January 12, 2009 4:00 PM | Mister Raroo
[Mister Raroo contemplates what life is like when you're in love with a non-gamer. Speaking from experience, he provides inside tips on how to have a happy and healthy relationship without sacrificing playing video games. This may be the first GameSetWatch article to visually depict carnal relations, too!]
Eat, Breathe, Game
You’ve met the girl of your dreams. You seem to have so much in common. Everything is going swimmingly. And then it happens: You find out the object of your affection doesn’t have any interest in video games. Is this relationship doomed? Stay calm. It’ll be fine!
Two people can be very much in love without sharing the exact same set of interests. The problem for many serious gamers, however, is that they don’t just play video games, but their lives are often consumed by them. Even when they’re not playing games, they’re talking about them, reading about them, writing about them, or thinking about them.
At least, that’s how it is for me, and I’m sure it’s that way for plenty others, too. Video games are more than just a casual hobby for me. I can’t remember a day in which video games didn’t factor in one way or another. While some people don’t go a day without checking in on the stock market or tackling a crossword puzzle, I don’t pass a day without somehow doing something game-related.
Of course, that’s not to say video games are my top priority in life. I take pride in being the best friend and husband I can for Missus Raroo. Also, ever since I became a father almost two years ago, parenting has been more important than gaming. Thus, I’m very family-oriented, and I often tell Missus Raroo that my two main goals in life are to be both the best father and best husband I can be.
But all the same, I’m still enthralled by video games and they are a part of my being. I loved video games when I first met Missus Raroo, I loved video games when I fell head over heels for her, I loved video games when we got married, and I loved video games when our son Kaz came into the world. That’s just the way it is, but thankfully it’s okay because my affection for games has not outweighed my affection for the things in life that are more important.
Trouble in Paradise?
You might be thinking to yourself, “What the heck is Mister Raroo going on about here? His wife is a gamer!” Not so! In fact, before meeting me, my wife’s only experience with video games was casually playing the Nintendo Entertainment System as a young girl. She and her family would visit her Grandma every Sunday, and her cousin Blair usually brought along his NES. Every now and then Missus Raroo would partake in a game of Super Mario Bros. or Contra, but for the most part it was her brother and Blair that spent the bulk of their Sundays gaming.
It wasn’t until she met me years later that Missus Raroo was reintroduced to video games, and to her credit she took an active interest in the hobby I was so passionate about. She purchased games for herself and tried playing many of the titles I suggested. We even had some memorable bonding experiences with games, enjoying the likes of Phantasy Star Online and The Adventures of Cookie and Cream together. Since then, though, the amount of time she put into games dropped significantly, and these days she rarely plays video games. In effect, my wife is not a gamer, at least not in the same way I am.
Does my ravenous hunger for video games negatively affect our relationship? Thankfully, the answer is no. Through the years I’ve learned to respect that Missus Raroo isn’t a gamer and I never try to force my love for games upon her. She’ll still play the occasional game from time to time, as was the case earlier this year when she tore through Professor Layton and the Curious Village in a couple afternoons. But for the most part, I’m the only actual gamer in our relationship.
Still, Missus Raroo is very supportive of my hobby. For instance, she buys me games as gifts for Christmas and my birthday, asks questions about whatever games I happen to be wrapped up with at any given moment, assists with the editing my articles and their illustrations, and even occasionally takes the time to pen an article or two herself. In short, Missus Raroo is the best pal a gamer could wish for.
This wouldn’t be the case, however, if I wasn’t thoughtful in how I incorporated video games into my life. While no two relationships are the same, hopefully some of the ways I’ve learned to balance video games with the other loves of my life will help other gamers who are in the same boat as me. Just because one’s significant other doesn’t share a passion for video games, it’s still very possible for the relationship to be strong and healthy.
And, before I go any further, let me quickly point out that while I’m writing this from the perspective of a man whose wife doesn’t play video games, the core ideas of this article can be applied to just about any relationship. For instance, I hope this article is just as meaningful for a lady who is having trouble convincing her boyfriend to accept her love for video games. The entirety of gamers is a diverse community coming from every imaginable background, but as with any hobby, there are plenty of people who simply aren’t interested in it, and sometimes we fall in love with such individuals.
Realize That She Isn’t You!
Obviously, your significant other isn’t you. That’s not difficult to understand. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll still make the mistake of assuming that if you admire something, it must possess the potential for universal appeal. Of course, this is not always the case. We all have different tastes and preferences, and what I consider to be worthy of my attention may not appeal to other people.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped me from trying to push certain games upon Missus Raroo, urging her to try them because I consider them to be so fantastic. In retrospect, I’m almost always wrong. Luckily for me, Missus Raroo will sometimes humor me and watch as I demonstrate to her why I think a game like Okami or Burnout Paradise is brilliant, and she’ll usually even offer her own opinions. But rarely will the games I consider to be impeccable necessarily spark an interest in her to play them.
