There are a fair number of things in this world that annoy the snot out of me. One of these is the ever-popular “How to Get Your Girlfriend into Gaming” guide (along with its close relatives, the “How to Get Your Girlfriend into Comics/Sci-fi/Anything Geeky” guides). So, naturally, I’m going to write one.
How to Get Your Girlfriend (or Boyfriend, Best Friend, or Other Person You Like to Spend Time With) into Gaming
1. Consider dating someone who is already a gamer
Seriously. If you have a strong interest in gaming (or anything else), doesn’t it make sense to pursue people with similar hobbies? One of the things that baffles me the most about the “How to Get Your Girlfriend into Gaming” lists is that they generally proceed from the assumption that “Your Girlfriend” not only doesn’t like any of the things you like, but might actually even hate them. Why would you date this person?
2. Rethink your definition of gaming
I’ve known a lot of people who will vigorously claim that their significant other doesn’t game even when she (or he) is sitting right there on the couch playing Bejeweled on a cell phone. But Bejeweled is a casual game! It’s something people’s moms play! It’s not a real game!
Yeah, whatever. Whether or not you personally consider casual games to be “real” games, there’s no denying that they can be the gateway addiction that sucks people in to gaming generally. It’s pretty easy to make the transition from Bejeweled to Puzzle Quest to console RPGs. Don’t discount the games or game-like things your partner is already enjoying. Getting someone in your life involved in your particular hobbies is a lot easier if you start out by paying attention to theirs and work towards a point of intersecting interest.
3. Don’t be an elitist jerk
I am saying this fondly as one geek to others: You know that thing you do where you show off how awesome you are to your friends by challenging them to provide the correct answers to (often very obscure) trivia questions? It’s not attractive.
True hilarious story time! I was hanging out in my local gaming store one day some years ago, at a time when I happened to be single, and started flirting with the guy behind the counter. We were chatting away, but pretty soon we ran out of things to say about dice, so I took a cue from the CD wallet he had open in front of him.
“Oh, you listen to techno!” I said, batting my eyelashes for all I was worth. “Orbital, huh? I really like their stuff.”
And then it happened. The geek cred check.
“You listen to Orbital? Well then, you can tell me which three motion pictures featured their song “Halcyon” over the end credits!”*
I actually could name two of the films he was referencing! But not knowing the third right off the top of my head was enough to make him sneer at me, and the fact that he was aggressively checking my cred was enough to turn me right off even before he started making a face.
Not only can the cred check mess up a potential flirtation, it can also keep your more long-standing significant other from wanting to do geeky gamer stuff with you. Don’t sabotage potential shared gaming experiences with the demand that your partner prove her worthiness to play.
And for the love of all that is holy, don’t let your friends do it, either. I once had a group of guys give me a survey to complete, which they then graded in front of me (yeah, I filled it out. I don’t know what I was thinking), which was designed to determine whether I’d be a worthy girlfriend for their friend. I am not making this up.
4. Remember: Games are supposed to be fun
Is your girlfriend (or boyfriend, or etc.) having fun? Are you having fun trying to force her to have fun? No? Then knock it off. The best way to get people to join you for any activity is to make it pleasant and entertaining. Coercion is not pleasant for most people.
And there’s no magic way to force someone to become a gamer, no matter what any of those other guides out there might claim. I think you’ll find, though, that if you spend as much time paying attention to what your partner likes as you do trying to engage her in your own hobbies — and if you avoid being a jerk, of course — you’ll find ways that you can game together.
But what do I know? I’m just some gamer geek writing a guide on the internet.
* First, the song is actually called “Halcyon + on + on.” And it’s been used in the end credits of at least four movies, now. Mortal Kombat, Hackers, CKY2K and Mean Girls. Take that, guy who used to work at my local gaming store!