cover page of PC Zone "How to Get your Girlfriend into Games" piece
second page of PC Zone "How to Get your Girlfriend into Games" piece about how men want violent exploding video games and women don't and girlfriends are buzzkills that bring male gamers down
third page of PC Zone "How to Get your Girlfriend into Games" piece about how to teach your girlfriend to play video games and assumes she's a newbie and also has a bunk science bit about "biological" differences between men and women saying that women can't navigate 3D space as well as men to explain men liking FPS and women like talking more than men to explain women liking adventure games
fourth third page of PC Zone "How to Get your Girlfriend into Games" piece with "testimonials" from women about playing games

Totally true gender science from PC Zone

From Jess Morrissette on Twitter (with permission):

"For some women, the 3D space and layout of an area in a game like Quake is not immediately obvious to them. Tunnels which lead off from a room, or even the entire architecture of the room, may be 'invisible.'" Source: "How to Get Your Girlfriend Into Games" (PC Zone, May 1999).

Holy s- this piece.  And way to go with the "As your experiences in bed have undoubtedly told you, there is no bigger turn-off than a complete systems failure" part that seems to insult the presumed-to-be-male audience too? -_o  And the "science" snippet that says women can't play FPSes because we can't navigate 3D space, but women are good at adventure games because women talk more than men... but remember gamer guys, don't complain about women being bad at things because you used to be a girl in your mom's womb once! Holy cow, PC Zone, not helping.

Transcription for screenreaders (big thanks to Bella (@MoviePosters00) for the transcription):

HOW TO GET YOUR GIRLFRIEND INTO GAMES

You've been playing games for years, but just imagine what they must look like from a non-gamer's point of view. They suck. The graphics are crap. Look out of your window — that's good graphics. These just look shoddy and blocky in comparison.

And what's with all the violence? Why do you have to kill everybody? Why can't you just talk to them? And what are these locations? Cathedrals? Dungeons? Catacombs? God, it's all so dark and depressing. And why are there so many blokes in these games? And what the hell am I doing spending hours playing this when I could be out talking to people, reading books, watching films, living life... This is how girls think.

Girls and games rarely mix. They rarely mix because you — man, boy, bloke, fellow, chap, me lad —you designed them.

Unlike most other examples of popular culture, computer games are predominantly designed and programmed by blokes and so inevitably appeal to men and the male tick-list of desirable experiences: being a superhero, being competitive, being murderous, and doing things fast.

Sure, we play the odd puzzler like Tetris. And yes, we can be found occasionally talking to elves in adventure games. But on the whole, we want violence, people's heads exploding, fast cars, big jets and gouts of hot arterial blood splattered against cobblestones. We want wars and vast armies of ourselves crushing other vast armies of people different to us into the dust.

She thinks: "Why play stupid computer games when you could be making me a cup of tea, paying me some attention, taking me out (or whatever your relationship revolves around)?"

You think: "Why waste valuable time attending to you when I've got to complete this freaking level?"

She strops. You grit your teeth. You feel bad about playing so you grab what gameplay you can in unsatisfying snatches, standing up every five to ten minutes and stroking her hair.

You say: "You okay?" She says: "Yeah. Guess so." You sprint back to your machine for another five-minute burst. Suddenly it's 2am. She's face-down asleep and you're having just one more go. Relationship: terminated.

Obviously, the ideal situation would be for both of you to like games. Those with PlayStations will probably have already experienced a touch of curiosity about games from their partners. But if the PlayStation is designed to be simple and appealing, the PC is a horrible beige monolith, forced to do games as an afterthought.

But it can be done. You can get your girlfriend playing games. We at PC ZONE have designed a 12-Part System. It takes some planning and no small amount of patience. We can't guarantee 100 per cent results but we believe, if you follow this plan, at the least, she will have some idea of why the hell you play games in the first place.

THE 12 RULES OF GIRLFRIEND GAMING

Step-by-step techniques for getting your girlfriend into games

1 CHOOSE WISELY

There's no point throwing her directly into Falcon 4 or Dark Reign II. Keep your game choices simple and realistic. Choose a game with strong interactive qualities and with real-life locations. There aren't, however, many good girl games on the PC.

PC ZONE chooses:

Half-Life

The hazard course is a particularly good starting point. It takes a while to get going but once they're hooked, they'll never stop.

Tomb Raider III

Despite what feminists say about her bosoms, girls like playing girls. Especially strong, agile ones.

Motocross Madness

Great driving game set 'outside', with hyper-realistic graphics. Exhilarating and amusing.

Creatures 2

Yeah, yeah, they "get to raise babies". Easy joke.

