Wives of Gamers: Love In The Balance

This nonsensical rambling addresses the situation you might find yourself in if you are married to a gamer.  Just as I am sure being married to an individual who is obsessed with a sports team (I feel for every other female member of my family in this regard) has its ups and downs, so does being married to a person obsessed with video games.  Where sports followers have Super Bowl gatherings, jerseys, pennants, and cheerleaders, gamers have online matchmaking apps for playing with "randoms", customizable characters, banners, and party chats.  Instead of screaming at a ref's bad call though, they are screaming at another player or team that is cheating (or just flat out better players, shhh don’t tell them); not that either group on the receiving end can hear them.  The images on the screen are different, but the level of involvement and emotional response out of your husband is the same:  believing that any amount of badmouthing a TV will alter the game.  Walking in front of him, disrupting the action, asking a question, are all met with the same attitude: could be a dirty look, an exasperated muting, pulling out of their headphone cord, or most often you're just completely ignored. 

The biggest difference is how society sees sports fans versus gamers, which is where I start to feel defensive of my husband and his hobby.  It is probably safe to say that most people associate manliness with sports. So where does that leave gamers?  Gaming may not require a great deal of physical exertion, but it does require a great deal of hand eye coordination, concentration, and practice.  I am good at playing the same games, but I don't practice nearly as much.  I am not even close to the same level as my husband and his friends.  The dexterity involved with gaming translate into the real world, and I am honestly thankful for this having seen it firsthand.  My husband's program in college, and now his career, requires him to use his expertise in hand eye coordination to capture images and videos in cardiovascular ultrasound.  His abilities put him at the top of his class in both the lab practical sense and in his regular classes.  It is important to realize that even though a lot of gamers may start out as children, as time passes, the maturity of the games and the techniques needed to progress through them demand respect (or at least an understanding rather than judgment).  So while I might be the one who teaches our son how to properly throw a football, my husband will be the one to bond with him over Lego Batman, and I know that is just as significant.

 Obsession with a hobby is normal.  I know that people like to get into projects or fads; it would be weird not to like one thing over others.  For example, I like reading, writing, watching movies, and I spend probably an abnormal amount of time making sure my animals are happy; it's the same with sports or gaming.  My friend and coworker loves shopping. She loves it so much that she gave it up for lent more than a few years in a row.  Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to taking corrective action.  There are definitely levels of obsession too, starting with minor dealings to all out addiction... and gaming, for my husband at least, is an addiction. 

The upside to this situation?  This type of addiction is mostly harmless, as long as it's managed.  Why do I consider it an addiction?  Gaming, like alcohol, drugs, sex and exercise, releases those lovely chemicals called endorphins.  These are responsible for bliss, love, inhibition, and excitement.  Who wants to miss out on that, especially when it's not taking away from your life like "regular" addiction may?  Endorphins are very important for keeping stress levels down and feeling happy.  The extreme comes when people become addicted to that feeling and can't get enough of whatever is helping them get there.  Cue the fantasy game world music now (can't even decide which, there are so many); enter stage right: countless gaming systems, controllers in camo, red, black, white with shiny gold buttons, games, T-shirts, phone skins, magazine and YouTube subscriptions (yes, I do know who Mr. Fruit, Throthgar, and MoreConsole are thanks to my husband), soundtracks, headsets, headphones, gold versions, platinum, special and collector's editions, game 1, 2, 3, 4, 10-2, pre-sequel, you get the point.  Back to the endorphins; as a wife I do everything I can to make sure my husband is happy in life.  He is my best friend.  Whether it's eating dinner together at his favorite restaurant, watching superhero movies, wearing the T-shirt of his favorite game (of the moment), or talking about his missions throughout a manmade virus-infected city until we fall asleep, I'm game (heh). 

 Then why am I writing this as if gaming could be a bad thing?  I feel very conflicted.  The downside to this situation?  Sometimes I feel left out or neglected, which leads to feeling ignored and unwanted.  But the truth is, no matter how much he plays, he'd still rather spend the time with me.  I know this because he'll do anything for the opportunity to play a game together. He keeps wanting to buy another TV and game system in order to do so.  As much as I like to play, it's not my addiction to feed.  As a result, I manage my husband's addiction as best as possible with bed times on work nights and "you have to beat your 10 other games first" ultimatums, but that adorable smile and excitement from him often gets the better of me (don't judge me). 

 So, to all those wives who might feel like they take second place to gaming, please remember that he's not cheating when he's next to you with a controller in his hands. He's not out getting drunk or doing drugs; he's sharing his experiences with you and really wants to tell you about them.  If you take the time to watch and participate, listen and relate, you'll see that his happiness will reward you in all the ways he'll dedicate himself to your happiness outside of game menus and bromances, rage quits and boss levels.  The division in your feelings doesn't have to be what separates your feelings for each other.

 Rambling concluded.

-Sorcim's wife