Best Games To Play With People Not Normally Into Games

Here are some great games to play with your non-game playing family and friends while you're stuck at home.

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It can be tricky to get friends or family into video games--it's certainly become easier in recent years with the rise of mobile gaming, which has created a more accessible market for gamers of all skill levels. However, there are still people out there who haven't played a video game. If you happen to know and live with such a person and you're hoping to get them to participate in one of your favorite pastimes now that you're spending more time at home, you may be wondering where to start.

We've found that a good way to get people who aren't regular players interested in video games is to play a co-op game with them. But, of course, that begs the question: What's a good video game to play with someone who's never played one before, or who rarely plays games and may not want to commit to something that's too skill-focused? Well, in the following article, we detail some of our personal favorite games that are fun to play, whether you've been gaming all your life or just starting for the first time.

Our list includes all sorts of games, ranging from silly couch co-op experiences you can play with the whole family, like Super Mario Party and Jackbox Party, to approachable online multiplayer games that you can play with a friend if you're both stuck at home, such as Rocket League and Destiny 2. We'd love to hear from you all if you think we missed anything--leave a note in the comments section about your go-to when you want to play a game with a friend or family member who isn't normally into video games.

Rocket League

Even though it has a very high skill ceiling, Rocket League is one of the most approachable games to get into, largely because the whole basis of the game is so straightforward: it's soccer (or, I guess, football for some of you) but with cars. That's it--that's the game.

Despite this simplicity, Rocket League is a ridiculously fun game that's very difficult to put down. My friends and I have had plenty of moments when we've been on a winning streak, so even though it's 3 AM, we've thought, "Okay, just one more match." With each match lasting, on average, five to eight minutes, it's easy to lose track of time playing Rocket League--and with support for both couch and online co-op, you and your friends can get lost in the silly game together. And if soccer isn't your thing, don't worry, Hoops mode offers a basketball variation of the game's formula, while Snow Day gives you hockey and Dropshot is basically volleyball.

Admittedly, Rocket League isn't a perfect choice for people who have never played video games before. As a sports game, it requires some semblance of hand-eye coordination to succeed and you'll likely whiff a shot or totally miss a pass more often than not at first. But that's one of the best parts of Rocket League: even when you're not doing very well, it's still an absolute blast of a good time when you're playing with friends. And when the game does finally click for you--there are few games that have managed to capture how sweet that feeling is. -- Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons makes for an ideal game to play with a non-gamer for a variety of reasons, but it helps that it's immediately understandable: You've got some bills to pay, money to be made, and a home to expand and decorate with stuff you like. There's no real pressure with anything--there's no impending timer (other than the store closing for the day), fail state, or other elements that could be discouraging. That makes it perfect for getting accustomed to holding a controller, because the worst thing a player can accidentally do is scare off a bug or fish, or trample some flowers.

Multiplayer can be done on a single console or multiple systems, and again, you're put in a no-pressure situation where you can help guide the person through the experience. If you prefer, there's always the potential for a competitive element, as you race to advance your towns/houses or simply try to catch more fish than the other person. With so much flexibility to cater the experience to someone's ability level and interest, it can serve as a great game to play long-term or act as a bridge to more traditional, game-y experiences. -- Chris Pereira, Engagement Editor

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Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu / Let's Go, Eevee

Unlike remakes of the other mainline games, Pokemon Let's Go, Pickachu and Let's Go, Eevee support drop-in co-op play. A second player can spawn into your game, allowing them to explore the world with you, help you catch wild Pokemon, and fight alongside you in battles.

This is great for people who aren't normally into video games because, for one, Let's Go doesn't save the progress of the second player--meaning they don't have to worry about potentially screwing over your save data. And second, playing in co-op makes the already fairly easy Let's Go games even easier, as it transforms battles into two-on-one bouts instead of the traditional one-on-one.