I’ve also made the mistake of buying games for Missus Raroo, assuming that she’ll be floored by their quality. While sometimes she actually enjoys the games I buy her, as with the case with Dragon Quest VIII and Picross DS, most of the time it is money poorly spent. At no time did Missus Raroo ask for Mini Moni Shakkato Tambourine, for example, and yet that was a gift she opened one Christmas morning. I’ve wisened up in recent years and rarely buy games for Missus Raroo, but there are times I still have to remind myself that she’d rather receive a gift that suits her tastes, not mine.
Respect Her Interests
That leads me to my next point: what makes your interests any better than hers? Missus Raroo’s latest favorite hobbies have been knitting and crocheting, but at no point has she ever tried to force me to try to knit a sweater or crochet a blanket. Why, then, do I feel the need to constantly tell her about the latest gaming news or show her a particularly interesting part of a game I’m playing?
Missus Raroo shows a great deal of respect for my interests, and it’s only fair that I reciprocate. However, I must admit that I’m sometimes guilty of not only paying little attention to whatever has captured her fancy, but making the incorrect assumption that my hobbies are somehow more important or superior to hers.
I’ve tried to make it a point, then, to take more notice of the things that Missus Raroo enjoys doing. In doing so, I’ve come to appreciate her hobbies more and can understand why she finds them to be so fascinating. I’m not necessarily ready to pick up knitting needles and get to work on a winter cap by any stretch of the imagination, but taking note of Missus Raroo’s hobbies is a fun way to be allowed into that part of her life, if only a little bit. I assume that’s why she tolerates my incessant need to pull her into my gaming world, too.
Don’t Put Video Games Ahead of Obligations
I think most gamers have made the mistake of playing video games when they should’ve been doing something more important. It’s not uncommon for students to earn poor grades or employees to be fired from their jobs because they didn’t know when to cut themselves off from their game playing. Heck, even I’ve called in “sick” on the release date of a few games I’ve been particularly excited about. Even though some obligations in life hardly hold a candle to the appeal of video games, it’s not healthy to put games ahead of important duties. And, in the case of interpersonal relationships, video games can certainly be detrimental.
I sometimes wonder how many relationships have been ruined because gamers couldn’t put down their controllers long enough to pay attention to their significant others. In fact, this phenomenon has become so bad that many women go so far as to refer to themselves as “widows,” with their husbands choosing games over them. As enthusiastic as I am about playing video games, I’ve learned that not only are games less important than some of the other obligations in my life, they are usually not as fulfilling, either.
Now, of course I’d rather play video games than clean the kitty litter box or fold laundry, but playing games pales when held up to spending time with my family. Being an involved party in any type of relationship, be it as a spouse, father, or friend, is certainly an obligation, but thankfully it’s the good type of obligation that is rewarding and worthwhile. I love being married and having a son, and in any scenario I’d rather spend time with Missus Raroo and Kaz than play even my most beloved video games.
Unfortunately, there are still rare instances where I zone out while playing a game and neglect my familial obligations. Thankfully, Missus Raroo is not above telling me when I’m being guilty of such behavior, and I always feel appropriately guilty afterward. However, there exist certain people who are just not as tuned into the fact that they are choosing to play games over spending time with their loved ones, and this can certainly cause problems in their relationships. It can be difficult to learn to budget one’s time to fulfill family obligations and still manage to squeeze in video game playing, but as I can personally attest to, the results are certainly worth the effort.
Don’t Be Like “Fathouse”
Most hobbyists love to talk shop, and gamers are no exception to this rule. In fact, it can sometimes seem like video games are just about the only subject ever to exit the mouths of gamers. Even when gamers aren’t talking about games, you can often catch them posting about games online at various forums and message boards. We gamers sure have a lot to say about our hobby.
However, as much as we love to go on and on about video games, I’m positive it must be grating to the ears of any our non-gaming significant others. Missus Raroo doesn’t babble to me about whatever new recipes she’s been trying out in the kitchen, and yet I too often will unleash a stream of unsolicited gibberish about video games in her direction. Thankfully, I’ve learned to take note when Missus Raroo begins to tune me out (which usually happens very quickly) and cut myself off. It’s at that point that I remind myself about “Fathouse.”
“Fathouse” was the unfortunate nickname bestowed upon a very overweight young man named Gary who went to my high school. Gary, being picked on from an early age because of his immense size, found refuge in the world of books, and he spent his days alone and reading. Being cut off from other kids throughout his life meant he had poor social skills, and he usually drove away any potential friends by being overbearing and talking far too much about the plots of whatever books he’d been reading.
