How to talk to your video gaming significant other

Live In- Nerd Rage

I typed in "nerd rage" and this is what Zemanta found.... Image via Wikipedia

It is 2010, and techno-phobes are crying over our youth’s inability to communicate without a machine and somehow we’ve lost the subtle art of conversation.  Social media is more popular than ever, and even the video game industry (from Xbox Live to Steam) has gotten into the online community-building business.

The exact percentage of the US population that plays video games is unclear, but lies between 68%  (the Critical Gaming Project), and 87%  males/ 80%  females (2009 chart from gameindustry.com). The percentage of the population that plays video games online ( chance for addiction increases) hovers around 58% for males, and 42% for females.

According to some Australian researchers, 1 out of 10 gamers is addicted, but I have a hunch that percentage might be higher. My hunch is based off of Cracked.com’s most excellent piece “5 creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get you Addicted“. For those about to scoff at the idea of being addicted to something that “isn’t even real”, David Wong counters with:

Your brain treats items and goods in the video game world as if they are real. Because they are.

If it takes time, effort and skill to obtain an item, that item has value, whether it’s made of diamonds, binary code or beef jerky.

After all, people pay thousands of dollars for diamonds, even though diamonds do nothing but look pretty. A video game suit of armor looks pretty and protects you from video game orcs. In both cases you’re paying for an idea.

If you or your significant other is a gamer, chances are, there is some form of neglect going on in your relationship.

Before I address the right ways to go about approaching  your significant other when you feel they’ve been playing video games for too long, I would first like to address the wrong ways. And while this “How-To” might seem obvious to some, it apparently isn’t when you consider  the magnitude of people using the wrong methods to deal with their video gaming significant others.

THE WRONG WAY TO GET YOUR GAMER’S ATTENTION

1) Destroying your significant others gaming property, from deleting characters to destroying consoles

The internet is littered with  videos of gaming equipment being destroyed by significant others. Despite many internet users proclaiming these videos as fake, the destruction of property in each video is too real (and also could be deemed illegal in some cases). There is a reason these videos are popular – these videos appeal to both the gamer who fears their significant other will do this to their machines, and to the significant other who sympathizes with the person doing the smashing.

Deleting Characters

The most recent video to make the rounds of the internet is “Girl deletes WoW Characters, Dude destroys Computer

[youtubevid id=”dGBOGamm1x4″]

The video begins like any vengeful significant other video, with the girlfriend complaining that her boyfriend ignores her and plays WoW all the time. The girlfriend then deletes the boyfriends very high level characters- which can take any where from days to months to reach depending on play style. At one point, the girlfriend eerily tells the camera which character is his favorite while she deletes it. Even if you haven’t seen your significant other for days, attempting to destroy something they spend many hours on is never the right move. Like the above Cracked.com quote implies, even if you yourself can’t see the value in something doesn’t mean there is none.

As for deleting a WoW character, it is a futile gesture as all characters can be restored after deletion just by contacting Blizzard.  By deleting the character, you show that you do not value your significant other’s time or interests, and that insult is never a good place to start from when you are trying to explain how you feel neglected.

Destroying Consoles

nikitabanana88 has only posted 2 videos to her Break account. One of nikitabanana88 uploads is the infamous “Hot Psycho Chick Destroys Boyfriends Xbox” video:

[youtubevid id=”JKAVEye4kfE”]

The above video on Break.com is approaching 2 million views, not counting the multiple duplications on youtube.com. After Nikki’s Xbox video, NikkiandJohn.com was born (her bf hosts all of their pranking videos under his name), and you could say  Nikki is no longer being neglected. Her boyfriend now throws flour on her or  pranks her in other mean-spirited ways every week or so.

I am no relationship counselor, but it seems to me that if you show such lack of respect towards your significant other or their things, you don’t actually respect your significant other, and therefore, cannot ask for any respect in return.

