Category Archives: Marriage

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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Geeking Out

Meeting David Hayter (2nd from the left) who voices Snake in Metal Gear Solid.

Today, my husband & I went to Fan Expo at the Vancouver Convention Centre. We met up with his friend Byron who asked me, “So how many of these things has Stu dragged you to?”

I smiled because while it’s only been a few “nerd cons” that he’s taken me to such as Anime Evolution, there have definitely been quite a few nerd activities I’ve participated in since meeting my husband. Being married to a nerd, it’s all become part of the territory. Video games. Japanese Anime. Sci Fi movies & TV shows.

Stuart works in the video game industry so I’ve watched him play countless games. I myself have become interested in a few of them: Legend of Zelda, God of War, Uncharted and Infamous. I’ve even played and finished a few video games: something I never thought would happen after passing Super Mario World on Super Nintendo back in 1998. Namely, all the games in the Professor Layton series – I can’t help it, I’m obsessed! I’ve also watched a few anime movies: mostly the Miyazaki movies. My favourite one is Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’ve also seen more Arnold Schwarzenegger movies than I care to name off. The last one being Total Recall. As a result, I can quote off more Arnold Schwarzenegger movie lines than I care to tell you. And currently, we’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation which I’ve developed a new appreciation for.

Some of my friends think I’m a saint for putting up with his geeky ways. But in truth, I don’t mind it much. A lot of the geek things, I know because growing up, my brother developed an interest in some of the stuff (and subsequently, so did I). Nintendo games such as Mario Bros, Zelda and Street Fighter are familiar to me because I used to watch and play them with my brother and his friends. When my brother came back home after his first year at UVic, he brought with him a strong interest in anime. Together, we watched Macross, Oh! My Goddess, Slayers and Bubblegum Crisis amongst others. So I use a lot of my knowledge of this stuff from many, many years ago and try to understand and apply it to things today.

But mostly, I don’t mind geeking out because it interests my husband and it’s important to him. Afterall, he works in video games, so this stuff is his livelihood. The geeks are who keep his industry alive and are ultimately the ones to give him a job. So the least I can do is support him and try to understand his geek side, even if what I walk away with is just a little clearer an understanding and a bit more appreciation. It would be horrible of me to simply roll my eyes and dismiss his interests as trivial. My husband is important to me and so his interests need to be important to me as well.

And in turn, my husband participates in many Anna-centric things too such as live theatre. For instance, every year, we go see Bard on the Beach, even though I know he’d never see a Shakespeare play on his own.

I think it’s important that, even though we don’t have completely similar interests, we still respect each other’s. And we try, whenever and wherever possible, to participate in activites with each other. I used to worry that my husband wished that he had someone who was into all the same things he was into, much like his ex was. So he’d always have someone to talk to about the latest video game or someone to bitch to about the latest ways how George Lucas is screwing up Star Wars, etc. But now I see that it doesn’t matter that much that. Because we’re into different things, we both have the opportunity to learn from each other. And so long as we both share the same values and goals in life and we both can make each other laugh, that’s what’s most important.

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