How Video Games Changed My Love Life

Someone once told me that my desk at work looked like a teenager’s. He is right. It is littered with memories of video games. They form a warm and comfortable blanket when I sit in my cubicle because video games are such an important part of my life.

Naturally, it follows that video games would also play a huge role in my love life. But in the real world, dating is intimidating. Sometimes I found a potential partner. But trying to spark a relationship after the cliched little talk was a one-way ticket to awkward silence, shrinking and retreating to a dark corner.

I needed a change, so once I blurted out, “So, do you like video games?

When I was in high school, a boy told me he would date me if I got rid of my mustache. It was a cruel joke and he said it out loud in a crowded playground. It wasn’t the worst thing anyone ever said to me in school, but I’ve never forgotten that feeling of embarrassment that comes over me in potentially romantic scenarios. It leaves me nervous and stiff.

I’m fine interacting with guys on a regular basis, but as soon as there’s a hint of romance, I short out. I used to work at a Chinese restaurant and every time I took an order from the cute guy who worked at the video store next door, I would flush, stutter, and often give him the wrong change. He must have thought I was missing a few screws in my head.

And dating in nature is not much easier. I was meeting new people at social gatherings, doing all the “What brings you here? What are you doing? Where are you from” verbal dance before my brain started to crash.

Should I ask what they had for dinner? Do they know I’m a weirdo? Maybe I should ask them if they have any pets. Oh shit. I feel the awkward silence coming. ABORT. ABORT!

That’s when I would shrivel up, make up an excuse, and slip away into a dark corner to restart.

I knew I had to make a change so once, in a rare moment of bravery, I blurted out to a guy I was chatting with “So you like video games?”

“Yes!” he replied with a big smile.

It immediately gave me a feeling of lightness. I came alive and we ended up talking for hours about the games we were playing. Passionate words came out of my mouth as I gesticulated excitedly. Nothing happened between us, but at least I found a way to overcome my anxiety – and made a new friend along the way.

Since then, video games have been the best icebreaker for me. It’s a subject I’m passionate about and has inadvertently become a litmus test for potential relationships. I gravitate more towards those who share the same interests as me and gambling is at the top of the list.

You can absolutely be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your hobbies. But it makes life easier if they do. I dated a guy once who dragged me away from games to hang out; he didn’t understand why I spent hours staring at a computer screen.

I never want to go through that again.

Once online dating exploded, it was easier for me to connect with new people and there were more opportunities to go on dates. More often than not, I will choose the game room as the meeting place for a date. If I knew the person better, I would invite them over for video games, usually Tekken or Street Fighter.

There are several reasons for this:

  • It’s funny.
  • It kills first-date nerves because it gives you something to do.
  • You can tell a lot about someone by watching them play video games. Very important.

Video games can bring out the best and the worst in people. I made an appointment at the arcades once and things were going well until we sat down to play Street Fighter. I was having a blast and I beat him in the match. I looked and he wore the sourest expression.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said solemnly. We never saw each other again after that night.

I’ve had some furious guys venting their frustrations on the arcade equipment. I’ve had guys who have lost interest in the game and would focus their attention on the physical, perhaps mistaking the night for an “Xbox and Chill” session.

I’ve dodged a few relational bullets through video games.

I have also met some wonderful people through the game who have become close friends or romantic partners. I still fondly think back to the years I spent playing World of Warcraft with one of my boyfriends, bonding as we roamed Azeroth.

I’m currently in a relationship with a guy who watches my back in Towerfall, names discoveries after me in No Man’s Sky, and has saved my ass multiple times in Overwatch. I treasure those memories and am grateful to have someone to share my love of video games with.

Allow me to clarify one thing: being in a relationship is not everything. Being single is certainly not a tragic disease that should be cured quickly. But for many of us, it would be nice to find a soul mate. A partner in crime. A 2 player in the game of life.

I’ve been told many times that playing video games won’t get you anywhere – that it’s a waste of time and that I better invest my time doing something productive in my life. I still remember my mom telling me that I’ll never find a husband if I don’t stop playing video games because no man likes a butch woman.

I respectfully disagree with these views. Video games have helped me in so many aspects of my life in more ways than I could imagine.

This can help you find someone who wants to press start to join your game.

This story originally appeared in August 2016. It has been cropped to help highlight the wonderful contributions women have made to Kotaku Australia over the years, our way of recognizing International Women’s Day.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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