Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

In The Beginning

In My Girlfriend Does Not Play Video Games on June 30, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I’m writing this, because I imagine there are other gamers in the same situation as I am.

My girlfriend — actually my fiancée, but I don’t feel like looking up whether it’s fiancé or fiancée, not to mention hunting down the “é” on the character map — does not play video games.  She’s not really in to them.  As a medium, it’s something she’s largely written off; not as incapable of inciting an emotional response or producing a worthwhile narrative, but simply incapable of being as such to her.  This affliction extends beyond gaming and into all non live-action mediums for reasons that may simply be reduced to personal taste.  And, as we are all aware, in matters of personal taste, there can be no argument.  She shan’t be convinced.

I’ve tried convincing her.  To date, she’s shown the most interest in heavily narrative-driven titles, and among these only those with voice-over narration stand out.  The two (2) titles she’s sat down and actually watched me play — a tremendous event far rarer than a blue moon — have been Legacy of Kain: Defiance and Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy, though she (of course) agreed that the latter’s plot devolved into an exercise in incredulity.

But these paragraphs do little to describe her interests.  When I met her, her favored movies were indie, art-house flicks and she never shied away from a hefty foreign film for the subtitles.  Her father instilled in her a great appreciation for science fiction, and through our relationship I cultivated with her an interest in zombies, superhero movies and Jason Statham (I also got her into plays).  She likewise shared her interests with me, and as far as cinema is concerned I think we’ve both broadened our horizons and now share very similar tastes in film.

So it’s not that she’s too high brow to deign to accept games as a medium to deliver fun; enjoying Crank and its sequel officially revoked both of our rights as such.  She’s just not into gaming.

Because this is not a hobby we share, there’s been a great deal of tension over the time it takes away from “us.”  She’s madly in love with me, and I her.  When we watch movies, we watch them together; we can tolerate even crappy films by simply being with one another.  Gaming, in contrast, is not something we do together and she does view it as direct competition to her where I am concerned.  We’ve really gotten into it a few times if she perceives that I am playing when I ought to be spending time with her.

It doesn’t help that gaming serves as a conduit to hang out with my brother and my friends; suddenly, she’s not competing with just games, but the rest of my social life.  If you thought this would mellow her out — after all, I’m not leaving the house for some nebulous, potentially adulterous “poker night” — but it just seems to incite further feelings of resentment to the medium.

It takes me away from her.  It cuts her evenings short.  She spends hours, alone and asleep, waiting for me to come to bed as I game the evening away, and of course I stay up too late.  It presents too much of an idea that never may there be a day “just for her” as I continue to enjoy a gaming nightcap night after night.  It prevents me from helping out around the house as I should; and quite unfairly, while she does chores by herself, I consider time away from her to be gaming time by default.  When does she get to relax?  Were she not around to prod me, I would likely do nothing but game, be perpetually late and procrastinate everything as I defer to my hobby.

In my defense, I have tried explaining that I play at night because she offers no opportunity to do so during the day.  I have no qualms about this; I understand full well that the afternoon and evening should be used to see movies, eat dinner and generally spend time with each other.  Additionally, she does not have the legs for staying up late as I do, and she’ll naturally begin to feel drowsy a little after nine in the evening.  I’ve also plead that she “wins” over my friends and gaming more often than not, and she expects any engagements I have scheduled to be canceled at her whim if “something comes up.”  And, while I do admit I could be much better about keeping up the house, I would contend that I do most of my gaming in the evening, when it’s generally not suitable to, say, start vacuuming.

What this most often boils down to, is that on occasion I am thoughtless with either the timing or the duration of my gaming, ignoring chores and girlfriend alike, and she is occasionally callous in her absolute rejection of my hobby and social outlet, starting an argument in the middle of a session (“in front of my friends” so to speak) or outright denying whole swaths of perfectly viable game time on general principle.  This doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, but it also means that this problem isn’t going away any time soon.

I’ll close with an anecdote of the first time this came up:

We weren’t living together as yet, but for whatever reason, I would be staying the whole extended weekend.  As she had to work during this weekend, I thought it would be kind of nice to bring my Gamecube to entertain myself with while she was out.  As she was showering for work that day, I got out my equipment, hooked it up and began playing (Phantasy Star Online, if you must know).  She got out of the shower and was appalled I that would be playing during her last few moments with me before leaving for work.  I backpedalled, agreeing in principle and stated that I was making sure it still worked.  At that point, however, the damage had been done; she left in fear that our weekend would be overshadowed by my gaming.  For my part, I distanced the gaming so severely from our time together that it may have set an unfortunate precedent… but we did have a wonderful weekend.