The original uploaded video by Nikki was titled “Crazy Hot Chick smashes Boyfriends Xbox”, but the title was changed (presumably by John as it was reposted on his account) to “Hot Psycho Chick Destroys Boyfriends Xbox”.  The word “Crazy” can imply kooky, like “oh, you so crazy”, but the word “Psycho” has some extremely negative connotations (Norman Bates, any one?).  Happy couple indeed…

Another popular video worth mentioning is “Hot Girl Tells Boyfriend Game Over“. The clip begins with  Tessa explaining how her boyfriend doesn’t spend any time with her. Tessa then busts  in on her boyfriend’s Call of Duty party and attempts to smash his TV with a baseball bat.  The video is typical of the vengeful significant other genre, and it seems both the guy holding the camera and the girlfriend don’t think highly of “nerd culture” (I base this off the dude making fun of the light saber. Oh no you didn’t, crappy camera man!).

The last video in the smashing category that I will touch on  is “Hot Asian Girl Breaks PS3 with a hammer”:

[youtubevid id=”NvX8GHJLQIU”]

At the very end of the video, the “Hot Asian Girl” screams out what is really bothering her- her boyfriend is playing video games until 3am instead of getting a job and contributing to their collective income.  Whether or not this video is fake, the male gamer still exhibits typical gamer-addicted symptoms.

Instead of responding to his girlfriend’s question, he asks for a drink.  Asking for a drink is a resonable request, right? His request for a drink tells me he’s too absorbed in his game to get his own drink, and he’s probably been thirsty for a really long time. His thirst is stronger than his desire to address his angry girlfriend, but the engaging game has prevented him from getting a drink, or going to bed.  This guy  probably has to pee too, but has been holding it in because he is so absorbed in the game.

The anger displayed by these significant others  is misplaced- but shows they feel that objects are more important to their gamer than they are.

2)Yelling at your significant other while s/he is gaming

Even if the video game isn’t real, it illicits a very real physical response, in the form of emotions. Anger, happiness, satisfaction, frustration, … are all very real emotions and are felt by gamers while they play their video games. Wong did not mention this in his “addiction” article, and while my original attempt at a biochemistry degree does not make me an expert, I feel safe making the claim that video games  trigger adrenalin and endorphins.

If someone was spending an exceptionally large amount of time on FPS (first person shooters), couldn’t they become junkies just through their body chemistry? Why would you ever think it was a good idea to take a hostile action, like yelling,  at someone made tense by video games? Why would you expect a calm reaction, biochemistry aside, when you yourself are yelling? The most natural response to hostility, is…. (drum roll)… more hostility!

I personally don’t play very realistic FPS because I get very absorbed in my video games (zombies and monsters are fine because they are no longer human). I focus, hard. Call me a pansy, but I get very stressed out by realistic FPS games. I joke that I am addicted to the cartoony Team Fortress 2 (I spend any where from 30 minutes to 3 hours playing TF2 a night), and when I’ve been playing for a long time, I am fully integrated into the game- I forget about the world around me.  Even the sound of a telephone ringing is irritating, but having someone yell at me? I want to yell right back.

Take this example of a gamer who was so focused on his game, he killed a kitten when it accidentally disconnected his controller.  Another extreme example of nerd rage is the WoW player that strangled his mother after she yelled at him repeatedly.  (These two instances are not indicative of violent video games causing violence, as this recent study proves the opposite)

I am not suggesting your significant other will punch you should you yell at them repeatedly, but keep in mind, your beloved gamer is already in a hyped up state so don’t be surprised if they meet your aggression with aggression of their own.

Now, I don’t know if the chick in this next video is addicted to video games, but she does exhibit problems separating the virtual world with the physical. Even though she has disconnected from the game, she is still entrapped in the virtual reality- it is still so important to her that she vents her real anger on a physically real object.

[youtubevid id=”0ydXbJrQ4jc”]

Even if she is not an avid gamer (although she shit talks like a mo-fo), she obviously needs what I like to call “cool down time”.  Any gamer knows what I am talking about- if you’ve been playing for a couple of hours and then suddenly quit, you are spacey, and need some time adjusting to communicating in this “real life” reality. A recent study revealed that gamers have reaction times similar to fighter pilots, so give your gamer’s brain some time to adjust gears.

THE RIGHT WAY TO GET YOUR GAMER’S ATTENTION

1) Observe your gamer’s gameplay and choose the time you ask for attention carefully

Disturbing a gamer in the right way while they are fully absorbed is not as difficult as it sounds.   More than likely, your gamer is playing online, and playing with other people. Sure, your gamer can turn off their machine at any time, but if they were to do so, they might anger or disappoint their online friends (who are relying on your gamer in order to complete a task/quest/mission),  or if they haven’t saved recently, all the time they’ve just spent has been for naught. Everything they have been trying to accomplish has just been wasted.  Wait until the mission has been completed, or while they are re-spawning, to make your request for attention.  Make sure you stand off to the side, in your gamer’s peripheral vision, not directly behind your gamer.

