This essay was originally posted on JohnnyBGamer. It has been re-posted, with additions, by the permission of the author.
I recently wrote an essay entitled “Should Men Put Videogames Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives/Girlfriends?”. Many readers immediately answered the title question in their heads and moved on; others chose to engage the essay and actually read it. (Kudos! I really appreciate it.) For myself, the piece scratched the surface of a much larger issue: how do video games impact relationships? I decided to post a quick survey to delve into the female perspective on the issue. Below are the responses I received:
Q: What’s one thing that you wish others knew about dating a gamer?
A1: In college, dating a gamer was fun. I was able to play video games with my husband and his friends, which allowed me the chance to spend lots of time with him.
A2: My husband and I started dating at 17. He regularly gamed in his free time and wrote soundtrack reviews, etc. I knew he was really “into games,” but I didn’t think it would continue after college. After all, all the male role models in my life didn’t game so it just wasn’t part of adult life in my mind. Lo’ and behold, times changed- and they continue to- and now many 20 and 30+ people turn to games as their number one hobby. If you find yourself dating an avid gamer, consider that their hobby might not go away with age. It’s something they really enjoy. Take the time to reflect on that, your expectations of hobbies, and talk about it with your partner.
A3: The one thing I wish others knew about dating a gamer is that you can have fun! Maybe picking up a controller and getting into his world might be fun for you and you just may learn a lot about that guy. He may even willingly go shopping with you or commit to doing something you really like….you just never know! I dated a gamer for 4 years, and He shopped for hours with me, and you don’t know how long and intensely I can shop!
Q: What’s one thing that you wish others knew about marrying a gamer?
A1: Set up gaming boundaries early on in your marriage. Without good gaming boundaries, a wife might have a lot of unspoken expectations. As those expectations go unmet, bitterness and resentment can seep into a marriage.
A2: That marrying a gamer will require solid communication. There is no cookie-cutter guideline of what will work for each couple. You have to have enough maturity to talk about hobbies and their role in your life together, and what a good, healthy balance is.
A3: We have been happily married for 33 years in June! Shortly after we had our sons, we bought our first console. After 28 years, we have owned and played and watched pretty much all of the video games. Sorry, but I just I cannot put into words the fun and Godly lessons they brought about! The best part is we were always all involved in the adventure together from beginning to end, talking how we would win even when we were not even playing. It was a highly interactive household. We did stuff. We were using our minds to achieve something. We never wanted our kids to sit around and watch sports for endless hours. That’s Dad being selfish. Do you really think a two year old wants to sit for hours many days of the week and watch his gender dress up and do something with a ball? That is not healthy in so many ways! Even so, my kids were active: they achieved three Black belts each, and won medals competing during their teen years.
I know many women who hate on gaming, especially for their kids. All I can say is that they are being very judgmental to close their minds on video games altogether. God says that all things can be used, and that’s no different here.
Q: What’s one thing you would have done differently if you knew what it would be like married to a gamer?
A1: I wish I would have taken an interest in gaming sooner. It took a while for me to learn to take an interest in my husband’s hobbies. As soon as I told my husband that I wanted to play video games too, he began to find games that we could play together. I love his willingness to include me and let this be another way that we can spend time together on a regular basis!!
A2: Along with solid communication, respect is key. Early in my marriage to a gamer, I didn’t know how to properly say I was being hurt by the time my husband spent playing games. And that lack of communication turned into snide comments and disrespect. It still creeps up every now and then, but I have learned I need to take responsibility for what I can control- and that is expressing my observations and feelings in a collected way. Mutual respect is a necessity.
A3: Nothing, really!
BONUS: What would you like your boyfriend/husband to know about his videogame hobby?
A1: Thank you for your willingness to include me in your world of gaming!! I appreciate your willingness to cut back on the amount of gaming you do, especially as our family has grown and our time is short. I can’t wait until you can take the girls to play video games, because it will be something fun we can do as a family. I love you!!
A2: Honestly, that I think we need to talk more about it. And from both sides. I often feel like a nag when I bring it up; ideally, I’d like to see us both talk more frequently and openly about gaming and whether or not we’re still balanced etc.
A3: I think I said all I needed to say above. Keep on gaming (and crafting stuff in World of WarCraft continuously! I need new stuff!).
Thank you ladies for your thoughtful replies.