Last night I kinda barged into an interesting conversation on twitter between some of my fellow TGENerates. This morning I thought I would write a bit about it, in a very non-standard blog post for me. While I don’t refer to her as a Gaming Muggle… I guess that would probably be a potential term for my own spouse. She doesn’t identify with the term gamer, even though she owned an Atari, a Nintendo, and currently plays more mobile games than I will likely ever play in my life. However because she tends to play spider solitaire or sudoku… she doesn’t consider it gaming. The truth is gaming left her when it went three dimensional, and what I mean by that is… she is capable of dealing with two dimensional planes and moving objects across them. However since her eyes never fused completely, she struggles with depth perception type tasks… especially in the virtual world where there are far less visual queues so to where an object is in relation to other objects. So I can remember her happily playing Tetris Attack in my college apartment, but once we moved to the Nintendo 64… that era was pretty much dead to her. My wife however is absolutely a geek, and we actually met due to our at the time shared IRC addiction. We were introduced by a man in Belgium, even though we grew up thirty minutes apart.
I will admit I have always been more than a little jealous of “gamer couples”, and seeing them in the various games I have played exploring these virtual worlds together. That said I know in the case of my wife and I we would probably just drive each other insane. We are both extremely good at the things we do… we just get to the same conclusion in vastly different ways. For example when we clean the house we tend to divide and conquer, each taking specific rooms. The reason being if we are trying to clean the same room at the same time we just end up getting in each others way. My fear is that in gaming the same would be true, with her taking one path, and me taking another… but ultimately ending up in the same location at the end. She has this inborn sense of direction that I have always coveted, because I have to navigate based on landmarks… and get completely lost when those landmarks are missing or have changed. I can enter a subdivision and within minutes have no clue which direction I am going anymore… and somehow she can magically tell me exactly what our heading is at any point during the trip. So I think she would honestly probably be far better at navigation than I would even in the virtual space.
Over the years I have come to realize that having a non-gaming spouse is actually a big benefit for me personally. Everquest was essentially my first MMO, and it bit hold of me hard. Essentially the ability to explore a fantasy world was the sort of thing I had always craved, and giving me an always on persistent world to do it in… was absolute crack. The truth is that for most people that got really hooked on that game… it was in fact like a drug. There were more than a few people that I know that changed almost everything about their lives to adjust to doing things in Everquest. The ones who had it worse in a way were the ones with spouses also addicted to that game. I watched my friends alienate other friends, blow off jobs, and ultimately destroy relationships because of it. While playing I watched more than one marriage disintegrate, as some folks simply forgot to keep checking into the world. Bills may or may not have gotten paid, kids and animals may or may not have gotten fed. There was a bit of a dark underbelly to that game, and as a result it made me realize how lucky I am to have someone to forcibly pull me out of some of those mires.
To answer Liore’s question… how does one balance? Well having that person that isn’t doing the thing that you are doing… helps me at least realize that there is a world other than the games I happen to be playing. It isn’t exactly easy sometimes, especially considering that the reason why I game as much as I do is because my spouse is often busy with her own work. My wife is a rockstar teacher and because of that ends up spending upwards of eighty hours a week working on this or that item for her classroom. She takes it all super seriously, and because of that they have piled on so many extra duties. So there are a lot of times where I am busy with a game, and she is busy with lesson plans… and we are in completely different rooms conversing over instant messenger. It works… because we know we are in this together. The relationship is in the little things, and the fact that for the most part we “get” each other. I made the comment last night that “marriage is a strange thing… you never really know what is going to work… until it does” and that really is the case. I don’t know how or why it works… but it does and we have been together nineteen years… and married seventeen.
I think the reason why we work is because on some levels we are completely and utterly different people. There are times it feels like the only thing we share in common, is our love for each other. I love Horror and Science Fiction movies… and she loves Home Improvement Television and Crime Dramas. She is very religious… and I am pretty deeply anti-religion in general. But the strange thing is… or differences make us stronger as a whole. We are unlike most couples in that from the moment we go together we were pretty much a team. Hell in college we pooled all of our resources into a joint bank account and pretty much supported each other, and I know married couples that have never had a joint bank account in their lives. This common sense of struggle together means that pretty much everything is tackled as a team. So if I don’t know how to do something, and she does… and then sometimes she doesn’t know how to do something, I do… we have a wider range of skills that make it easier to tackle things. I think the fundamental truth is that we have faith in each other, to do the things that we know we can’t ourselves.
What also makes it work is that for the most part we “get” and respect the things we choose to do. While I may not understand the concepts my wife is teaching… because Math has always been my weakest area… I get why she needs resources that her school cannot provide her, and never begrudge getting those items regardless of cost. Similarly my wife doesn’t necessarily understand why I love Star Wars or Lego.. or the countless game franchises I do… but she is constantly on the look out for things she knows I will like. The other day she found me an awesome R2-D2 skull cap that I plan on rocking this winter when it gets cold. She has also come home with Legos that she happens to find on sale somewhere, thinking I would like them. Similarly I am constantly searching for whatever things she is into, and have gone to silly lengths to track down whatever it is that she is hunting for. So while I might have a “muggle” wife… she certainly knows the important bits, and at the same time reminds me that there is a world just outside our door as well.