How to Play Video Games With Your Non-Gamer Wife

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Yes, we had a Legend of Zelda wedding cake.

As you probably know, I’m married to an avid video-gamer. Stuart not only plays and collects various video games but also works in the industry. Our living room has far too many video games and video game consoles on display. And even more stored away,… somewhere. And yet, I barely play any video games at all. However, in the last few years since we’ve been together, Stuart’s managed to get me to play a number of video games with him. The following are a few tips to Stuart which may (or may not) also help other gamers and their wives:

Easy controls
It’s hard enough for me to remember where A, B, X and Y are on the Wiimote. But then to remember where the X, circle, triangle and square are on the Playstation controllers? Forget it. And why is there a D-pad AND not one but TWO analog sticks? So forgive me if I don’t want to play anything that requires me to remember to push multiple buttons in sequence to do some sort of combo. I can handle two buttons and maybe a third later on once I’ve mastered the first two. Or maybe a racing game like Mario Kart that only requires me to go forward and turn once in a while using the D-pad (or analog stick if I’m feeling daring). Or a zombie shooting game where it’s point and shoot.

Be helpful rather than frustrated
One of Stuart’s favourite things he used to say to me when we played together was “Stop dying”. I think this is singularly one of the most aggravating phrases to say during gameplay. Because it’s not like I want to die. Most of the time, I’m barely even registering that I’m dying as I haven’t been looking at my health/life meter thing. But recently while playing Skylanders, Stuart told me to try standing back and throwing fireballs at the enemies rather than rushing up to them to kill them. It was like a lightbulb went off. It was obvious to him but to me, I couldn’t understand why I kept dying and what I was doing wrong or how else to approach the bad guys. But now I knew and I survived much longer before dying. By telling me precisely what I was doing wrong and what I could do to prevent it, my gameplay improved more than by commanding me to “stop dying”.

Low level commitment games
My attention span is low for video games. I usually can’t play video games for more than half an hour. One hour tops if I’m really into it. Stuart on the other hand will play for hours on end, well into the night. If we’re playing together, it needs to be a game with minimal commitment. Something I can join easy and drop out of easily if I get bored or frustrated with it. The dropping out part is important especially if I’m proving to be more detrimental than helpful to passing the level. Like when we were playing New Super Mario Bros on the Wii, I’d sometimes put myself into a bubble and essentially take myself out of play so Stuart could get past a particularly challenging section with me holding him back or getting in the way.

In the end, I’ve played a few video games, even finishing some all by myself. I’m not a gamer and probably won’t ever be one. But I’m learning to enjoy playing video games since it’s one way for us to spend time together.

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