Worms

Because you can name the worms and then blow them up.

Quake II

Multiplayer especially. They'll hate it at first but try and try again. They'll get it.

Grim Fandango

Interactive, movie-like, funny, with a plethora of locations and mysteries. How much more girly can a game get?

Others (recommended by visitors to our website)

Puzzle Bobble, YOU Don't Know Jack, Baku Baku Animal, Civilization, SimCity 3000, Sam & Max, Broken Sword, Little Big Adventure, Settlers 3, Caesar IA Fallout 2, Zork: Grande Inquisitor

2 SET UP YOUR ROOM

Rule number one: tidy it. Rule number two: tidy it again (and vacuum this time). No-one wants their first introduction to games to happen in the midst of a smeg pit. Clear the mugs away. Wipe all those shavings and toenails off your desk. Clear the cigarette butts, bits of paper, Blu-tack and Coke cans out of the way. Get a nice clean mouse — not one clogged up with three months' worth of dried skin. Clean all those manky half-moons of crap off the keys on your keyboard, too.

Use Stanislavski's Circles Of Attention technique to minimise her distraction. Turn off the main light in your room and erect a side light which creates a pool of illumination around your computer. This makes the computer screen the centre of focus and mutes any peripheral distractions. In short, she has nowhere to look if she gets bored.

3 SELL HER THE GAME

Talk to her in language she can understand. Remember: you are a computer games geek.

She is a proper person who cares about things like emotions and novels. Don't use jargon. Ramp up any 'interactive' elements (talking, speaking, puzzle-solving). Play down hyper-violent aspects (flying globules of gibbage, explosions with true particles, realistic death throes). Once she's over her initial reluctance, she'll be as bloodthirsty as anyone, but you have to get her there first.

Half-Life

You want to say: "Next-generation first-person shoot 'em up with strong narrative elements."

You should say: "011, it's an amazing unfolding story with you playing the central character."

Motocross Madness

You want to say: "The real-time shadows are unbelievable and on Voodoo2 it uses tri-linear mapping for a super-realistic fractal landscape."

You should say: "It's really realistic and it's set outside."

Worms Armageddon

You want to say: "It's like that tank game you used to play in school where you'd enter the trajectory and balance it against wind speed."

You should say: "It's like Tetris."

TOP TIP If you're ever in any doubt about how to describe a game, just say: "It's like Tetris." Whatever you do, though...

4 DON'T OVER-HYPE IT

"Oh God, this is the best 3D shoot 'em up ever. The graphics are unbelievable. It’s such a brilliant game. It rules." Do not say anything like this or you'll create preconceptions. A game will have to have reality-quality graphics and the most involving storyline ever known to grab her after that sales pitch. To the uninitiated, compared to reality, a good film or a great novel, games - all games - suck and blow (at the same time).

5 HAVE A GOOD MACHINE

Don't waste your time trying to convert her to the Dark Side if you're packing a five-year-old PC with a green screen and Sinclair BASIC. Who wants to see a glut of piss-poor pixels masquerading as people and locations? Get 3D acceleration. And get it now. Get RAM. Get a nice big monitor and some meaty speakers. If you're going to use a joystick, get a big, firm one she can grasp (yes, insert crap joke here).

Get a joypad if you can. Remember, computers were never designed for games. It may be more versatile in the long term, but a keyboard isn't as forgiving as a joypad (plus you get to see her 'girl-steering' the pad in mid air when taking corners in racing games). The mouse is a brilliant 3D navigation device, but not at first and certainly not for someone used to pushing icons around a flat screen.

6 ENSURE EVERYTHING IS RUNNING CORRECTLY

As your experiences in bed have undoubtedly told you, there is no bigger turn-off than a complete system failure. Blue screen General Protection Faults are the gaming equivalent of a hair-trigger ("Oh sorry, I just GPF'ed"). Create a load of shortcuts on the desktop and configure keys/joystick/sound/video in advance - you don't want to stop the action over and over to adjust CD music volumes or the 'crouch' button.

Don't decide to check your email. Don't receive any phone calls. Don't schedule a clan match. Don't invite your mates over for a pissing contest. Make sure it's just you and her.

7 DON'T TAKE OVER

This is Five Gold Rings of the plan - the most important piece of advice. Resist the temptation to dominate proceedings. As she tumbles - for the fortieth time - headlong into the lava, do not snatch the mouse out of her hand and show her how it's done. Encourage. Encourage. Encourage. Every fibre in your body will be screaming for you to take the mouse - don't. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Better still, go outside and scream into a pillow (perhaps two. Eiderdowns). The more you interrupt and cajole, the less she will become immersed in the game and the more you will fail.

