Playing With Others: Insert Coin

[Editor’s note: LaxLuster tells us how he found his wife for his Playing With Other’s Monthly Musing. — CTZ]

Its funny looking back on my grade school years and remembering that I used to be attracted to the “princess in the tower”. There was something magical about the beautiful damsel in distress that merely needed a hero to rescue her, throw her over your saddlebag and gallop off to the nearest book store so she could go browsing through the latest Dungeon Masters guide with you. Needless to say that never happened, mostly because I was anything but a gallant knight and I don’t even like horses. It wasn’t until senior year when I watched as one of the short, bitchy girls from my creative writing class push some antagonizing jerk into a locker as she made her way to class that I knew I’d been wrong all of those years. There’s a reason that the cheerleaders always got killed in Zombies Ate My Neighbor.

My best friend, and later best man, sat down with me one night and came up with a list of qualities that we wanted in our future spouse. His were mostly rational, but I firmly believe that mine were better thought out. The perfect woman for me needed to prefer Taco Bell to Taco Bueno, laugh at farts and be able to handle herself in case of a zombie outbreak. I need that peace of mind so that I feel comfortable knowing she can look after herself until I get there and we can find a safe shelter to lay low in for a while. There was also something in there about a #$&@ that tasted like red-rope licorice, but I was willing to let that slide.

While the first two were easy enough to figure out and could pretty much be tested in the same evening, it was the third that required a little bit more delicacy. It wouldn’t typically come along until we’d been dating for a little while and I was ready to test the waters to see if it was serious. If they sneered at the idea of going to an arcade with me, the relationship was pretty much over. If they did agree, it was time to bust out the scorecard.

Gun games have always been a bit of an obsession. In fact, I can’t think of much of any other reason to go to an arcade these days. There haven’t been any good games like Golden Axe or Aliens vs. Predators in nearly a decade. Fighting games are generally less a token of skill and more a mad frenzy of button mashing. Most importantly, arcades have become the new disco with a bunch of punk kids tapping their feet around on giant dance pads to the latest J-Pop. It’s more than a little disturbing to watch if you’re not into that sort of thing.

From my experience, there are three types of girls when it comes to gun games. First of all is the clinger. She doesn’t want to play the game, but she’s perfectly content holding onto your arm, marking her territory from arcade skanks and watching virtual bodies fall beneath the wrath of your nerd rage. Secondly there’s the giggler. This is the girl who makes an attempt to try the game, but she sucks and can’t seem to take it seriously, either resulting in giggling clumsiness or annoyed frustration. Finally, there’s the natural born killer. She may act innocent as you walk up and insert some credits for the two of you to begin, but get that gun in her hand and she’ll start mowing down anything that gets between her and the bonus ammo.

Having far too many experiences with the first two types, I remember watching in stunned fascination as my wife-to-be would switch the pistol from one hand to the other, each as adept at zombie headshots in House of the Dead 2 as the former. As if this wasn’t enough, we moved around until we’d tackled every decent gun game in the place only to move upstairs and watch her skilled hands tackle skee-ball and jackpot one of the ticket games two times in a row. Watching her buy a prize with her own tickets was only the first of many emasculating experiences to come along in our life together, but damned if I wasn’t the luckiest guy there.

Ever since, I’ve tried to get her into games at home. We’ve yet to find a good multiplayer game that we can agree on with exception of Rock Band, but I’m still hopeful. Even though she used to be a big fan of FPS games, the problem comes from not having much free time, although one day soon I’ll unleash my evil plan to get her addicted to Fallout 3 and back into the world of gaming.

As they say at Arlington Memorial Library – “We’ll always have GameWorks.”