Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Top tips for video game widows

As a fairly avid gamer (I wouldn't call myself 'hardcore', but that's another debate entirely), I have witnessed the annoyance and anguish that my video game interest can generate in my other half. I know it can be hard for my wife to comprehend when I ask her to wait until this essential boss-battle is over before she can receive any hugs and kisses. I have therefore decided to compile some key hints and tips for the 'wives and girlfriends' of video game fanatics, so that the fairer sex can learn to deal with their partner's obsession a little more effectively.

DISCLAIMER: I completely and totally accept that gaming is not a strictly masculine activity. Maybe you're a guy reading this who has a gamer girlfriend, and you're the one in need of some coping mechanisms. If so, MAN UP! However, whilst I don't wish to be sexist, my experience has been that it is more often the woman moaning at the man to turn the flipping console off and pay them some attention.

1. Know how his game 'saves'

A common excuse for a guy to continue gaming after you've asked him to stop is that he just needs to save the game and then he'll be done. Find out how the save function on his current game of choice works. Can he save at any moment or does he need to reach a save point? If the former is the truth, then what your partner might mean is, 'I could save now, but I want to make sure I've equipped all my best items and organised my inventory before I do'. Ask him to clarify this with you, so as to receive a more accurate finishing time. If he needs to reach a certain point to save his progress, ask for regular updates as to the location of this point in the game. You don't want to miss a prime opportunity to drag his attention away. Finally, be aware of whether or not a game as an 'auto-saving' function. If it does, then your partner has no excuse in regards to ending his gaming abruptly, because little or no progress will be lost.

2. Beware of multiplayer, online and off

Multiplayer gaming can be the biggest time-sink for your gamer-man, and can be very detrimental to chances of you and him spending any 'quality' time together. You have to bear in mind that in most cases, once an online multiplayer game has begun it cannot be be paused or ended prematurely without the player incurring losses or being ejected from the game. You may have to wait patiently for a match to finish, but be prepared to jump into action as soon as it does. Otherwise he may start another game, thus prolonging your wait for affection and attention. Offline multiplayer is also a danger for which you should be ready. If your boyfriend/husband is surrounded by his friends, he is much less likely to heed to your demands for an activity that you can also enjoy, valuing his couple of hours of FIFA 11 as a worthy prize for enduring the wrath you plan to pour upon him as soon as his mates are out of the door. However, there is an upside to offline multiplayer - the opportunity to create a bartering system. If you allow him an evening of Halo death-matches one weekend, then you can trade this in for an evening of manicures and Sex and the City another weekend. If he protests, then entice him with the prospect of allowing more gaming in the future, but only if the barter system is fair and its laws are upheld by both parties.

3. The pros and cons of 'seemingly endless' games

Some might say that it is best for your man to be playing short games that he will complete within a week or so, as this provides less chance for serious obsession to set in. I disagree with this thinking, as short games mean more money spent on new products, and the constant use of the excuse, 'but I've only just bought it, I've hardly played it yet'. However, there are negative aspects to having games that either take a long time to complete or can continue infinitely. You should be very concerned if your partner is a fan of role-playing games, as these titles can have an all-consuming effect. If you hear the names, 'Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft or Fallout', alarm bells should start to ring, as these games will become your man's new adulterous lover if you aren't careful. However, there are positives to lengthy games. You can always use an uncompleted game as a reason for why a new game shouldn't be purchased. A key phrase to remember in this situation is, 'well if [insert game title] is too hard for you to complete, I guess you should buy an easier one'. Not many gamers will be able to shrug off this barbed comment.

4. Encourage him to play what is most enjoyable for you

Unless you are some kind of tyrant hag who has her partner firmly wedged under her thumb (if you are... please don't kill me), there will be times when you have to relent and allow your man some gaming time. However, this doesn't have to be a completely arduous process. Try to find out which of your partner's games are most enjoyable to watch him play. A good tip is to stay well clear of Football Manager, which is about as fun as watching someone make a spreadsheet on Excel. Cinematic games with a good story-line and high quality voice acting are ones to search for, which will hopefully alleviate your boredom a little bit. Some examples that have worked well in my experience are Uncharted 2 on the Playstation 3, and also Resident Evil 4 on the Wii. These games are exciting to watch, and will provide you with a marginally better backseat experience during your boyfriend/husband's gaming time.

Hopefully these tips will aid you in making life bearable with your video game-obsessed partner. Let me know if you have any tips of your own, or what your experiences are of putting these pieces of advice into action.

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