Dating a Gamer: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them!
Posted By: Jennifer - June 01, 2021
Dating a Gamer: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them!
How many times have you heard the phrase “my boyfriend is attached to his Xbox!” or “all my partner wants to do is play online with their friends!”?
I am Jenny, and here is my story and my experience dating a Gamer.
Both complaints are very familiar to me as someone who works with a lot of people in their mid-20s. While I completely understand the frustration of wanting to spend time together when one party seems like they would rather be doing something else, my advice is always the same: instead of trying to force them away from their hobby, perhaps you should change your perception. Let me explain.
The old sterotype of the single gamer is a thing of the past.
Way back in the summer of 2013, my partner and I moved in together for the first time. Being students, we had no money, so our flat was a tiny studio that afforded us next to no privacy from each other. Most importantly, the living room and kitchen were entirely open plan.
This was fine for us, as we have always gotten along well together, or so I thought. But with my partner came their Xbox 360.
Gamers totally can have hardcore sessions, but with all things comes balance. BALANCE TIMMY!
How many gamers are portrayed as angsty loners?
For a while, everything was fine, we spent lots of time together, and studying or work took up the rest. However, increasingly it became obvious that they were missing something. Not being a gamer myself, I didn’t understand the desire to spend hours staring at a screen and I desperately didn’t want us to become one of those couples who don’t spend any time together.
Our flat only had space for one TV in the main room, which the Xbox was hooked up to, I was at a loss of what to do while avoiding gaming.
As it turned out, the solution was surprisingly simple.
We do play games co-op games, but more often a singleplayer game together. We also have a lot more blankets and pillows!
Up until that point, my perception of videogames and, by extension, video gamers was very stereotypical. I was sold on the 30-year-old nerd in a darkened basement, probably with some hygiene issues, yelling into a headset at people they’ve never met as they angrily smash their opponents in games centred around senseless violence.
I had zero interest in having something like that take over my living space and swallow my partner’s attention. However, being a nervous 19-year-old, I did not voice my concerns. Luckily, my partner was far more mature and presented me with a solution.
I joined them for the story.
Seriously, the story makes the game for us, but that doesn't mean it will for you. Find your bonding game!
I love stories. Books, movies, tv shows, I’m a sucker for a good story and consume them like they’re going out of fashion. So, out of their collection of videogames, my partner pulled a game called Mass Effect, and my mind was blown. They suggested I watch them play for a bit and see what I thought. The game didn’t support co-op play, which meant there was no pressure on that front, so I cautiously agreed, and after that session I was hooked.
Here was an expansive story with varied and captivating characters, all beautifully rendered with innovative designs. What’s more, although the story was scripted, we had the choice of how to react to events through the dialogue options, and a range of side quests to pick from. While the majority of the gameplay was combat related, the focus of our game became the social interaction.
These games were the best, and I really learnt how to understand my gaming partner. Simply by accepting and attempting to understand their passion.
Yes, our game. I went from passive, disinterested spectator humouring someone they care about to active participant, discussing which options to choose and which side quests to complete in which order. Together, we got to know the characters and travelled with them on their journey. While my partner was in control of the character, it felt like we had been playing together, and more importantly, my perception had changed.
Eventually, we ran out of Mass Effect games and naturally moved on to the Dragon Age series. I was thrilled. More great games where we could collaboratively tell our own story within the narrative. We had a lot of fun customising our player character, choosing who to romance and how to react to the in-game events.
Hours and days slipped by without me really noticing, and before I knew it, it was time to choose a new game. Now we had a problem.
Wait, hold up. We want more Mass Effect!
Mass Effect became OUR game and we played them all and wanted more.
Up until this point, we had been playing RPGs with lots of options and expansive stories for me to engage with. However, we were students who couldn’t afford new games and were limited to Xbox titles.
So, my partner loaded up YouTube, and I discovered something new; full playthroughs. I found that people on the internet recorded themselves playing games for the entertainment of others, and more importantly, that I’m not the only person who enjoys watching people play games.
Bioshock was on the fence for me, but eventually it's story took me in.
After browsing around for a while, we eventually settled on Bioshock. By now, my partner had figured out that I’m interested in the aesthetic, art style, and sound design of a game as well as the story, and Bioshock is nothing if not atmospheric. So, we boot up the game and away we go to Rapture. Initially, I’m still sceptical. This game has fewer characters, no dialogue options, and is quite graphically violent. Will it hold my attention as the audience?
Yes, of course it is. Not just the story itself, whose cut scenes had me racing back from the bathroom yelling “PAUSE IT!”, but because of the real reason I was enjoying myself so much; spending time with someone I care about, doing something they are passionate about.
Gaming together had given me an insight into my partner that I might not otherwise have seen, and I loved it! Together, we figured out puzzles and realised that while I think very laterally and make intuitive leaps, they are more logical and will reason things out.
We complimented each other perfectly.
The stories, the panic and the FPS game together kept us riveted. Much better than just some TV.
Anyone who is familiar with the titles I’ve mentioned so far will know that they all deal with some very big, difficult topics. I found that by experiencing them together, we were able to discuss our own viewpoints more easily.
Did it spark some difficult and eye-opening conversations? Yes. Did we have different opinions? Yes, of course, we’re different people with different experiences to draw from.
But, by playing these games and discussing them openly, we learned more about each other and our relationship grew stronger and more trusting as a result.
Now I happily play games myself, and sometimes with my partner ;)
Happy Gaming and GL!