So, you want to get into gaming. That seems like a tall task in 2018 as video games have been around for a long time at this point. Where do you begin? Well, it is easier to get into gaming now than ever before!

For all of the aspiring gamers out there, this can serve as your “Go-To Guide for Gaming.” While it obviously is not going to cover everything out there, I’ll try my best to cover some of the major accessible areas.

There are multiple good starting points for gaming: games that are readily available, the popular games that everybody knows, and, of course, the classics. Before we get to any of that, though, we need something to play games on. Let’s talk about consoles!

Picking a Console

Choosing the proper gaming console to play on is almost as important as choosing the game itself. Each console comes with its own pros and cons, as well as a slew of exclusive games.

The three titans of the console gaming industry are Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Their most recent consoles are the PlayStation 4, the Xbox ONE, and the Switch, respectively.

The PS4 and Xbox ONE are fairly similar from a technical standpoint. I only prefer Playstation as it has more console-exclusive games, though that could just be nostalgia shining through. The Nintendo Switch is less powerful than the previous consoles, but it is the most innovative and has a library of great exclusives despite launching a year ago.

Also worth noting: The base models for all three consoles sit around $300. The PS4 and XBOX ONE have their more powerful (and expensive) counterparts, the PS4 Pro and XBOX ONE X; these tout improved graphics and performance compared to the originals.

Lastly, the PS4 and Switch have some notable peripherals. The PS4 has VR support through the aptly named PSVR, and the Switch allows players to build accessories using the Nintendo LABO.

A Look Back at Year 1: Happy Birthday, Nintendo Switch!

There are still more gaming alternatives. First and foremost is PC gaming. PC gaming is highly accessible as most people have access to a computer. High-end gaming PCs boast quality and online multiplayer experiences that surpass the PS4 and Xbox ONE. The downside is that building or even outright buying, a specific gaming PC can be very pricey. I use a Mac, so I tend to stick to my PS4 and Switch.

Last but not least, we’re going to look at the most accessible form of gaming out there. It’s so accessible, in fact, that nearly everyone carries this console around daily.

Mobile Gaming

I know some console gamers will read this section and think, “Mobile gaming? How casual do you think I am!” Well, while mobile gaming is undoubtedly more casual than consoles, these games are mainly used for spurts of mindless fun. Most importantly, however, is that most mobile games are free!

In my experience, the most long-lasting mobile games are infinite runners a la TEMPLE RUN and puzzlers like CANDY CRUSH. While these two specific games may not be so popular currently, many games spawned from their success most certainly are.

gaming guide temple run
TEMPLE RUN — 2011’s biggest time waster.

While the list of mobile games is near endless at this point, there are two specific games I would like to mention. Coincidentally, both of these games come from the POKEMON franchise.

POKEMON

POKEMON is a household name at this point — I know that I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. Many young people have at least some experience with POKEMON, which is exactly why the series is so accessible. The two games I would like to mention are POKEMON SHUFFLE and POKEMON GO.

POKEMON SHUFFLE is one of the aforementioned CANDY CRUSH clones. While slightly different in its “match three icons” puzzle gameplay, SHUFFLE appeals to me because it contains all the Pokemon I grew up with. If you are anything like me, POKEMON SHUFFLE will consume a large chunk of your downtime and cause hours of procrastination. Fun!

gaming guide pokemon shuffle
POKEMON SHUFFLE in action. I am glad that I cannot check my total playtime.

Last is the gargantuan POKEMON GO. GO provided a gaming experience like no other. During the summer of 2016, droves of people ran around their cities on the hunt for new POKEMON. There was a time when you could shout out, “Hey! There’s a Slowbro in the park!” and people would actually follow you, not just look at you like you’re crazy. While the game has definitely died down at this point, it still has a dedicated fanbase that plays daily.

POKEMON is a great entry point for gaming primarily due to its multimedia popularity, though it is far from the only popular game out there. Let’s take a peek at some of the more modern gaming crazes.

POKÉMON: LET’S GO and POKÉMON QUEST Announced for Nintendo Switch

Gaming Trends

Popular games are so accessible because they transcend the gaming world into pop culture at large. I was recently interviewed for a teaching position and I was asked if I knew about FORTNITE. How surreal is that? Before we get to FORNITE, I want to touch on some other recent gaming trends.

The first trend that comes to mind is the “survival simulator,” with MINECRAFT as the head honcho. Survival games are a ton of fun. Players start out with literally nothing and must collect all of their resources in order to, well, survive. MINECRAFT goes beyond just survival, allowing for a large amount of freedom and creativity.

gaming guide minecraft
Image courtesy of minecraft.net

Next up is the trend of “hero shooters,” which goes as far back as the popular TEAM FORTRESS 2, but was really made popular by 2016’s OVERWATCH. Hero shooters are highly competitive games: Two teams of players choose from a varied roster of heroes and compete for a slew of set objectives. I hate playing shooters but I love OVERWATCH — that’s honestly the best review I can give it.

Why OVERWATCH Is Still Successful

Now we’re onto FORTNITE and the genre of “battle royale shooters.” A hundred players are dropped from the sky onto a large map and instantly have to scramble for weapons and resources. The game area constantly shrinks, pushing the remaining players to one point, and the last man standing wins. I admittedly have not played FORTNITE; take it from the millions of regular players that it is worth a shot.

From FORTNITE to the Future: Battle Royale Games

Start at the Beginning

Finally, we’re onto classic gaming. These are the well-loved, innovative games from older gaming consoles. Where do I even begin?

For starters, I’ll list a few of the most influential games from my childhood. The CRASH BANDICOOT and SPYRO THE DRAGON series kick-started my love for platformers. Nearly every ZELDA game is fun to this day. The older MARIO KART games introduced me to racing games, as SUPER SMASH BROS MELEE did to fighters. Many of these series have continued to put out great installments through the present day, so starting with a classic can give you a good foundation for more games to try.

While playing classic games on the console they originally released on may be very expensive, there are other ways to get into them. Many games have received remakes and remasters on modern consoles, such as RATCHET & CLANK and CRASH BANDICOOT, and others have received direct ports to smartphones. Some consoles have even seen a re-release, like the NES Classic Edition! Playing classic games has never been easier than right now.

SPYRO REIGNITED TRILOGY Finally Lands

There are clearly (literal) tons of classic games I have neglected to mention. But that’s the thing: everybody has a different set of “classic” gaming experiences. The best way to find out about older games is just by talking to different people and trying them yourself.

Now get to gaming!

There you have it, a brief look into gaming, ranging from accessible to currently popular to the classics. These are just my opinions, there are countless other games out there. There could be some games that I hate that you would love to play — who knows!

My best advice for any aspiring gamer is to be open-minded with games and do some research before making major purchases. I am certain that everyone has their own perfect game waiting for them, even if it takes a little bit of searching to find it.

Finally, don’t be afraid to become a gamer. Sure, gaming tends to receive negative press, such as allegations of games being linked to violence, but that is only one viewpoint. I know my opinion is biased, but the gaming community is highly positive, and video games have definitely helped me through lots of tough times. If you want to start playing video games, just jump right in!

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