(Uncharted 2 Among Thieves Commercial)

Developers know that the average gamer is in their 30s, but have they realized that the average gamer is not single?

I saw a commercial for Uncharted 2 (image and link above) and it made me realize that gamers are not alone on the couch, even with single player games. Funny enough, I realized that my wife’s presence factors into what I play.

Has your significant other ever influenced what games you play because they like/don’t like watching it? My wife did not like watching me play Halo Reach (or listening to my frustration) but she enjoyed Fable 2 so much that I wasn’t supposed to play while she wasn’t in the room. With Puzzle Quest, my wife was over-my-shoulder so much that I let her take over.

Are couples a sub-demographic that developers can target? Perhaps, but predicting one person’s likes is difficult enough, let alone two different personalities. My friend raves about how spot-on Netflix is with picking movies for him (Netflix spends crazy money on generating favorable recommendations) but my Netflix is always off the mark with me because my wife and I share an account and we have very different tastes.

When it comes to facilitating hardcore and casual gamers, there are a few games that shine:

  • Mario Galaxy: The hardcore gamer can enjoy the complex 3D puzzle platforming while the casual gamer can wave the Wii controller with the second player support aka “Girlfriend Mode”.
  • The Lego titles (Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones): Simple mechanics, no failing and layered progressions. The casual player can make their way to the end and the hardcore player can try and unlock/collect everything.
  • Little Big Planet: Again, simple mechanics that casual gamers can pickup and master, with the ability for hardcore gamers to customize complex experiences.

Collaborative game play is another emergent multiplayer experience that naturally occurs with couples. Sometimes in the form of a “back-seat gamer”, slow-paced puzzle and strategy games are enhanced by collaboration.