by Matt Duczeminski
It is indeed a beautiful day when an article like this can no longer truthfully open with “Although most gamers are male teenagers…” The fact is, video games have become increasingly prevalent in all modern households, regardless of whether or not the owners consider themselves “hardcore” video gamers. And in ever-increasing amounts, couples find themselves turning to video games on rainy date nights, traveling together to virtual worlds from the comfort of their couches.
Any couple who’s ever spent a day with two controllers aimed at a television knows these 10 things:
1. You have to be patient
Okay, even though video games are pretty prevalent today, one person out of the couple is usually much more experienced when it comes to playing them. While this party has always tried to get his (or her, sorry) significant other into gaming, when she (or he) finally succumbs, it’s often not a pretty sight.
We’ve all had to answer the same questions over and over for a full half hour after they decide to jump in: “Which button is jump?” “How do you get over there?” “Why won’t you wait for me?!” We experienced gamers have to keep in mind we’ve been doing this since the NES days, and need to give our significant other time to acclimate to the world of gaming, no matter how annoying it can be at first.
2. You learn to work as a team
A lot of today’s multiplayer games make it essential for each player to perform a specific role. Games like World of Warcraft are much easier when you have a priest healing your warrior consistently. If that’s not a perfect metaphor for a relationship, then there isn’t one. In games that require partnerships, the relationship is always symbiotic. In Little Big Planet, it’s literally impossible to get every sticker without working as a team (and yes, you should always let the less-experienced one get the stickers). Just like in real life, it’s not important who gets the glory, as long as you both reach your common goal.
3. You have to take the reins sometimes
Sometimes, there are just parts of a game’s mechanics that your significant other just will not be able to grasp. For the sake of getting past what should be a quick obstacle (and for the sake of your relationship), the more experienced gamer has to just take the controller and do his thing. Though this will inevitably upset the other party (“If you want me to play with you, let me play!”), it will ultimately allow both of you to continue the game and attack the next obstacle head on.
4. The less experienced one will always figure something out quicker than you
The beauty of video games is you don’t have to be experienced to be able to do well with them. In contrast to say, golf, where it’s extremely rare that a novice will get a hole in one on their first drive, video games are built so that even the most inexperienced gamer can pick up a controller and start playing.
Of course, this can be a double-edged sword. As a self-proclaimed master gamer, how many times have you been stuck on a certain puzzle or level, only to have your noob significant other pick up a controller, jump around aimlessly a few times, and unlock some power-up that gets your character past the obstacle with ease? We all know what comes next…
5. The less experienced one will never let you live that moment down
After your better half “figures out” that puzzle that’s been driving you nuts for hours, he or she will probably gloat about how easy it was, and make fun of you for how upset you were – and how much more upset you got after he or she got you past it. The upside to this situation is that your loved one might realize video games aren’t all that difficult, and decide to give them a deeper look. Letting them have their moment of glory is a small price to pay for the unlimited fun you can have when your partner finally takes the plunge and immerses herself in the world of gaming.
6. You make in-game sacrifices
You’ve run your level 90 mage through all of the low-level dungeons in WoW with your SO’s hunter over and over so he or she can catch up to you (and hopefully not lose interest by that time). You’ve watched patiently (read: painfully) as they try to solve a puzzle in Portal that you solved months ago (even though it took you the same amount of time to figure out). You let her make “improvements” to your mansion in Minecraft without saying a word.
You’ve done all this, knowing you could be running end-game raids, destroying GLaDOS, or venturing into The End, because you know what’s really important: spending time with the one you love, knowing they’re truly enjoying themselves.
7. You realize you’re actually better at something than they are
Even if it is something silly like video games. Anyone who’s truly in love admires their significant other for their accomplishments, talent, and drive. You look up to them, and spend every waking moment improving yourself to make you even more worthy of their love than you were the day before. Once you load up that system, however, you finally have one-up on them. You can show them the ropes, feel confident that you’re in charge, and know exactly what you’re doing. Unlike the rest of your life, which is a complete mess, you can actually make sense of the going-ons around you when you have a controller in your hand.
8. You know it’s all in good fun
We understand that all’s fair in love, war, and video games. Gloating and showboating, from both parties, comes with the territory when couples engage in any sort of gaming. Whether playing competitive games like Mario Kart or (supposedly) cooperative games like Little Big Planet, it’s inevitable that each of you will have your moment to shine, and each of you will make bonehead moves that the other will surely remind you of throughout the gaming session.
But, hopefully, when you shut the system off, you can look back at the whole time you spent making fun of each other, or getting absolutely enraged with one another, and know there’s nothing else in the world you would rather have been doing.
9. You play differently together than when you play alone
Something weird happens when you play a game with your significant other: you look at it from an entirely differentslow down your speed runs to allow your SO time to explore and get acclimated with the game. You don’t break out as many special moves as you normally would. Maybe you break out more special moves than you normally would, you show-off. You spend less time running over innocent civilians, and spend an hour exploring Mt. Chilead. In yet another metaphor for life, playing video games with the love of your life makes you aware of all the in-game beauty you’ve been missing while rushing toward your goal.
10. You realize it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s important
In video games, as in life, we often are looking forward to what’s next. You don’t want your WoW character to be level 10; you want to hit 90 ASAP. You probably simulate at least half of the games in the regular season of your NBA 2K franchise, only playing the big games and the playoffs. Even playing games like Metal Gear Solid, which you swear has cut-scenes that are way too long, you’re not satisfied until you find out what happens to Snake next.
When you play with your significant other, all this goes away; you actually play in the moment. Not only do you appreciate the game while playing it, you actually don’t want to reach the end. You’ll want to shut out the real world for as long as possible, enjoying every moment you can with your love by your side. (Awwwww…)