I felt sorry for Gary, however, and would say hello to him and engage in small talk. Little did I know that Gary would take this to mean he and I were the best of friends, and before long he’d wait by my locker, anxious to go into excruciating detail about his books. Gary never engaged in an actual two-way conversation, but instead kept talking and talking, not letting me get in a single word. I guess he didn’t want to give me a chance to escape, and in fact I was late to class a couple times because he never let up his orations.
I didn’t have the heart or courage to let Gary know I didn’t care about what he was so excited to tell me, so I took the cowardly route and just began avoiding him. I changed the paths I walked to get to my classes and began carrying all my books in my backpack so I didn’t have to stop by my locker. Eventually Gary gave up and I was free from his reign of book discussion terror, even if it made me feel like a heel. Still, perhaps if Gary would have realized I didn’t enjoy hearing him prattle on about his books and instead found some common ground for us to talk about we could’ve been friends!
The lesson here is simple: Don’t be like “Fathouse!” Nobody likes hearing about topics that don’t interest them. Even though I may sometimes afflict poor Missus Raroo with too much conversation about games, I’ve taught myself to find other outlets for my thoughts and ideas. The article you’re reading now, for instance, is one such way for me to talk about video games without driving Missus Raroo crazy!
Introduce Her to Games on Her Terms
Sometimes you may be lucky enough to have fallen for a girl that seems to have a genuine interest in video games. However, don’t jump to the conclusion that she may end up being as into games as you are. Sure, she might be interested in taking a trip to Game Town, but don’t expect her to immediately decide to live there!
With Missus Raroo, I initially made the wrong assumption. When we were first dating, Missus Raroo was curious about my love for video games and exploring them on her own was a way for her to get to know me a little better. She wholly accepted the fact that I was a gamer, and even took an interest in games enough to play through the likes of Shenmue and Chrono Trigger, but at no point did she put up false pretenses and pretend she was as into games as I was.
However, like I stated before, I made mistakes like buying her video games as gifts in place of items she probably would’ve liked more. I’ve also acted like “Fathouse” on far too many occasions and talked too much about games instead of topics we’re both interested in. These types of behaviors would test the patience of any individual, and though I’ve gotten better in recent years, I’m lucky my blunders didn’t drive her away!
Nevertheless, I do feel it’s very possible for anyone to be introduced to the joys of video games, only it has to be done on their terms. I can’t think of a time in which a wider array of games has existed, and there truly is something for everybody. Naturally, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to want to play video games, but for those curious enough to explore the medium, surely there exists a game or genre that would appeal to their tastes.
If you find yourself lucky enough that your special someone becomes interested in games, you can help by acting as a gentle guide. Don’t force anything upon them, but instead let them investigate the world of video games at their own pace and to their own liking. Nobody likes a know-it-all! And, if it should turn out they decide games aren’t right for them, don’t be discouraged or angry. The fact that they took the time to learn more about your hobby is actually pretty special, and as long as you’re respectful of their opinions and viewpoints, chances are they will be more respectful of yours, too.
It’s Okay to be a Gamer!
While my opinion on the matter is unquestionably biased, I believe video games to be a wonderful hobby. As with most other forms of popular entertainment, games provide users with a highly varied and interesting range of experiences to choose from. But, like any hobby, video games are not for everyone. As gamers, we need to realize that it’s more than possible that the people we fall in love with won’t appreciate games in the same ways we do.
And, in some ways, I’m glad Missus Raroo isn’t a gamer as it helps me keep things in perspective. It can be all too easy to become consumed with one’s hobbies, to the point that they overtake one’s thoughts and it can be hard to concentrate on anything else. That is not good! Nobody should get so enraptured by their hobby that they can’t concentrate on making love to their spouse, for example! Don’t be that guy!
In other words, it’s good to take a break from one’s hobbies and experience other aspects of life. For some gamers, that’s no problem, but for others, it can be tough to step back and look at the bigger picture. Gaming might be a daily part of my life, but it does not represent the entirety of me. There are other things I love even more, even if every now and then I need a gentle nudge to remind me of this fact.
Be happy to be a gamer, and don’t be upset if it just so happens that your significant other isn’t. I love the life I have with Missus Raroo and I wouldn’t change anything. Because I don’t put games ahead of more important obligations, she’s supportive of my gaming hobby and sometimes will dabble in games herself from time to time. Being in a loving relationship is better than anything else, even if your girl doesn’t know Mega Man from Sonic the Hedgehog.
[Mister Raroo is a happy husband, proud father, full-time public library employee, and active gamer. He currently lives in El Cajon, CA with his family and many pets. You may reach Mister Raroo at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Categories: Column: Game Time With Mr Raroo