Video and computer games are some of the most underrated relationship-building tools.
My husband and I had a long-distance relationship from the time we met until we got married (and even after we got married as we waited on immigration). Many people wonder how we could possibly know each other well enough to get married if we’d never lived near each other. Alongside long hours spent talking on the phone and webcams and all-too-brief visits, we were also able to learn about each other through playing online games.
Put your skepticism on hold—I’m about to tell you three things you can learn about the person you’re with simply by playing a game together, plus why I think every couple can benefit from it.
Do they know how to share, and will they make sacrifices for you?
In World of Warcraft, the game my husband and I started playing as a long-distance dating couple, bag space is at a premium. You start with one bag (out of a possible five), and you don’t have the money to buy any more. So what? Well, if you don’t have enough bag space, you’ll waste a lot of time running back to a vendor to empty your bags rather than being able to complete all the quests in an area at once. And until you reach level 20 and get riding training and a mount, all travel is slow and on foot.
You also start out broke, with not a single coin in your purse. You have to earn money by completing quests and selling what drops from the monsters you fight. This can make buying new gear, buying bags, or getting the training you need slow at first.
Unless your significant other has a higher-level character and is willing to send your baby toon (a way of saying “low-level character”) four 16-slot bags and 250 gold. They just showed that they value helping you over advancing their own character.
Any game where two players can share items, ammo, money, or information can tell you a lot about the character of the person you’re playing with.
How do you function as a team?
In WoW, you can play cooperatively with someone else by joining a group and going on quests together. (A lot of games have this team element to them, so, again, this point isn’t confined to WoW.)
My husband and I play as a damage-dealer/healer pair. He has to have my back and protect me from mobs that would rip through my flimsy cloth “armor,” and I have to make sure I don’t let his health drop to critical levels. Does the person you’re with watch out for you, or do they run off and let you die?
Other quests and dungeons require a certain amount of strategy. In other words, you need to develop good communication skills if you expect to succeed.
And when you fail, do they blame it all on you? Or do you both accept responsibility and figure out a new plan together?
How patient will your partner be with your shortcomings (or what they consider shortcomings)?
According to my husband, I’m a slow player with limited situational awareness. I locate quests slower, choose my rewards slower, empty my bags slower—you get the idea. It’s a difference in our play styles. I’m living the fantasy and savoring the experience. He just wants to level because he’s already played the content multiple times before.
I also tend to accidentally attract bad guys because I don’t see them. I prefer to play with my view zoomed in closer, while my husband plays with his zoomed out as far as it will go. Neither of us can understand how the other plays the way they do.
So we work to find a compromise between our play styles, we try to be patient, and we continue to play together because the fun we have far outweighs our frustrations.
Have you played video or computer games with your loved one? Is there anything else you would consider an underrated relationship-building tool?
For another great post on the value of gaming in life and relationships, check out Kristen Lamb’s post “Gears of War—Playtime, Obsession, Foundation of a Happy Marriage.”
Image Credit: Jer Wilcocks Photography (That’s my husband and I from our engagement photo shoot in the picture.)
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