Determining compatibility with another human—whether for lifelong partnership, working relationship, or casual friendship—can be a sketchy process. We can look to OkCupid and similar matchmaking sites as prime examples of our continual need to supplement our search via technology. When you’ve found your 99% compatible there’s still the traditional process of “how many dates before the mask slips and the crazy comes out?” Even the most outgoing person begins to side with Charlotte Lucas‘ view of long-term relationships: “It is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.”
Marrying strictly for money isn’t that great of an option even with improved 21st century divorce laws, so traits like altruism, humor, critical thinking, and propensity for violence are left to carry the load. Never fear—you don’t have to put on pants and face the outside world to test True Love (or friendship, or co-working.) Just look where you always have: your TV and/or computer.
If you’ve not played Portal and wonder how so many people can be lied to about cake, the premise of both games is you, the Player, have awoken in a testing facility of which you have no memory and are asked to solve a series of puzzles. They begin with simple problems like setting a cube on a button to open a door, increasing in difficulty with each test chamber. The eponymous game mechanic appears partway through these tests, adding some wormhole physics that both simplify and complicate the puzzles.
The second game in what we all hope becomes a series features a totally separate co-op storyline where you play with a friend as a pair of robots. At its base, co-op mode requires a great deal of communication and coordination to toss each other through obstacles with precision. You’re always moving, always considering your environment as a team and sometimes creating strategies solely by describing to the other player surroundings you can see and they cannot. This is the digital equivalent of trust falls. As if that isn’t enough to test your potential partner’s communication and cooperation skills, Valve added achievements that encourage betrayal.
My boyfriend and I played over Steam from our respective homes, using voice chat to communicate through the courses. We found an extra layer of challenge: my boyfriend has a type of colorblindness that doesn’t allow him to see the shade difference between the blue and purple portals Atlas (the shorter robot) shoots. One of our greatest moments in the co-op game was completing the “Talent Show” achievement, which only 2% of Steam users have earned, on our second time in the test chamber.
There’s little I can say about Battleblock Theater that wasn’t said in the above trailer. If you aren’t in a place you can watch the video, know it features cartoonishly violent ways to navigate death-trap performances alone, with a buddy, or while making friends explode in a little competition. Tons of fun, but “friendly fire” is an understatement.
When playing storymode co-op in Battleblock, difficultly goes up a notch as most gaps and heights become impassable without tossing your partner about. Hilarity ensues when, in the rush of the moment, you’re tossed into a spike trap instead of landing safely; frustration truly sets in during the timed levels with more traps and not a second to spare. More than cooperation, this co-op game tests your patience as you and your friends die again….and again….and again…
World of Keflings
When’s the last time you heard “We’re playing house! I’ll be the daddy and you can be the zombie!” For me, that was last month as I listened to my kids playing. Still, worried about those maternal/paternal instincts (this applies to furbabies too) in a potential partner? Testing how well your startup partner understands scalable systems? Try growing three kingdoms one log at a time, building a sustainable industrial standard and trade system.
Other questions to answer: How well do you resist the urge to kick your keflings? When you learn you’re scored on how many buildings you add the final piece to complete, do you walk slower? Who gets to pick the paint color for the buildings? While much slower-paced than the previous games I’ve mentioned, World of Keflings is quite satisfying to complete. Probably something about having hundreds of tiny minions dancing about your feet in gratitude.
Any Lego Game
Selflessness is truly tested when your partner can never really die, you can complete all the puzzles yourself by switching characters on the fly, and glory can be shared while carrying a weaker player with no penalty to yourself. “Yeah honey, you totally helped on that fight, I promise.” Brownie points!
All the Lego games are tons of fun anyway and do require quite a bit of puzzle-solving (sometimes even teamwork), but the real question is how long you or your partner will “put up” with the other’s help when they really don’t have to do anything at all for you to win. Need a real-life example? “Why are you trying to open that jar? Why didn’t you just ask me to do it for you?” It hurts your pride to get carried through anything, but can the other player keep from grabbing the metaphorical controller from your hands and doing it alone?
These are just four suggestions from the games my boyfriend and I have played as long-distance dates the last year. We learned a lot about each other and enjoyed much-needed downtime in this hectic world. Do you have any favorite co-op games you enjoy with your friends, co-workers, or partners?