It’s hard enough finding time to play video games when you’re working a full-time job and have to deal with the obligations of adult life. Balancing your hobbies with a meaningful relationship can be difficult, too, but it becomes particularity troublesome when your significant other doesn’t know the first thing about video games. Maybe he or she thinks of them as childish, or maybe it’s just a simple case of him or her wanting your attention. Of course, some gamers are lucky enough to have found someone that enjoys playing video games as much as they do – but that’s not always a good thing, either. So, what’s the best way to approach playing video games with regard to one’s significant other? I’m still not quite sure I know, but I’m getting a pretty decent idea.
One thing to keep in mind is that all girls (and guys) are different. I always laugh when I see books on how to pick up chicks or, going further, how to play women so that you have a stable waiting for you to call. It’s not that these techniques or methods won’t work, it’s just that every girl responds to things differently – it’s impossible to say for sure what the effect of a certain strategy will be on all women. What does this have to do with gaming? Well, my point is that everyone’s different – you can’t go on the assumption that just because your girlfriend is, well, a girl, that she’s going to necessarily like “girly” games. The same is true for guys – it’s not a guarantee that your boyfriend is going to like violent games or sports games. But then again, they don’t have to.
There are three types of gamers in relationships. There are those who want to share the fun they have playing video games with their significant others and make gaming an activity that they can participate in together, there are those who are lucky enough to be in a relationship with another gamer (and for them, everything in this article is pretty much moot), and then there are those who don’t really care if their significant other actually likes video games, they just want them to respect gaming as a hobby and not whine every time you pick up the controller. For the most part, I fall into that last category, although my fiance does find a game or two every once in a while that she’s really into.
As far as getting your significant other to look past video games as childish and instead respect them as a legitimate hobby, I don’t think there’s anything in particular you can say to explain it – everyone likes video games for different reasons, but if your boyfriend or girlfriend is so petty as to not respect your hobby – be it video games, fishing, painting, playing basketball, or whatever – then you probably shouldn’t be with someone like that to begin with. Of course, it’s not that black-and-white, so there are, I suppose, two points you can bring up. The first is that the reason there are very few “older” games – as in, adults – is because gaming is without a doubt a generational phenomenon. When you love a hobby, you tend to stick with that hobby for life, and there’s no doubt in my mind that many of us will be playing video games well into old age. But that’s because we grew up playing video games; the generation before ours did not. Suffice to say, video games are here to stay.
The second explanation is simply that video games are a challenging, interactive form of entertainment. The guy who beat Billy Mitchell’s record score in Donkey Kong said something along the lines of, “Yeah, it’s just a video game, but it’s pretty cool to be the best in the world at something.” It is pretty cool to be the best (or very, very good) at something, even if that something is a test of eye-hand coordination. I love video games for the graphics, story, sound, gameplay, and everything else that goes into a game, but if the game doesn’t challenge me, I’ll lose interest pretty quickly. Your boyfriend or girlfriend may not understand video games, but surely they understand the concept of being challenged.
Now, onto the sticky subject of just what types of games are best for your non-gamer significant other. Again, everyone’s going to have different tastes, so you have to know who you’re “selling” to. If your man or woman grew up with Nintendo and Sega and loved Super Mario Bros. or Sonic or Mario Kart, then you’re in luck – there are plenty of games around today that follow that same, simple formula, not to mention the Mario or Sonic games themselves that are still around. Chances are your guy or girl will be a lot more comfortable with a linear platformer than, say, Ninja Gaiden 2. If that isn’t their cup of tea, you can always try puzzle games, like Hexic or Peggle. It’s rare that someone who doesn’t play video games regularly is going to immediately take to Modern Warfare 2 or something like that, but you never know – my fiance was playing Shadow Complex for hours a day while I was at work, and she even finished it before I did. I was furious.
In the end, I suppose all you can really ask for is that you are allowed to continue your hobby of playing video games without too much resistance from your significant other. Explaining to them just why you love video games may help matters, and it can’t hurt to try and get them into gaming, too. For those of you who are in relationships with people who like to game as much as you do, well, congrats. I definitely envy you. I’ll leave with this, though, and maybe it’s more for myself than it is for anyone else – when your guy or girl is giving you sh*t for playing video games, if all of the above fail, just be happy that someone craves your attention to begin with. That always makes it easier to put down the controller.