Pokemon is also, frankly, a franchise for children--adults just happen to enjoy it too because the games are fantastic. But since Pokemon games are primarily designed for a younger group of players, it doesn't possess many of the complicated intricacies of other turn-based RPGs. Pretty much all of the mainline Pokemon games are welcoming to new players (Black Version 2 and White Version 2 being the notable exceptions), so they present an excellent opportunity for people looking to get into video games for the first time. Let's Go, Pickachu and Let's Go, Eevee just also happen to allow you to tackle that journey with a friend. -- Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor

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Picross

Logic puzzles like Sudoku have made their reputation on being easy to grasp and satisfying to finish. Picross--also known as nonograms--haven't made the leap to the New York Times puzzle page, but the same elegant simplicity makes them an inviting and relaxing experience for video game novices. The concept behind Picross is simple: numbers alongside a grid show which spaces should be filled in. Completing a puzzle is a process of inferring what information can be known or ruled out, and chipping away slowly until a simple image appears.

What's greatest about Picross is its versatility. The same key rule set can be used to create color Picross puzzles, mega puzzles, or even 3D puzzles. And while most Picross games are just puzzle compilations, some have dabbled into other genres: PictoQuest is a picross game with some light RPG elements, while Murder By Numbers combines the puzzles with a sharp visual novel. It's easy to get hooked, and once you understand the rules, the genre offers a seemingly endless wealth of options. -- Steve Watts, Associate Editor

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Child Of Light

Ubisoft's Child of Light supports co-op play in which one player takes control of main character Aurora and the other controls her firefly companion, Igniculus. In fact, when played with two people, Child of Light is a better experience when one person isn't all that familiar with video games, seeing as playing as Igniculus is, though fulfilling, incredibly simple.

While exploring, both Aurora and Igniculus can fly independently of each other to solve puzzles. In combat, Aurora handles most of the strategy (party management, attacks, item usage, etc.) while Igniculus just has to fly around and shine his light--when over an ally, that light heals, and when over an enemy, it makes them attack less often and miss more.

Aurora literally can't solve all of Child of Light's puzzles (as simple as they are) without Igniculus' help and the little firefly can pull off miraculous saves in combat without much effort. It's an ideal role for someone looking to play a significant part in the success of beating a turn-based RPG, without needing the prerequisite knowledge that games in the genre typically demand. Plus, Child of Light is just an incredible game full of gorgeous visuals, wonderful music, humorous characters, and a fun fairy tale story. It's an easy game to enjoy. -- Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor

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Super Mario Party

Super Mario Party is the great equalizer. Regardless of how many years you've been playing video games, your success in Super Mario Party hinges largely on chance, which is what makes it a particularly great choice to play with someone who doesn't normally play video games. The title presents a level playing field. Your movement around the board--and, by extension, how quickly you can grab stars--hangs on the roll of a dice, so luck is often the deciding factor. This means the tides can turn remarkably quickly; the player who's been leading the entire game can suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of a string of unfortunate rolls, leading to dramatic come-from-behind upsets.

It also helps that the game is easy to understand. Super Mario Party plays out like a virtual board game, so each turn follows a predictable rhythm. The mini-games that punctuate these turns are likewise simple to grasp; most can be played with the control stick and a single button, making them perfectly accessible even to someone who has never held a controller before. Nintendo's multiplayer games are typically inviting to players of all skill levels, but Super Mario Party is especially fun to play with a non-gamer because everyone has a chance to win. Just try to keep your tempers in check.... -- Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor

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Until Dawn, Hidden Agenda, And Other Supermassive Games

I've had quite a few good experiences with Supermassive Games' PS4 titles with my wife, Caitlin, who isn't into games herself. Caitlin is a big fan of movies, intensely interested in serial killers, and a horror aficionado. It's like the catalog of games by Supermassive--the folks who created Until Dawn and Dark Pictures: Man of Medan--are geared specifically at our relationship.

Supermassive's games are extremely watchable. Until Dawn is pretty much a horror movie with quicktime events, peppered with choices about how the story should go. Even though I'm the one with the controller, Caitlin can watch and participate by chiming in at the story branch moments.

Supermassive ran with that idea with its later games. Hidden Agenda is a police procedural game about hunting down a serial killer that's specifically designed as an interactive movie night. A pair or group of players either vote on story decisions, or work against each other in a more secretive competitive mode. While Hidden Agenda is a PS4 game, you play it with a smartphone app, which brings the barrier of accessibility down even further. It's a perfect game to play with someone who doesn't usually play.

