He sits on the other side of the room, watching your back intently, listening as you scream, “Oh, c’mon! That’s the second time you guys all dropped the ball!!” while clutching your controller with white knuckles. Your team just lost round two, a crippling loss, but while you are highly aware of this defeat you are a lot less aware that your bae has been waiting on “one last game” for the past two hours.
In another home, she walks through the door after work. She had texted to ask you what you wanted for dinner but, your phone was left in the bathroom after some intense business, and so, she was provided radio silence. Now she’s through the door, heavy bags of groceries in her hands, and no “hey honey!” is waiting for her. In fact, you will not even notice she’s home until you get a tap on the shoulder and lurch your headset off, turn around in your gaming chair, and see her unenthusiastic glare.
I cannot count the number of “discussions” I have had with significant others, as a gamer, over gaming. Sometimes I induced the frustration dating someone, who can fall head-over-heels for a newly discovered title, can cause. Other times I was delivering my woes to my partner who had found a game that seemed to suck them out of reality, and therefore, away from me. I have felt the uncomfortable pangs of jealousy more so over Halo than any other female. And, I know my obsessions with a few franchises have either brought me closer to someone, or dragged me a distance from them. So, what’s the deal? Is gaming a hobby hell-bent on threatening everything but the best of relationships? An anomaly within past-times that caters to the core of lackluster habits? Or, do some people need to just chiiiiiiill, relax; it’s just a game, babe!
Losing Track of Time
I am not sure how many hobbies exist that can create such a time sink as playing video games, while still being relatively harmless. Think about it. Sports that require physical activity take too much stamina to go for hours a day. You can certainly lose track of time drinking, but, you won’t lose track of the repercussions when the next morning comes around. And, playing Monopoly can take up a ton of time and not hurt you but, it takes a special kind of person to make Monopoly a straight up past-time. What is worse is, when you DO realize how long you have been playing, most times it is just impressive. “Damn, this game is… awesome!” says the person who just lost 10 hours of their day to the new MMO they tried out. This can be wholly terrifying to the outsider, who might as well have witnessed you slipping out of a semi-alert coma because let’s face it– a great, immersive, creative game that challenges you can be a death sentence to your productivity that weekend, or month, or, sometimes, year…
Routine. Anyone who has found “their” game(s) knows the impulsive, near addictive, traits it can provoke. Preparing yourself for the draw of a video game’s siren call is your best bet. Plan out when you will play, and let you partner in on the excitement beforehand. If they know it is coming up and you want to spend time playing it, they will be a lot less confused when you simply disappear. Also, you get to prolong your love of it and ward off burn-out. Nothing is worse than losing interest in a game you have overplayed and then living in a world where all the games available can’t take its place.
What if you had only tried…
Minding the responsibility of a relationship, it is an awkward position to find yourself being dragged from your new-found-love and ‘forced’ to spend time with the ball-and-chain, an actual human being. You may think you are doing your partner a solid just simply turning the game off. I mean, you left a game you were really enjoying! Your body is now before them, on the couch, out at dinner, or on a walk. But, just maybe, your head is still in the game? I feel like fellow gamers are even more aware when their partner is still mentally wrecking shit in game despite a story about a work day being shared, but most partners who spend any amount of time caring about you will notice if something is off. A few warning signs you are daydream-gamin’: Your boo is sharing a mildly interesting happening, and you are unaware that your glazed over eyes do not dissipate when they suddenly interject to say one of your pets is dead (untrue, but a good test). They notice your thumbs seem to be phantom button smashing. You catch yourself calling them the name of one of the NPC characters you recently interacted with. Or, maybe you are just sucking as a partner and you know it (or don’t).
This one is a little more tricky. Sometimes it is best to go ahead and tell your partner about the game, get it out of your system, and move onto other topics. However, many partners may not really be all too enthused to immediately hear about your stats or tactics if they have been waiting to spend time with you. I think the best option here is awareness. If you have a habit of not leaving the game behind, and therefore not being totally present with your partner, take a moment between the game and quality time. Wash your face, look up the news for the day (yes the earth is still rotating), look on social media, do whatever it takes to move into the mindset that will allow your partner to feel appreciated. This does not mean you have to closet your enjoyment of the title you are playing, but, it is always considerate to ask how another person is doing, and listen, before tail-spinning into your own happenings.
They are crazy!
Perhaps no matter how much you love your partner, they will not let you love your games. This could be due to some serious insecurities on their end, a lack of hobbies they feel passionate about, or a genuine wtf-why-do-you-still-game-you-are-an-adult mentality some people still have towards gaming, stigmatizing gamers as losers. You have tried a schedule, you have tried talking to them about it, you have tried… EVERYTHING! Still, they huff and puff and resent you for your sweet skills.
The Cure: The easiest response here is to say, breakup. Sometimes that is the actual answer, if, you have dug deep and truly find yourself being completely reasonable and them being the opposite. However, there might be a few things you can do to bridge the gap. ..What if, they played with you? If they lack experience gaming it may open their eyes to your enjoyment, or, if they are gamers themselves, they may feel more included in your shared hobby. If that does not work, think about their interests, and try to work out a schedule with them. When they play soccer or knit, you play your game and then meet up for dinner and talk about your experience. If nothing seems to settle their unease, asking them if they would be willing to lose out on a relationship with you due to your totally reasonable gaming routine can open up an honest discussion. See what they truly want, what their concerns are, and if any middle ground exists in their happy place. If the answer is no, you know the next steps.
Written by, Monica. @UnicornholeTV