Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Gamer's "Widow"

The Gamer's "Widow"
That's right Gamer's Girls, there's a whole other type of fem dating gamers. They are called Gamer's "Widow." No it's not a cool title with an awesome, bad ass spider reference. Unfortunately, it's not a title girls hope to have, yet there are a lot of Gamer's Widows (GW) out there. A GW is a product of a broken relationship brought on, in one way or another, by a game. Gamer's Girls (GG) know all to well how there relationship sometimes teeters and are at risk of becoming a GW. The overwhelming hours on a game can cause strain in any relationship, no matter how strong. A successful relationship with a gamer takes balance, respect, and understanding by both parties involved. Sometimes however, even the best GG can't break the spell it has on some gamers. And I'm not just talking about the infamous widower, World of Warcraft. Consul games and table top games can be just as addicting and cause just as many problems. They're simply a different poison.

Is it possible for a GG to avoid becoming a GW? Or is it inevitable in certain gamer relationships? First of all, we can't blame the game itself for widowing. After all, they're just pixels being pushed across a screen. In order to prevent or recognize an inevitable widowing, it's important to know the signs of it taking place in a gamer relationship and know who in the relationship is causing the widowing (SURPRISE - it's not always the gamer).

How do you know a widowing is on the horizon? It's different in every relationship and often times it's unique to that couples personal history and personality. So it's impossible to generalize all of the signs. There are, however, some repeat behaviors that you can use as a compass to gauge if your heading in that direction. Tedious game play with no time spent with your partner, constant arguing over time management and life style choices, resentment towards the game he is playing, gamer isolation from non "in game" friends and family, bickering over finance issues stemmed from purchases made to play the game, sacrificing job security in order to play the game, and avoidance of the other person due to an impending argument regarding game play. Again these are just a few recurring problems found in gamer relationships on the verge of ending.

There's only two people who can cause gamer widowing. The Gamer and the Gamer's Girl. As much as we want to blame a hunk of electronics on a desk, it is in fact based on the individuals. And as much as we want to blame the Gamer, often times it's the Gamer's Girl! I see it all the time. A girl will enter into a relationship with a gamer not knowing what they're getting themselves into or the commitment their making (or lack there of). They're mind is set on being able to change him to fit their needs. After all "it's just a game, right?" Wrong. It is true that gamers will adapt to their partner so both parties are happy, however gaming is a huge part of a gamer's character and personality - to try and remove it or alter it to make only you happy is just silly and a set up for relationship failure. These future GW stay in a doomed relationship only to constantly nag their gamer in a relentless battle of lifestyle choices. They're not looking to compromise, they're looking to be right. To them they view the game as "non productive time," thus they consider it "free time." When they don't see their gamer willing to spend all their "free time" with them, they figure there's something wrong with the guy. They don't see it as a hobby. Which is understandable b/c they can't physically tough the end result. It's not like building model airplanes or going fishing. Those tangible hobbies are easier to digest. As a GG, we realize that gaming is a hobby, a time for him to relax, or simply put: his "me" time. Most future GW try to "be right" by pointingout the hours spent on a game. They see him spending 2-4 hours on a game they don't see the point to. Well, if you want to be technical and go by hours, how about all the "me" time we spend on ourselves? The gamer never questions us when we need a 4 hour salon/spa day, or spend 6 hours at the mall window shopping, or the desire to have a Sex in the City marathon with the girls all day on Sunday. Gaming for gamer's fulfills for them what all those "girly" things fulfills for us.

Sorry Gamers, sometimes gamer widowing comes from your end too. Your Gamer Girl DOES deserve your time and attention! She is not a lower level character you can set aside and choose when and for how long you want to level her up. Gamers, often times, play a leading role in creating a GW. This usually comes from them not being about to identify the difference between "relationship time" and "hobby time." The GG being in the same room as their Gamer while he plays a game and she piddles around waiting IS NOT relationship time. "Relationship time" should be spend engaged in each other. Whether that's having a discussion over dinner or reading comics together at Barnes and Noble - the time spent is focused on each other and not outside sources. Relationships are about balance and give and take. A Gamer can't take away all "relationship time" and substitute it for "hobby time." Just like a GG can't take away all "hobby" time for "relationship" time. Most Gamers that cause gamer widowing over look this simple formula.

Small tips to help gently resolve or prevent gamer widowing:

- Set a date night! It's much easier to be engaged with only each other when you're out of the house. Having a simple date night at least once a week makes a big difference. You can take turns deciding on what you will do on your date night so both parties participate in meaningful activities for the other person. (remember, she did learn to play Halo for you... I think you can manage a pottery class or a museum every once and a while)
- Be honest about your timing. There are times where GG do need their gamer's attention for a moment and have to interrupt their game play. Most of the time the Gamer will either completely ignore them without making a sound or give a negative response to show their annoyance. GGs deserve more then that. They make you food, keep things tighty, give you love, and sometimes do your laundry. If you can't pause the game right then and there, at least give her a real time estimate of when you can be mentally available - and then STICK TO IT. Don't say "in a minute" if you don't mean "in a minute." It's ok to say "I'll have this boss beat in approx 12 minutes and then we can chat." Be respectful. Formulate full sentences and look her in the eye, when you can. GGs know all to well that infamous "gamer minute." One minute can mean fifteen. GGs appreciate when their Gamer polightly gives them an honest estimate they stick to. That way they don't feel like you think of them as a pest.
- Prioritize your arrival from work. GGs know you've had a long day and you want to hop on your game right away. Try to resist that urge and give her at least 30 minutes. Have a seat, relax, chit chat. It wont hurt. She'll be more willing to let you be if you do.

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