8 REASSURE HER

Like any newbie, she needs constant reassurance.

She says: "I'm crap."

You say: "No, you're not just schooled in the conventions of this medium."

She says: "Oh, I can't do it"

You say: "It took me a while to get the hang of it, too."

She says: "What's the point? I don't get it. I'm not doing it anymore."

You say: "There's a really brilliant bit coming up. Just stick at it."

She says: "I'm bored."

You say: "There's a bit like Tetris coming up in a sec."

She says: "Where's the bit like Tetris?"

You say: "It's coming in a minute, okay?
 

9 DON'T PATRONISE HER

"Ooh, you're doing really well," you say, as she dies on the Half-Life hazard course 50 times in a row. She's not stupid. She knows the difference between succeeding and failing. If she has developed black-ball trouble or a psychological block, change the scenery. Try a different game or a different level. Surreptitiously turn God mode on. Anything.

10 MAKE IT PART OF AN EVENING

Don't just announce that tomorrow night, you'll be playing computer games together. Or lock her in and force her to sit in your chair for hours. Go out for some beers first, or get some wine in, or whatever your relaxation method of choice is. Don't push it. Imagine this is like date number two or three. You wouldn't slap it on a tray and say "Let's go," would you? Maybe you would, but pacing and timing and bit of restraint are going to get you further.

Also, get some snacks in. PC ZONE recommended snacks for girlfriend gaming: Tooty Fruities.

11 POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

It is a psychological fact that people will do things they don't want to if there's a reward for them at the end. You may have to trade. Say you'll go to see a film with subtitles with her if she spends an hour playing games. Or that you'll cook something other than corned beef curry. Or that you will finally pull out those dirty socks that are stuck like cardboard behind the radiator. There has to be a trade. You don't get something for nothing. Hopefully, to use an unfortunate comparison, like Pavlov's dog, every time she hears the ping of the SimCity 3000 menu options or the splattery fine red mist of giblets hitting cobblestones in Quake, she'll start salivating.

And finally...

12 DON'T BE SELFISH

Now you have succeeded in getting her as addicted to games as you are, you must nurture her interest. This means sharing your machine.

Remember, girls always win at beat 'em ups. You can revise all the best, most shimmery combos and special moves but she, just by randomly banging the joypad, will triumph every time. If you lose, don't tell her it was "a crap game anyway". Be gracious.

Maybe you should invest in another PC and set up a network. That way, she can play, you can play, and you can settle washing-up arguments with the railgun. Ah, bliss...

Oh, and don't forget to delete that porn.

AND NOW, THE SCIENCE BIT...

 

Blokes don't like talking about their emotions and girls can't park. Crass sweeping generalisations or statistically proven sweeping generalisations?

A variety of behavioural differences have been reported for men and women, and researchers have zoned in on 'parallel parking' as an example of the differences between male and female thought processes. Men can often 'see' the space, in 3D, in their brains. Women can perceive the gap, but need to talk about it in order to understand its relationship with the length of their car. They ask themselves questions and come to a conclusion, which takes longer than the male approach, which Is just to pile in there and use the alarms of the vehicles in front and behind to judge distances.

This car-parking phenomenon also has an influence on the way women perceive computer games. For some women, the 3D space and layout of an area in a game like Quake is not immediately obvious to them. Tunnels which lead off from a room, or even the entire architecture of the room itself, may be 'invisible'. This is not, as your grandfather no doubt maintains, because "women are stupid" but simply because they have a tendency to perceive 'negative space', the gaps between objects rather than the objects themselves.

The widely-held belief that women only like adventure games can be explained by recent studies, which found that women spend 43 minutes a day making personal calls and men only 22. Women speak, on average 9,000 words a day, while men utter a mere 2,000. Generally speaking, women communicate more and enjoy the act of talking and interacting more than men.

Anyway, before you start moaning about crap girl gamers or bad parking arguments, remember this: until six weeks into your mother's pregnancy, you were a girl. Then your defective X chromosome kicked in. Everything went haywire and for some reason your nipples weren't absorbed. Your clitoris, however, remained and grew and grew into your penis. Just remember that.

PUT TO THE TEST

We put PC ZONE's 12-Part System for getting your girlfriend into games to the test. We took a bunch of girls, various games, applied the system and tried to convert them to the Dark Side. Here's what happened...

NAME: Paula

AGE: 27

JOB: Make-up artist

STANCE ON COMPUTER GAMES BEFORE: "Boring waste of time. A typically mindless male pursuit."

