Guide to Video Gaming for Complete Beginners
If you’re looking for a new hobby, here’s Alex’s guide to video gaming for complete beginners. Most can be played on computers or consoles, so why not give it a go!
If you want some new indoor activities to pass the time during the winter months, this could be the moment to take your first steps into the world of video gaming.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a nerd, or a teenage boy, to enjoy gaming – and you don’t need a console either.
Gaming now makes up more than half (51%) of the UK’s entire entertainment industry. So much more than just shooting stuff or sports simulations; video games can be emotional journeys, works of art, complex brainteasers – and a great way to hang out with friends without ever leaving the house.
If you don’t have a console like an Xbox, Playstation or Nintendo Switch, you can use just about any computer or laptop. And it can be a super affordable hobby too: a couple of games can provide hundreds of hours of entertainment for just £20 – £30.
For gaming on a computer, there is nothing physical required beyond the machine itself. Almost all computer gaming is done through an application that sells the games, stores them all online and lets you play them on whatever machine you install them on once purchased.
The biggest of these is Steam, which has over 30,000 games to choose from and, due to coronavirus, hit its highest ever user count on 27 March 2020, with more than 22.5 million people all playing at the same time.
Other platforms exist such as Origin, which has all the games from developer EA, including The Sims, and GOG (Good Old Games) which is filled with retro classics like Age of Empires updated for modern computers, as well as new titles at bargain prices. The good news? All these applications are free to download.
Once you’ve installed one, you just need to find what game is right for you, make sure your computer can run it and buy. Having a mate who will let you use their account can be a great way to try things out for yourself first absolutely free.
Check your specs
Oh no, is this where things get technical?! Don’t worry, knowing what your computer can or can’t run is as simple as googling ‘can my computer run X’ and going to safe sites like SystemRequirementLab or Game-Debate that scan what your computer has in it and tell you if that game will work.
You don’t need a full-on gaming PC or powerful laptop to run most games (although it helps) and you’d be surprised what will run on your computer if you set the game to run on its lowest settings for graphics and computer performance.
For those of you who do want to get a bit more technical, the Steam page for each game lists both the minimum and recommended requirements for every game you click on. You can Google your computer’s specs if you know the exact model to see if they match up or check out your hardware using guides like this.
If, for whatever reason, your game doesn’t run correctly, platforms like Steam offer refunds if the game didn’t work or even if you didn’t like it and want your money back – as long as it is within two weeks of purchase and has been played for under two hours.
Apple devices are a little bit more restricted in what they allow and they can refuse to run certain titles so be sure to check before buying.
What to play
This is a bit like recommending a new TV show to watch: it depends on your taste. Talk to your friends to see what they recommend and they might also have some excellent co-operative ones to play together.
Or, check out our top 10 list for beginners:
One of best-selling game series of all-time, this turn-based strategy game has you steer a group of people from the Stone Age all the way into the future while competing or cooperating with other nations. Great fun with friends but an equally powerful time-eater when played alone. There is no other experience like watching in disbelief as Gandhi launches nukes at the Aztec Empire in an attempt to rule the world.
This gorgeous, watercolour-style game follows the story of a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Designed to be a purely evocative experience free of danger, I dare you to not be moved by this beautiful piece of art.
You’ve probably heard of this one as it exploded into the mainstream consciousness a decade ago and it picked up a reputation as a game for kids and preteens. Don’t let that put you off as this isn’t due to the content of the game but more just how accessible it is – Minecraft is a limitless sandbox with no real story where you forage for resources and build whatever takes your fancy.
This can range from exploring underground caves and mysterious lands or recreating the entirety of Middle Earth bit by bit. Seriously
Overcooked 1 & 2
Try to cook your way through the chaos in this co-operative game that asks players to run a kitchen packed with inexplicable hazards. But, instead of having a patient and skilled staff, you and your mates have to prep the ingredients, cook, serve the meals and cook the dishes all without falling into the endless void someone put next to the lettuce. Guaranteed to bring out the inner Gordon Ramsey in anyone.
Fancy yourself a puzzle solver? Portal 2 is a total mind-bender that packs both a hilarious single-player story and a fun co-operative experience for you and a friend to try to test out your teamwork and spatial skills.
You just inherited a farm in a faraway town and move there after becoming exhausted with modern life. Playable with friends, you interact with the townsfolk, develop your farm and live your life in this relaxing world. It even has the greatest fantasy of any video game for millennials: owning property.
A short and sweet experience, this is the perfect example of the kind of stories only video games can tell. Absolutely hilarious and subversive throughout, Stanley Parable lets you control a man who realises his office has suddenly become devoid of people. The narrator says he stands up and goes through the door on his right. Or does he?
Tropico 3, 4 & 5
Congratulations! You have just been elected ‘El Presidente’ of a fictional Carribean island and it’s your job to build it up to your own design, make your people happy and steer them through WW2 and the Cold War to become the greatest leader in history.
If you’ve ever wanted to make a city and live out your dreams as a dictator, communist revolutionary or capitalist tycoon, here is your chance! Tropico is packed with humour and charm, and it’s a fantastic starting point for the ‘building’ genre of games, which also includes classics like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Cities:Skylines
The Wolf Among Us
This episodic adventure based on a graphic novel will be instantly familiar for fans of the show Once Upon a Time. All fairytale creatures are real, but far from a happy ever after, they have been forced out from their homes and live in slums, disguised by magic in New York City.
What unfolds is an excellent detective story as you control the hated sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby Wolf, who has to handle something unprecedented in their community: a murder. The story will change based on your decisions and conversations with other characters so no one player’s experience is the same.
Tuck in to this list and let us know if there was one here that you loved or if you have your own recommendations to add! Remember, this is a list of suggestions and not a definitive selection of all games have to offer so even if none of these appeal, thousands of other games exist and there will be one that interests you.
Good luck gaming out there! 🙂
Find out More
For more things to do in isolation see our 50 Things to Do in Isolation
Or for working from home in isolation see our WFH – Tips from Some Seasoned Pros!