Hello again, dear readers! I’m here to talk about something near and dear to a lot of us: playing with our significant others. My boyfriend and I have been dating for a while now, what feels like forever sometimes, or a month other times. We both play a lot of games together, cooperative and competitive alike. Our interests span the gaming spectrum, but one genre has frequently been neglected, like my houseplants. We both love fighting games, but rarely play them.
I like to think it’s because we play a lot of other games and don’t have time for them. Deep down, though, I think I just don’t like them as much as I used to. I loved playing fighting games in the past. They helped me meet new people and learn my fingers are as dexterous as turtles. They’re exciting and fun, even when they’re frustrating. After a while, though, they lost their charm. As companies churned the same game but with slight balances and maybe a new character or two every year or so, I lost interest. I didn’t have the drive or enthusiasm to keep up, and so they faded into the back of my mind as more intriguing games debuted.
Recently, though, my boyfriend cleaned out the streetpasses on his 3DS, and one game made him giddy: Dead or Alive: Dimensions. I never played a DoA, and didn’t really care to (I was a Virtua Fighter snob, for whatever reason). He always seemed excited to talk about it, but never played. He didn’t have anyone to play with. I decided the other day to bite the bullet and find a copy for myself. We can play his favorite fighting game, and maybe get past this snobbery of mine.
However, he didn’t exactly jump at the idea. We both get competitive, and he didn’t want a rift to form just because of this game. I didn’t want that either, of course, but I did want him to have his game the way it was meant to be played. What to do, what to do…
- Establish Some Rules
After the first couple of rounds of him unceremoniously kicking my butt, I was starting to get frustrated, and he could tell. He started pulling back, which made me even angrier. Talk to your significant other about how you want to treat each other. You may think it’s unacceptable to pull punches, but if your player 2 is new, they may expect at least a little learning curve before you put the boot to their poot. If you’re like me, though, you might be infuriated by delicate treatment. Talk to your SO about how they want to play. If you can’t communicate this much, you’re both in for a rough time.
- Define “Fun”
Say you’re dating a hardcore Smash Bros. player. They might even be playing in tournaments. You can assume they never want to play with items, and Final Destination is the only stage they’ve played on for the past month, but is that really a safe assumption? More communication time! Do they really only enjoy “For Glory!” mode, or would they actually like an eight player Pokeball stock battle on the Orbital Gate Assault stage? Different situations bring out different parts of a gamer, and it’s folly on your part to assume there’s only one facet to your lover’s habit.
- Don’t Forget to Actually Have Fun
As I silently steamed on the couch at losing to my boyfriend for a third time in a row to his cursed countering, I broke a personal cardinal rule: I threw a little hissy fit. The fear in my poor boyfriend’s eyes, that this greatly fun time together was about to end, killed me a little inside. I forgot that I was still learning, that he had many, many years on me, and the most important thing: to have fun. Not only that, but to not ruin his fun. One deep breath and some big girl pants later, and the steam was gone. I may have let myself get angry, but I really should have been proud of myself. I had beaten him several times, a feat some of our other friends can’t say. I reminded myself to enjoy the time together, laugh at how silly the physics can be, and to look up how to counter his spammed high kick.
We play games to have fun, to make ourselves feel good, and to enjoy playing with others. We hopefully bring our significant others along the journey of a game, be it a single player’s immersive story, or a multiplayer’s spirited competition, to enjoy each other, and have the companionship enhance the experience.
Be ready to recognize when a game’s not working. Getting into an argument over a video game is never worth it. It might pain you to realize the person you love hates the game you love. That’s okay! This game might not be the one, but there’s thousands of games out there to try together. You just have to find the one that’s a perfect fit. You can’t force someone to like what you like, but you can both seek something out together that might just become your new thing.
These rules might seem silly, obvious, or difficult. I agree, but communication is a big deal in relationships, even when it comes to gaming. Practice makes perfect, and personally, I like to think it even improves the experience for both of us. I love deciding to buy a new game, peeling the plastic off, and starting it together ever time we do it.