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Gamer+Girl: How to Get Your Girlfriend into Gaming

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.

Robyn Fleming is the Senior Editor of Cerise Mgazine and is a regular contributor to feminist media blog The Hathor Legacy and daughter-blog Books@THL. When she’s not playing RPGs, reading books, watching sci-fi television shows, or writing about one of the preceding activities, Robyn works on her original fiction and poetry, samples of which can be found at RobynFleming.com.

* 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!

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7 Responses »

  1. LOL. As a gamer girl myself, I’ve been there. The problem with No. 1 is that gamer girls are rarer than gamer boys, resulting in unseemly drooling from the boys when they realise that “OMG, she’s a girl and she *games*.” :D

  2. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. The key to this isn’t so much “How to get your girlfriend into gaming” but rather “how do I get a girlfriend?”

    RIMSHOT!

    Seriously, the rules here apply for that too. Find a person with similar interests, don’t be an elitist jerk, etc. Don’t forget to roll D20 to Save against “Definitely Out of Your League.”

  3. Cheryl – Fortunately, I think the gap is getting much smaller! But I’ve got lots of true hilarious stories about the “OMG a girl who games” experience, too. The best/worst being the time I introduced a new geeky female friend to my circle of geeky guy friends, and they all tried to seduce her at once – even the one who had been kissing me just a few weeks prior – and spent hours and hours telling me about how awesome it was to finally meet a girl with the same interests as them. Apparently, despite hanging out with me for years, none of them had ever actually met me before!

    Clint – Yeah, I think “don’t be an elitist jerk” and “find common interests” are pretty excellent all-purpose rules.

  4. The shameless desperate flirting can be funny though. Geek guys used to do it in front of my boyfriend, who would stand back and watch the resulting snark with a big grin. :D

    The gap is shrinking, but I think it will be a while before the male half of the community get over the novelty. ;)

  5. Robyn, thank you for writing a very insightful article. While sharing a number of interests helps create a strong relationship, it’s not necessary (or even healthy) for partners to be 100% into the same exact things. And many times gamers forget this. They can also forget that a relationship is a two-way street. Exploring the areas of interest that your significant other has (that you might not have) can open up new possibilities…and gamers always want their significant to try out what they do, but many times the gamers forget to “return the favor” and explore the activities their non-gamer partner (and friends) do. And if your significant decides that gaming isn’t for them…that is ok, as long as both sides respect the other. Try and arrange things that while you game, they get to go do their favorite activity. Thus no one is prevented from doing what they like…just be sure to also arange together time to do the things you both like. If this is not possible between the partners…then perhaps it’s not the right relationship for either of them.

  6. Haha, I came across this article because that picture there is of me. lol. It was taken at my grandmother’s house this summer after she got a brand new wii.
    As for this article, my bf (who took the picture incidentally) is not into games…at all. But we managed to find some common ground with Trivial Pursuit.
    Also, just like any hobby, you have to learn to respect the other person’s interests. If your bf/gf doesn’t like gaming, then try and find something they do like and see if you can find a middle ground.
    If your gf doesn’t like gaming, see what their experience with gaming is. Perhaps she’s only been exposed to specific types of games. Maybe she’d prefer something more centered on strategy or physical activity. Encourage her to try new things, but don’t force it on her. Present it as a fun opportunity, not some sort of requirement she must meet.
    A relationship is about give and take. This means that both of you must give up a little bit and take a bit of what the other is giving. Sometimes that means stepping away from the console for awhile, but make sure your bf/gf realizes that it is something that you enjoy. Make it known that it is something that will be involved. If they’ve got a problem with that, then…they’re probably not worth it.

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