Called for Duty: About videogame recommendations

People around me know about my vast knowledge in games, so it’s not uncommon when I’m asked (or suddenly texted to my cell phone) about videogame recommendations or thoughts on a particular title.

If it’s someone I know, I can diligently recommend something according to that person’s likes and interests, but things get a little trickier if I’m asked for a recommendation for someone I don’t know, or someone who hasn’t been around gaming culture for a while – which happened to me a while ago; something I still think about till this very day.

A friend of a friend just got an Xbox and I was asked for a game he could rent for the weekend, my response came in matter of seconds: “Just tell him to rent Call of Duty”.

Call of Duty? Seriously?

It took me a few seconds to realize what I just said, so I tried to add a couple more games to my suggestion. I regretted a bit recommending one of the most generic games this generation has to offer, but I didn’t feel like I had to take it back from my recommendation; there had to be a reason why that game came top of my head when I was asked to recommend a game for someone not used to video games.

When I thought about it, the situation actually made some kind of sense; while I wasn’t thinking through when I was asked the question, my first instinct was naming a “fun” game – not a good, or an engaging one, just a fun game. It doesn’t matter how much I like to bash at Call of Duty every now and then, I can’t deny that this game is fun, and it’s the kind of title someone new to this media would really appreciate.

The thing I realized is that as much as you’d love to show the best this media has to offer to the uninitiated, you need to admit that not everyone’s ready for that; your intentions might be understandably good, but games these days tend to have some kind of lengthy tutorial or exposition that would end up boring someone away from a game. Newcomers usually want to start shooting and punching people right away; they’re told that video games are supposed to be fun, and they usually demand that games start being fun as soon as they press the start button.

Do you know what would happen if you recommend your all-time favorite game to someone new to video games? While Conan O’Brien doesn’t know too much about games, but he makes a remarkably good impression about how a new gamer would react to new titles in his segment: Clueless Gamer.

This is why you don’t recommend Skyrim to a newcomer!

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, newcomers are not video games’ bane of existence. Some people still want to treat gaming as some kind of private club, and feel entitled to be harsh towards those trying to join the fun. Video games need newcomers in order to survive and evolve into a mainstream media (yes, we’re moving to that direction, but we’re not quite… there). You should welcome anyone daring to try a game… any game; you’ll eventually have the chance of gradually introducing him or her to better titles as time goes by.

Some time later I heard that the “friend of a friend” I mentioned above followed my advice and word was that he “loved” Call of Duty… I have to confess that it wasn’t one of my proudest moments, but still, I set the path for this guy; whatever he chose to play after that was beyond my call.

Daniel Castro

Daniel Castro

Daniel is an engineer, teacher, and freelance writer and translator. He considers himself blessed to be born during the the times video games were created, and has followed their development as an entertainment and artistic media ever since. He loves talking about video games as much as he enjoys playing them, and he's always ready to introduce gaming culture to a newer audience.

You Might Also Like

  • You make some great points. It can be really hard to recommend a random game to someone you don’t know, especially if they’re not there so you can ask “What do you like? What’re you in the mood for right now?”

    I’ve realized that, for me, “the mood” actually means a lot. Right now I’m in the mood for an impressive RPG – hence, Skyrim. Later I’ll be in the mood for some FPS action and I’ll probably jump back into CounterStrike.

    I like your point that you have to treat the initial experience and future experiences of new gamers differently – maybe something to pique their interest, and then they can add other titles later to become more mature gamers.

    Side note: Conan’s video reviews are hilarious! I love how badly he wants to kill the chicken, and then his horror at being attacked for it. Classic!