Standing directly behind your gamer will not get you noticed, especially if the volume on their headset is high. If you are respectful, chances are, your gamer will notice you before you make your request. Say something like ” Can we go (watch a movie/out for dinner/take a shower together/ insert whatever activity you want to do) when you are done with your mission/task/quest?”

Sometimes it is very difficult to find a good team to play on, and having to abruptly quit once you’ve finally gotten on one can be heartbreaking. Case in point, this little boy who cries when he is made to turn off his console, after just joining a joint session. Try to be understanding of your gamer’s commitment to others.

2)Once you’ve figured out a good moment to interject,  be nice! Crack a joke! Do something sexy!

If your gamer has been playing for a while, bring them a glass of water, or a tasty beverage . Your gamer probably needs it. This nice action will illicit a warm response, and puts you in a positive light for later, when you explain how you feel neglected.

Trying to crack a joke, or making your gamer smile is another great way of getting your gamer’s attention quickly. Making your gamer laugh automatically relaxes them, and puts you in a good position to make your request. I am particularly fond of  this next video, because it reminds me of my  boyfriend (except, I am the “addicted” gamer in the scenario).

[youtubevid id=”bNTV2rZql00″]

Put on a hot outfit, or do something sexy, like give your gamer a massage. Generally, when people are in a tense state, firm strong physical contact is better then tickling or poking.  Start taking off your clothes in front of your gamer (but don’t be a tease!).

3) Once you’ve gotten your gamer away from his/her game, calmly explain your issues with their behavior

Remember, NO YELLING, don’t be mean, and don’t demand changes right away (wait until your gamer apologizes for neglecting you, and then ASK nicely for changes).  Keep your voice calm, and talk about how their gaming behavior effects you personally. Your gamer can deny playing for too long, or being addicted, but they cannot deny how you feel. “I feel like you are neglecting me”/ “I feel like we don’t spend enough time together”/ “I am jealous of your online friends”/ “I feel like you care more about your games than you do me” are all great places to start.

Like this TED Talk “Gaming can make a better world” by Jane McGonigal explains, gamers feel like they are worth more in video games than in real life. Take the time to listen to your gamer, to find out why they have the compulsion to flee reality. Are they unhappy with their job/life/living situation/career choice? Helping them solve their problems in the real world, or just listening to them talk about their real life problems, puts you in a better position to make your “neglected” point.

4) Be willing to compromise; that means playing video games too

If you are not a gamer yourself, take the time to become one, and find games you like. Your gaming significant other has made gaming an essential part of their life, so you should make the effort to find out why. Find out why this is a favorite pastime of theirs.  If you do not like the games they play after a hearty try,  find video games you two both like to  play together. The video games you play together don’t necessary have to be co-op or team based either; My boyfriend and I  currently play Tropico 3 together, and we compare our islands economies and exchange advice.

This is also a great moment to discuss how much time spent playing video games is too much, and be willing to compromise. If your significant other thinks 3 hours of solitary entertainment is needed per night, asking to whittle it down to  2 hours is a reasonable request.

Conclusion:

If you’ve tried the above methods  and you are still being ignored, it is time to face the hard facts. If your gamer is spending more time playing video games alone than spending time with you, your gamer is avoiding you. Take a load off your gamer’s shoulders and break up with them; they clearly don’t have the balls to do it themselves.  Life’s too short to be spent worrying about someone who clearly doesn’t worry about you, or even care about your existence.

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3 Comments on “How to talk to your video gaming significant other”

  1. Todd Essig says:

    While “addiction” is not my favorite metaphor for the entrapment you describe, you’ve written one my all-time favorite T/S posts. I especially like your advice: enter your partner’s world, offer a livable compromise, and then move it if no change is forthcoming.

  2. […] wrote in my “How to Talk to your Gaming Significant Other“, if someone is already in a hyped up aggressive state (Religion regarding Atheism), you […]


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