Being Married to a Gamer Daddy
By Josh Vazquez
The toughest year for video games and I was 2007. That was the year I sold my Xbox 360 and the majority of my game collection. I’d just celebrated my 22nd birthday and had decided that being a gamer was juvenile and if I were to “grow up” I’d have to leave video games behind. It never felt right to hang up my game controllers and find a new passion. I was determined to succeed and the only solution to my supposed “problem” was to completely emancipate and devoid myself from anything pixelated. That year I convinced myself that I needed a more mature hobby if I were to become a proper adult.
The next year I met my wife.
When explaining why she gifted me an Xbox she described the look in my eyes when I talked about games. The intense passion behind every word uttered during a discussion about games, she said, was both exciting to watch and sad to take in. She knew I had a deep love for the hobby I had thrown away and she surmised that a show of acceptance and understanding was not only necessary but also crucial to the successful continuation of our relationship.
Fast-forward seven years…I’m still playing them and she’s still buying them.
It is important to understand that being the partner of a gamer is common. The suppression of one's passion to “grow up” or “fit in” happens because of social norms and the will to be accepted and taken seriously. Think of a time when you brought up the topic of video games at a family function, board meeting, or on a date. Pretty isolating wasn’t it?
To better understand the thought process of the partner of a gamer I determined it was best to just ask:
How has being a spouse of an avid gamer affected your relationship through the years?
I think being the spouse of an avid gamer is no different from being the spouse of a man or woman that loves sports or some other hobby. Spouses in unique relationships know that on game nights all bets are off. Their husbands or wives will be screaming at the TV as if the characters on screen can actually hear them. For me, I know once the console is on my husband will be screaming too but in his case screaming at other gamers. There have been nights that I have come home from work with the hopes of spendingsome time with him. Only to be greeted by the sickly glow from the television, murmured cussing and the rapid pressing of buttons. Those nights I have two options; either I leave the man alone and find something else to do, or find a way to get his attention by distracting him from the game. He usually gets the point if I want him off the video game chair. As the years have gone by gaming has affected our relationship less and less. Earlier in the relationship it would upset me when he would spend his entire day off from work gaming and would only come off to use the restroom. But as the years passed he has learned to schedule his gaming at smarter times throughout the week, which I feel is a good balance.
Do you see any positive or negative aspects of encouraging gaming?
Encouraging gaming can come with both positive and negative aspects. I admit, I do encourage my husbands gaming. I bought him the console that got him back into gaming when he tried to stop his gaming habits. It's been 8 years and I continue to get him games I know he is looking forward too. A negative aspect I can think of is my husband forgetting to do something because he is playing such as taking out the trash or getting some other chore done. I do believe the positives outweigh the negatives,though. In our household, gaming represents stress relief and excitement. He uses it to get away from any stress he may be experiencing all the while having fun, mostly…when he is winning.
How do you feel about introducing your children to video games? If so when do you think it is best to start?
I think video games can be positive for children. I personally like to introduce video games to kids early, as it is fun way get kids to learn motor skills, problem-solving and math. Also, certain games can be used to help kids learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and so on. I believe that kids should only play games that are appropriate for their age. A 10-year-old should not play games with a mature or adults only rating. My daughter is 2 and she already shows interest in gaming just like her father. She has already tried to emulate my husband by sitting in his gaming chair with the headset on while her little fingers push the buttons on the controller.
Have you ever tried to become a gamer? Why is it or why is it not for you?
When I was growing up I can remember playing Super Nintendo games such as Super Mario World and Donkey Kong but that's as far as I got. I tried a few times to play first person shooters such as Halo but my fingers just do not work well with the controller. It's just not for me. I can't manage to control the on-screen player at all. I take certain joy in beating my husband at puzzle games such as Tetris and Peggle 2. Aside from that I'll leave the gaming to the gamers and poke fun at my husband every time he loses.
Do you watch your spouse game?
I do watch my husband game sometimes. It can be pretty funny at times especially when he plays multiplayer games where he has to depend on his team to win. I just like to see him happy and when he is gaming he is always happy or plain old frustrated with a difficult game, which is also funny. Other times I watch and become involved with the stories of games such as BioShock Infinite. No spoilers but the end of that game threw me for a loop much in the same way a movie would.
Is it necessary to find a balance between video games, family, and personal time? How is it regulated?
I think it is very important to find a balance between video games, family and personal time. I know for my husband having time for all these aspects is very important. A balance allows for a gamer enjoy all aspects of his or her life equally. Family life comes first naturally, but gaming time and personal time allow for a happier lifestyle overall.
Do you think your relationship could be better or worse without the inclusion of video games as a hobby?
I believe that our relationship would be worse without the inclusion of video games as a hobby. Video games represent a way for my husband to relax and escape. If he did not have video games to turn too when he is a little stressed or bored we would drive each other crazy. It is like a form of release. It is far better to see him in front of a television engrossed in a video game at home or the plethora of alternatives.
Do you think your spouse will continue to game in his forties and fifties and beyond?
I think my husband will continue to game as long as his fingers allow him too. I can picture an 80-year-old man sitting in front of a TV playing games and yelling at the TV or at his friends online. I can imagine him playing or talking about video games back in the old days to his grandchildren while they listen in awe as they probably won’t have to use controllers by then.
What advice do you have for spouses of gamers who may be struggling with determining if video games are an acceptable hobby as an adult?
One piece of advice I would give to spouses of gamers who may be struggling with accepting gaming, as a hobby would be just let them do what makes them happy. As long as they are working to provide for the household and getting their responsibilities taken care of, don't let it get to you. Let them game and you can take that time to do something that makes you happy whatever it may be. And if once in a while you want them to stop playing and spend time with you make it known. Try to embrace them for their interest and assist them balance work, family, and video games so that the relationship will never suffer.