With Man of Medan, Supermassive added even more multiplayer options, allowing you to share a story with another player or pass a controller around with a group. But the focus is always more on the story, making these games great for people who haven't been mastering the nuances of dual thumbsticks for the last 20 years. -- Phil Hornshaw, Editor

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Overcooked (And Overcooked 2)

Co-op kitchen sim Overcooked has a reputation of inducing screaming matches and emotional breakdowns as players race against the clock to cook and serve a series of recipes--and that impression is accurate; the game can get quite intense. However, its challenges become much more manageable once you grasp what the game is asking you to do: take time to analyze each map, delegate tasks, and communicate constantly. The core appeal of Overcooked is the satisfaction of mastering a recipe and earning three stars on each level, and that's something a lot of people can get into, regardless of their gaming history.

While Overcooked's later levels can be challenging, the game eases you in slowly, allowing time for your non-gaming partner to learn the ropes. And for those who aren't comfortable using a controller, Overcooked's control scheme is quite simple, with one button to pick up ingredients and another one to chop them. You can also split up tasks based on whatever your teammates enjoy doing the most; for example, let your less experienced chefs handle picking ingredients, serving up food, or washing the dishes.

The game's sequel, Overcooked 2, is a more challenging game overall, but the core gameplay is the same. Notably, Overcooked 2 added online multiplayer, so you may want to consider getting the sequel if you want to play with friends online (online players can join in on a local match). No matter which game you grab, both are chaotic kitchen adventures that you'll want to see through to the end. -- Jenae Sitzes, Commerce Editor

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Destiny 2

Destiny 2 is a game where the experience dramatically improves when you play with your friends. After all, there’s something special about being this overpowered space guardian with guns and super abilities destroying the enemies of the Traveler with your fireteam. To make things easier, Bungie introduced "New Light" for new players logging on for their first time. You can decide what path you want to take to make your power level rise and there is no debate over Bungie's gunplay--it is among the best in the industry, and shooting things in the game or wrecking havoc with your class abilities feels incredible.

Every activity is better with a friend by your side and inviting friends who have never played video games before is so much easier thanks to the free-to-play and cross-save systems implemented alongside New Light. Anyone can install Destiny 2 and you'll have all of the content from Destiny 2's first year for free. Bungie revamped their system to break the barriers between players in order to make it easier to play than ever before. This and so much more makes Destiny 2 a superb game to recommend to your friends and family, and you will certainly have an epic time saving the world and The Last City together. -- David Ahmadi, Video Producer

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Any Of The Jackbox Party Packs

All it takes to get into any of the Jackbox Party Packs is one copy of any of the collections and enough smart phones for all players. Past this easy setup, every pack comes with a multitude of comedic games that are fun and easy for even your most game-averse family and friends to get into. With a majority of the games designed to make players get their friends to laugh, it's an easy sell and instant fun. The best part--you can even set up sessions on your favorite video chat apps! With one friend sharing their screen and the others on mobile devices, it's a perfect way to socialize for anyone feeling quarantine blues.

Amongst the growing number of games bundled in each pack are games focused on designing horrible T-Shirts (that you can actually then purchase online), a variation of One Night Ultimate Werewolf where you have to discover who among you is an alien, and classic trivia games with a comedic twist. Even the saltiest of anti-gaming friends will certainly find something fun here, as most games are about being witty and making your group of friends laugh. -- Dave Klein, Video Producer

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Drawful 2

If you only want a small taste of what the Jackbox Party Packs are like, then you should try Drawful 2. The secret to getting non-gamers to play Drawful 2 is in how it's played. Players aren't holding a typical console controller. They're using their phones to draw pictures and type. Additionally, it's more of a party game than anything else--much like everything else Jackbox Games offers. However, the real key for Drawful 2 is its simplicity. Players are tasked with drawing pictures based on a prompt consisting of a word or two, and after completing their piece of art, other players must guess what it is. Those guesses, along with the original prompt, are presented to the group and then everyone has to guess what was really being drawn. The ease of the gameplay is what many non-gamers find so appealing. Additionally, after a few drinks, everyone will start to draw something dirty--and probably phallic--adding a taboo element to the game.

It is a standalone game apart from the rest of the Jackbox Party Pack series, and the sequel does have a few extra features that increase the fun. It allows users to create a game by writing the starting prompts for the drawings. Additionally, players can choose to have a clean version of the game by censoring some of the naughty elements. It's a video game that doesn't feel like a video game because of how laid back it is and could easily be a gateway to other Jackbox Games, or even something like Mario Party. -- Mat Elfring, Entertainment Editor

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