If you’re married to/dating someone who doesn’t like gaming,
you’ve likely been given this look before.
If you were to ask my wife about her involvement in gaming, she would look you off with a roll of her eyes and a very likely “don’t get me started.”
That is to say, she shares very little of my interest in the gaming world.
So little interest, in fact, that she would rather me stay up all night playing and not spend time with her than play them while she is in the room.
I realize not all significant others are like this, but I suspect my wife is not the only one who views gaming with such disdainful fervor.
Fortunately for me (and I hope those of you who share my situation), I am able to accept this.
What I cannot seem to do, however, is understand it. So, I’ve put together a list of things that all non-gaming significant others should know about your counterpart’s interest in gaming (you know, for those times when you say “I just don’t understand the interest.”). So, if you continue reading, I’ll be writing the remainder of this entry as though I’m addressing my wife (or, a group of significant others that don’t get why we love our games).
We love the stories
For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed a well-written story. Whether it came in the form of a picture book from my childhood or a novel as a youth and adult, I always found satisfaction in taking in a thoughtful piece of writing.
That is why, in many (if not most) cases, I love the gaming experience: Because the game has the ability to provide that great storytelling experience with an interactivity that lets you progress the story with your actions.
Games like BioShock, the Mass Effect series, Jak and Daxter, Uncharted, the early Resident Evil games (speed runs on Resident Evil 2, anyone?) just to name a few, are titles that have left me feeling satisfied and thankful for the experience I was able to enjoy. Each of those games are also games I’ve played multiple times because – like any good book – sometimes one reading just isn’t enough, given the contents of the story.
We love a good challenge
As much as I love putting challenging puzzles together, there’s something about a puzzle that just doesn’t hold a candle to the challenge of besting your own best effort in a game.
BioShock, for example, was a great game. It was a game I had beaten more than once on the normal setting – so many times, in fact, that I knew most of the points in the game that were supposed to the main character.
However, there came a point when I decided I wanted more out of the game. So, I played it on Survivor mode, just to see how well I could do and if I had the patience and ability to finish the game.
The interesting thing about this experience is, it took the game to an entirely different level. Not only was it more challenging, but those same points I knew about in the back of my mind had me genuinely scared for my character. Now that’s awesome.
We LOVE competition
There are a lot of us who really enjoy the competitive aspect of games. Whether it’s besting our friends’ times in a particular time-based course/car race/whatever or destroying an enemy team in a Team Deathmatch/Rush match, our need for competition and our desire to be the best is allowed to shine brightly in online multiplayers.
Some people might tell you that they do it just for fun – and that’s fine – because they probably do. But anyone who says they don’t care if they lose the match is being, at the very least, somewhat dishonest. If we didn’t want to win, we wouldn’t play.
Sometimes you just can’t explain how good it feels to be engaged in an incredibly close match and end up winning by a single point at the end. Real life or not, those of us who still want to compete but don’t have the *cough* physical ability *cough* to do so can enjoy some great multiplayer action (and, it turns out may be good for your eye sight!).
Trust me – we may sound angry when we play a first-person shooter, but it’s not anger at anything other than the fact that we’re getting our behinds handed to us, so please – don’t take it personally.
We love to pretend, but we also know what is real
You may scoff at this, but it’s true. Some of us just love to use our imaginations and step out of our own lives and into the world and lives of the games that we’re playing.
And what’s wrong with that? Sometimes the best way to deal with stress in our lives is to take a step back and put our minds somewhere else, even if that is in the form of a video game where we’re playing as a Nord Warrior who is seeking to save the known world from the clutches of an evil, world-eating dragon (I’ve been playing a LOT of Skyrim lately).
Of course I realize that my virtual life should never take precedence over my real life – and it doesn’t. Never would the progress I’ve established in a video game trump the fact that I have a wonderful real life with a beautiful family.
However, the more you harp at me for playing my games, the more it offends me that you think I value my game system more than you. So stop it.
We simply love our video games
That might sound like a “duh,” but truth is, we really enjoy the experience of playing our games. If we didn’t we wouldn’t spend $60 a game to get our hands on the latest and greatest titles.
Similar to my first point, it’s like having an author or genre of books that you really enjoy – when that author comes out with a new book, you want to read it, right? Well, we want to play the next title from our favorite author or play the next entry in a series that we’ve invested so much time in already.
When it comes to entertainment, personal preference is hard to argue against. If everyone liked the same thing, we would all play on the same console/read the same books/drive the same cars – you know the deal; we’d be boring. Fortunately, we all have different ways in which we thoroughly enjoy spending our time. It just so happens mine is video games.
I don’t know what difference something like what I’ve written here will or would make with my or anyone else’s significant other, but I do wish those of them out there who have such a poor view of gaming would take the time and try to understand their counterpart’s interest.
Who knows, maybe having a little more insight will be all it takes to bring another convert into the gaming family and change some attitudes at home. We can dream, right?
Editor’s Note: I realize this is not an all-encompassing list, so if you have something you think should be on it, by all means let me know and I will add it to the list with your name attached to it!