STANCE AFTER: "No different. The kind of thing you do in the absence of any other stimulation or activity. When you're trapped in the house and there's no alternative. It makes me want to go and read a book."

VERDICT: Thoroughly resisted conversion to the Dark Side.

NAME: Vanessa

AGE: 22

JOB: Model

STANCE ON COMPUTER GAMES BEFORE: "I've only played PlayStation games before. I like martial arts games."

STANCE ON COMPUTER GAMES AFTER: "I really enjoyed them, but I still prefer games that get my adrenalin going."

VERDICT: Converted.

NAME: Mandy

AGE: 27

JOB: Hairdresser

STANCE BEFORE: "I've played puzzley games like Tetris. I get quite addicted, but how blokes can play them for hours or weeks strikes me as strange."

STANCE AFTER: "It's tempting once I get started."

VERDICT: Not much change

NAME: Emma

AGE: 24

JOB: Archaeologist

STANCE BEFORE: "They're all full of blood and violence. For boys who haven't grown up. I like building games like SimCity."

STANCE AFTER: "A bit disappointed you can't shoot people's legs off, but yeah, good fun."

VERDICT: Success.

NAME: Helen

AGE: 28

JOB: Stockbroker

STANCE BEFORE: "They are quite good, but far too complicated. A solitary, masturbation-type thing."

STANCE AFTER: "Yeah, good. I like them. Although I don't think I'm going to develop a habit or anything."

VERDICT: Our job here is done.

Quake ll

PAULA: "It's quite dismal. I don't have any sense of where I am. I'm just running around mindlessly. (Picks up some health 'biscuits.') Have those things disappeared because I picked them up? I don't know where I am. Am I trapped underground? Don't know where I've come from, don't know how to get out (she spends minutes shooting wall fillings). How do I know that's a door? I don't really understand the rewards. I get mild satisfaction from shooting someone. And blowing their head off."

Motocross Madness

PAULA: "I like the outside setting and the freedom. It's exhilarating to move over nice bumpy terrain. It doesn't look that realistic".

VANESSA: "I love this. It's more me. I love racing. The graphics aren't that amazing. I do like the crashes, though. It's wicked. I could play this for hours. It's brilliant. Wheeeeee (performs enormous, deadly cartwheel which should splatter drivers against the rockface like a plum). There's so much open space all over the place. I even like falling off."

MANDY: "It's a bit samey. What are you supposed to do? I like having race-oriented goals. I wouldn't buy it. It's got really weird, illogical controls."

EMMA: "Don't think much of the ground. How are you supposed to know where you're going? I've never been on a bike before... Oooh! I'm doing a wheelie! (The girls clap.) Why is it so sunny? It wouldn't be sunny. It'd be all muddy, like on KickStart, with people standing around who you could hit."

Pacman

PAULA: "Immediately challenging, but there's a really depressing quality about it. The `so what' factor is very strong. The graphics are shit - just lines and dots on a bit of paper. Don't care whether I win or lose. (Indignant) How old is this game?"

Half-Life

PAULA: "Much more exciting than Quake II. More problem solving - more appealing in that sense. The tension is greater and there's more suspense. The usual dismal, claustrophobic setting. It makes me feel anxious and tense. Ah! Ah! (Genuinely screams loudly when she sees a zombie.) That's horrible! I get bored when I go round and round in circles. It makes you aware of how mindless it is. It's quite satisfying - oh (plummets 10,000 feet to her doom) but it's quite satisfying to kill a bizarre monster."

VANESSA: "Feels more real than on the PlayStation. It's quite exciting - all these holes to jump through. It's exciting to use all these fingers. I hate it when I lose. I love guns. I like holding the gun. I thought I just came up the ladder. Why should I go down again? I wish something more exciting would happen. This is boring."

MANDY: "This is good. I like this. I like the fact that you're making progress. I'm excited. I like the way his arm moves (she ducks to avoid low pipes on screen). Quite impressive, but I couldn't play it for hours."

Grim Fandango

HELEN: "Superb. I like things like this. I like shooting things, it leads you into the scenario. You have to find something, secret things (she is getting visibly excited). There's a mystery. That gave me a rush of pleasure (she finds the way out of the first room). That looked like it should do something. I want to go back and see."

EMMA: "it's the kind of game where you'd suddenly realise it was 2am and you had to get up for work in the morning. I like the music that's on in the background."

MANDY: "There's so much more to see - it's a lot more interesting to look at. I like the detail. You're not just doing the same thing over and over again. It's good because this isn't the kind of game where my boyfriend could phone me up to brag about his high score. Yeah, he does that"