Whether it ‘s a friend asking for a simple recommendation, or it’s your job at a shitty retail store to recommend titles to customers, trying to pass off a game to a person whilst making them happy can be seriously headache worthy. I much preferred the customer who came in knowing what they were looking for. In fact, unless the other person wanting the recommendation has your exact gaming tastes, trying to find a decent match can be toilsome. So here’s a few guidelines:
Forget your opinion.
Sure you may have loved this game or that game, but everyone’s tastes vary. What works for you doesn’t always mean it will resonate with them. I’m an avid player of JRPG’s or simply RPG’s but not a big fan of most shooters whatsoever. My friends have long since given up the hope that I’ll sit down and play a Call of Duty game these days. I’ve tried them several times, among other FPS’s and I don’t like them. I don’t knock them, but they don’t work for my taste. In turn, I wouldn’t recommend anything turn based to my roommate, because I know it’s not his thing.
Ask a lot of questions.
While you may have a better idea about your friend’s taste, when you work in retail questions are key. I still will ask one thousand and one questions, even now, because I like to get the best picture of what a person likes and dislikes. War games or fantasy? Turn based? First person? Third person? Heavily story based? How about only story based such as an interactive novel? Have you played this series or that series? What did you think of the previous game in this series? You should have a pretty good idea of what the person is into by the end of it all.
Prepare for their disappointment.
Most of my friends don’t play the same games I do, but it’s not for lack of trying. Even when they’ve asked me to recommend a fantastic JRPG for them I usually expect them to come back shaking their head. Because really, sometimes you just don’t have head for them. It’s like me and horror films. No thanks. So when I get a game back from a friend and they are like “how can you like that,” I just brush it off with a laugh. It’s not skin off my back. Everyone is going to have their own opinions and I’m not about to hold you down and play a game you can’t seem to get into. Oh well.
If they are willing, recommend something new and outside their normal taste.
They might actually be quite surprised. Although many people are set in their ways and their tastes, I would get a customer here and there curious about trying something new or “different.” In fact, one of my roommates and I are planning on trekking my Playstation 4 downstairs the day Final Fantasy X/X-2 is released so he can test out that particular turn based gameplay. He’s at least willing to give the story a chance and see if he can get past the turn based stigma he has in his head. Meanwhile I’ve agreed to play some Halo 5 when it releases this fall. I’m not anti any game. I tried Bioshock Infinite, which was far outside my comfort zone, and wound up absolutely adoring the game, despite it being first person. I’ll try anything at least once before making any type of judgement on whether it’s for me or not.
It’s never easy recommending a game to someone, especially a stranger. The gaming community is filled with many genres and plenty of gamers who have a slew of varying tastes. Much like with movies, literature and television shows, everyone is going to have their own opinions and preferences. What we need to do is learn a balance between paying homage to our own tastes while respecting what others like as well. In doing so you’ll fast become a recommendation master.