The game does not become unplayable.
In my opinion, for beginners like you I would actually reccomend playing with non-mandatory capture rules. I started out with non-mandatory capture rules and I actually found it thoroughly enjoyable.
Once you've gotten the hang of checkers, move on to mandatory capture rules. With mandatory captures rules, the game goes by faster than with non-mandatory capture rules, which is one one of the reasons why there are mandatory capture rules in moderate to high level play. This is the case because you can use this to control some your opponent's moves, which results in a lot more trading and taking. A friend introduced me to mandatory capture rules just as I'd gotten past beginner level, and I really got the hang of it.
There is something called the Huffing Rule variant, in which capturing is not mandatory, but if you don't capture the piece you forefit the would-be-capturer piece. I find this variant quite stupid, and would very rarely be of good use to a player.