11 May 2010
Regular readers of this blog know my wife is not a gamer. She grew up on books and vegan cooking. I had an Atari and pork chops. Together, we are now somewhere in the middle.
If you have a partner who isn't a gamer you know what it feels like to fail at recruiting them into your obsession. Some of you have certainly had success on some level. I'm sure most of you have talked your non-gaming better half into playing Guitar hero or Rock Band, maybe Wii bowling or tennis.
For me, I'm about 0 and 12. I've tried a dozen different games to work my way into her heart. All have failed.
She still loves me, I think, but she couldn't care less about anything relating to video games other than being mildly amused that they make me happy and making sure I don't poison our children with them too early.
And then there's Alan Wake.
You’re going to see and hear a lot of hype about Alan Wake in the coming weeks. It’s one of those games that will get the attention of the mainstream media due to its remarkable qualities and revolutionary approach to old conventions while setting a new standard for successfully mixing storytelling and action.
But the one thing you’re likely not going to hear — from Game Informer to the New York Times — is that playing the game was a watershed moment in my marriage.
My long-suffering wife has put up with my gaming obsession for nearly nine years. She has looked the other way while our basement has become consumed with classic consoles, plastic music instruments and multiple surround-sound devices. She’s even succumbed to my teaching our 2-year-old how to play “Asteroids.” Typically, she tunes out while I’m gaming and she’s in the room. But a few minutes into playing “Alan Wake” she started paying attention.
“Oh, he’s going to be a bad guy,” she said about a radio host I met on the ferry.
This is the sort of foreshadowing typically associated with films and novels. She was watching the game unfold as if it were a piece of fiction from a different medium. She forgot, briefly, that it was a game.
I've spent the last decade preaching about video games and their ability to tell good stories in new ways. Alan Wake is not the first game to get non-gamers to pay attention, but it is the first one to engage my wife.
For that alone, “Alan Wake” is a huge success.
By Victor Paul Alvarez