New England Gamer
Love is Just a Game
Life sometimes offers moments that reaffirm the love you have for the people in
Back in 2008 Metal Gear Solid 4 was my must-have game. I went so far as to
reserve a copy, something I rarely do for a game as generally speaking the games I
like don't tend to run out in the sparsely populated hills of Vermont. That said,
come the morning of MGS4's release, I wanted to be sure that I would have a copy.
When I got it home, I tore it out of the wrapping, popped it into my PS3 and started
playing. After playing for about two hours, I stopped and shut off the game. I
didn't save. Part of this is because Metal Gear Solid 4 is awesome and I didn't
mind playing through the beginning again. Mostly though it was because I wanted
my wife, then my girlfriend, to see it.
When she arrived home and I started playing she seemed a bit off about it. She
wasn't necessarily a fan of the Metal Gear Solid games, you see. In fact, as I
played, it dawned on me that she might only have paid attention to them in the past
simply because it was hard to ignore when I played it only on the TV in the room
with her there. She must hate it, I thought. The weirdness of the franchise finally
got the best of her. Feeling a bit discouraged, I continued playing. Later,
discovering we needed a new ink cartridge, we found ourselves at Best Buy; and as
I often do, I spent a bit of time browsing. Passing through rows of flat screen
televisions I wore the face of a kid in a candy store.
My wife came up beside me, rubbing my back softly as she eyed the TVs with me.
"We should get you one of these."
I laughed. We had a Best Buy card, which in the short term helped to alleviate the
buyer's guilt that accompanies splurging on something you really don't need. That
said, at the end of the day spending $1200 is spending $1200, no matter how you
swing it. Nonetheless, despite my protests she pressed on.
"You don't want things very often, and you'd love this." She insisted. Somehow
we had moved to TVs even bigger than the ones we had been near a moment
before. I offered up more frail, halfhearted protests. I wanted her to talk me into
this, and she knew it. She then said something that I will never forget.
"Won't Metal Gear Solid 4 look cool on that?"
She had me. The argument was infallible.
We hailed a sales associate; a scruffy, spectacled fellow who, considering the size
of our purchase, was likely wishing he worked over at Circuit City where they paid
on commission. He rung us up and we took home a 40" Sony Bravia.
Moments like these, in general, make it hard for me to empathize with the apparent
leagues of spouses that have declared themselves gaming widows. Though I have
no doubt that their problems are legitimate, and do feel badly for them, gaming as a
whole is just far too integrated into my marriage for me to even imagine my wife
feeling really put out by a video game. This is mostly because, as often as I play
games, she plays them almost as much herself. Case in point, probably my favorite
release of 2009 was Dragon Age: Origins. That said, as much as I enjoyed the
game, my wife loves it at least tenfold as strongly. At first she just watched, asking
me questions, making suggestions about what to do and what choices to make.
This sideline interaction, however, quickly turned into her bogarting the PS3 and
my beloved big screen for her own, day-long play sessions as she went through the
game again, and again, and again.
In fact, I would say my PSP and DS saw more playtime in the last few months of
2009 than in the entire year before, solely because she was playing Dragon Age so
much. It got to the point where I was feeling put out I wanted my PS3 back,
dagnabbit We eventually solved the issue by buying her a copy for our PC which
in the past had only played host to The Sims. She would later go on to introduce me
to the Mass Effect games, which I had previously ignored due to our lack of an
Xbox 360 and moreover, some odd disinterest on my part. In short, yes, I did
marry the coolest woman on the planet.
What I truly like about us, however, are the ways in which we compliment one
another through our differing habits. I tend to fancy myself an in-the-moment
gamer. I love video games, but once I beat something I generally move on to the
next title as quickly as I can muster the cash. Save for a few games -- I did play
Metal Gear Solid 4 to death -- I often enjoy reminiscing about a good game more
than I do replaying it. She on the other hand likes to replay games and in the
process learn their every detail, their every foible. With Dragon Age for instance,
before she took a turn at it, I did multiple play throughs because she wanted to see
more of the game. What better way to spend time, after all, than snuggling up on
the couch playing a game we both love? The more I played Dragon Age the more I
realized that I too liked replaying them, and have since devoted some time to
giving older games another go, rather than just moving on to the next thrill.
Love, I have learned, is a tricky thing. It requires work -- and a lot of it. But
honestly, I think that no love, no matter how intense, can really survive without
some sort of common ground. As much as it is important to foster your own life
and your own interests, there has to be something that you and your partner can
share. Some of this can come from teaching each other about new things. Before
meeting my wife, I never knew that I could enjoy country music, and I doubt that
she would know half of what she does about Batman had I not strolled into her life.
At the end of the day though, it's nice to have that thing that doesn't have to be
taught or learned. That puzzle piece that just fits from the moment you meet. For
some couples it's theater. Others prefer to go cycling. We play video games. You
can knock it, but it works.
Read more by Stewart Shearer