As gamers, we spend a majority of our free time exploring strange new worlds, not unlike the Enterprise. It's not difficult to get lost inside a videogame and suddenly wonder where the hell the last four hours went. This can put a strain on devoting time to other things in life, including food, personal hygiene, real work and other people in your life. For those of us lucky enough to have found somebody who at least tolerates gaming, spending time playing and spending time with a partner need not be mutually exclusive.
I've overheard and listened to many a conversation where one person in a relationship, not a gamer, is astounded by how often their significant other plays. They seem to operate under the assumption that gaming is their partner's "thing," one of those exclusive hobbies that is not accepting applications at the moment. Personally, I find that concept strange; if your intention is to spend the rest of your life with another human, why would you not want to include them in everything? Why would you look at the enormous collection of games you have stockpiled over the years and not want them to experience every iconic (fuck Ubisoft for ruining that word) moment too?
Okay, the stage is set: you have asked your life mate to play a game with you. Life mate agrees. You smile, hug, kiss and perhaps forget about the game all together. When you come back for air, you realize something: what if they have never played before?
There are many ways for you to take your mate by the hand and lead them into the deep, shark-infested ocean of videogames. We are going to explore ways to share multiplayer games with them, as well as make solo games something you can both enjoy. By the time we are done here, not only will you hopefully have learned something, you can spend less time worrying about when "I" will have time to play, and instead look forward to when "we" can pick up the controllers again.
START WITH CO-OP
Perhaps this heading sounds a bit redundant considering the title of this blog, but it needs to be emphasized. If you want to teach your partner how to play, the best thing to do is to take them along for the ride. Can you remember the first time you attempted to drive a car, or tried to solve an equation using the Quadratic Formula? For somebody who has never played a modern video game before, the same level of intimidation can apply when they grasp a controller, especially in 2015 when every console is operated by two analog sticks, a d-pad and at least eight buttons which also include analog triggers. Simply shoving the gamepad in your partner's hands and explaining how to play is not going to help; if you are playing together, not only do you have the chance to explain the mechanics and controls, you can lead by example so that your partner has a visual learning tool.
For your very first game together, I would suggest Borderlands, or its vastly superior sequel. Gearbox bullshite aside, this series works perfectly for a number of reasons. First of all, the controls of Borderlands mirror those of almost every first-person shooter on the market. By teaching your partner how to play, they will automatically acquire the skills necessary to play along in Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, and dozens of other similar adventures. Secondly, Borderlands makes the co-op experience ideal for helping others. If your partner is having trouble with enemies, you (the experienced one) will always be nearby to revive them and reassure them. Adding to the benefits of a co-op campaign, unlike other lootings with RPG elements, Borderlands gives your partner just as much EXP as you when one character makes a kill or completes a quest. This way, you and your partner will stay on a level playing field as your mate continues to evolve as a gamer.
STAY OFFLINE WHILE IN MULTIPLAYER, FOR NOW
While I fully expect you to be a brilliant teacher and instructor for your partner, the key to helping them learn the skills to play games with and without you is plenty of positive reinforcement. By concealing them from the cruel world of online multiplayer, you will help facilitate a better learning environment, free from the vile insults of eleven-year-olds high on Monster energy drinks and Doritos. You may have developed a thick skin after years of putting up with barrages of "FUCK YOU HAX!" every time you manage a headshot, but this can be intimidating to someone new to gaming and may serve to completely turn off your partner from playing online.
With time, you can certainly dip your feet into online play, but my best advice would be to keep voice chat muted. Despite removing the harassment, the skill level of all online players can be as wildly unpredictable as global warming. Keep your partner on the same team as you before deciding to launch into a free-for-all deathmatch. Once you are both comfortable enough to take off the training wheels, you can turn chat back on and unleash your very best trash talk on a level that most of the teenagers online have never heard before in their lives. It will be a beautiful and romantic moment.
TURN SINGLE PLAYER INTO A SHARED EXPERIENCE
All right, so we covered multiplayer, but what about an 80-hour RPG that requires grinding? This, like all relationships, may require some time management. You and your partner can easily trade off hunting down enemies, leveling up and taking on side quests while simultaneously taking in the story. RPGs with more emphasis on tactics rather than action are as much of a fulfilling experience together as binge watching a TV series on Netflix.
If that is too much of an investment, any of Telltale Games' episodic series are perfect for a night on the couch. You or your partner can hold the controller while The Walking Dead is playing, and whoever is not pressing the buttons can call out dialogue options and make crucial decisions. My fiance and I did this with Heavy Rain and it made the game a great experience all over again, and no, I will not deny my shameless love for that game.
I know, also, that there are people on this site who have not yet found someone to game with for the rest of their lives. I am not a relationship expert, and I do not have the magic advice that can find this person for you. I can, however, tell you this: somewhere out there, in this sea of humanity, someone wants to be with you. I got really fucking lucky. You can too.
Does anyone want to share their experiences while gaming with their partners? Please comment away, and if you want to talk about other stuffs, follow me on Twitter or message me here (if you can still do that...>.>). Thank you to everyone for reading, and happy gaming!