I got my first video game console when I was seven as a reward for some pretty exemplary school performance that culminated in my parents proudly displaying a cardboard box close to overflowing with cables, controllers, game cartridges and Nintendo’s iconic gray and black box. They’d somehow managed to snag all of it for $75 and while I imagined my dad, a Navy man stationed on Camp Pendleton, browbeating and verbally assaulting the former owners into offering such a marvelous price, odds are they simply didn’t know what it was worth.
Granted, these were the days before the internet and GameStop but a fully functioning NES in its heyday with two controllers, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Metroid, and Gyromite including R.O.B., could and should have gone for a lot more, although I’m glad that it didn’t.
Before long, I was obsessed. I memorized maps, I remembered enemy patterns, I bombed every square inch of Hyrule and Zebes, stomped on every goomba in the Mushroom Kingdom, scoured every corner, and hunted down every last hidden room and secret item. However, the reality of my situation was that I was stuck with the games currently in my possession without a way nor means to fuel my obsession. Borrowing and renting games were options but not very consistent or convenient ones and trading games was a thing of the distant future.
As a result, my obsession cooled into something more akin to passion which was far healthier and much more manageable. As time passed and I learned about the wonders of washing cars and mowing lawns for money, I was able to fund myself with a SNES and, four years later various fast food jobs provided an N64.
This pattern has continued to the present day where my Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 can attest that I’m as much of a gamer as I’ve ever been. Over the years, video games have been a constant in my life: nursing me through the flu, comforting me after a break up, or just providing an escape from reality for a few enjoyable hours.
And then I recently discovered that my beautiful wife doesn’t really like video games. Not really at all, actually. Something like hate is probably closer to the mark.
I mean, sure, every once in a while we’d fight about video games but not very frequently or furiously. She would joke about throwing my stuff away while I was at work, I would mock-threaten divorce and we’d go about our lives. Typical, you say. End of story, right? Well, maybe not.
So what’s a game-loving guy to do? The easy answer is that I sell the games on Craigslist and I stop worrying about saving digital princesses, focusing all of my energy on my relationship with my wife instead. But that’s not really a very good answer. It sounds great on paper but everybody needs hobbies and alone time. I don’t know a single couple that spends every minute of every hour together and those that do tend to be the kind of people that get divorced over one of them stubbing their toe.
My defensive and argumentative side kicked in long enough for me to wonder why I had to do anything at all. I didn’t and don’t begrudge her the things that she likes that I don’t. I’m not asking her to give up Project Runway or Twilight. Granted, she doesn’t actually watch anything alone all that often and Twilight stuff takes up about ten hours and $10 annually, but still. It’s the principle of the thing, isn’t it? This is about the point where I realized how asinine this line of thinking was and abandoned it.
But while this could become a real and uncomfortable problem, there had to be some kind of middle-of-the-road solution. Love me or hate me for it, I’m an American and if any group of people collectively believe that you truly can have it all, it’s Americans. So, I repeat, what’s a game-loving guy to do?
Well, I decided to ask the experts. After all, I couldn’t possibly have the only relationship in the world struggling with this issue. So I did a little research, made some calls and very easily found a few people that were eager, almost excited, to help. Each of them approached the problem differently and, while a lot of their advice is common sense, some of it may surprise you.
Ready to dive into your psyche? I know I am. So with no further ado and, as with everything in else in life, ladies first!