The Gamer Girlfriend: Gamer 101 for the Gaming Challenged

By Krista Bliss

Kris Bliss, who was ignorant to all things gamer until falling in love with one, discusses what happens when the geek-challenged shacks up with the ultimate gamer...

Once upon a time, I knew jack about gaming. My last foray into gaming involved rescuing Princess Toadstool on an 8-bit NES console, followed by a bitchin’ round of Duck Hunt. Dating a gamer is uncharted territory for the gaming-ignorant. Here are some basics to acclimate the geek-challenged.

1) There’s a gamer in my bed!

Ah, but what kind? Casual gamers tend to flock towards ease of play games with simple rules, while hardcore gamers are just that – hard to the core. They spend significant amounts of time playing online or console games and are a nexus of game stats, strategies and rule mastery. And, oh yes, there are other gamer types.

2) Gaming is a lifestyle.

It’s all about the game – and much more with loads of gamer media, forums, blogs, apparel, slang, social norms, sub-cultures, guilds, in-game marriages, game-accommodating schedules and disturbingly reduced sleep needs. Gaming can be a family affair (your gamer would love to share his passion with his off-spring), and often it’s a social experience. As a pimply teen, you’re gamer may have been a D&D whiz, a hacker or a MUD junkie – which means that gaming is core to his or her identity.

3) Games are habit forming…thus the lifestyle.

The brilliant thing about the gaming industry is that the games are based upon behavioral givens that foster habit formation. There’s a reason gamers can play 16, 18, 24, 30 hours straight. Like television, video games (especially MMORPGs like World of Warcraft) are inherently habit forming. Habit-forming = status for gamers, moola for the industry. Simple concept.

4) Gamer time is radically disproportionate to actual time.

Twenty minutes in gamer land can stretch into several hours real time. To be fair, this happens in many activities that require focus. Even so, when your honey tells you he’s just popping over to Nektulos Castle to help a group slaughter a named, don’t be fooled. While it might truly be a quickie, more likely than not it’ll take longer than expected.

5) Be prepared for nightly company.

If your beloved is a social gamer, a good chunk of their social time will fold into gaming. Be prepared for late nights of processed snack fueled Xbox gatherings or epic raids that bring the voices of 23 other gamers right into your bedroom, courtesy of Ventrilo or TeamSpeak.

6) Be prepared to create your very own “alt” or two.

Creating “alts” can be an addictive experience for gamers and non-gamers alike. An alt is your gaming avatar – you personalize the race, gender, class, look, name and role-play story. Yours truly has leveled a 61 Wood Elf Fury and 60 Dark Elf Warlock on “Evercrack.”

7) You may love it, hate it or feel dubious. And that’s o.k.

Some of us geek-challenged folk will come to love gaming (much to our partner’s delight). Some of us will despise it (gamer cries), and still others will feel ambivalent. It’s o.k. There’s no need to force yourself into being a girl geek, unless you discover you are one. What’s important is that you genuinely respect one another and find ways to connect.

8) Gamers have other interests too.

Yeah. D&D, anime, manga, sci-fi, computers, comics, graphic novels, Comic-Con…

9) There are really cool, creative and socially appropriate gamers.

Hopefully your boyfriend or girlfriend is one of them. 

10) There are really creepy, annoying and socially frightening gamers.

My boyfriend and I have come across some seriously mal-adjusted people while playing MMOs. A vast array of megalomaniacs, alpha-bullies, pervs and attention-seekers – all at your fingertips.


By day, Kris Bliss is a therapist who holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology & Expressive Arts Therapy and studies Asian Bodywork Therapy at the Acupressure Institute. When not mired by existential crisis, Kris can be found writing, blogging, collaging, reading, and otherwise engaging in random shenanigans.  She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her gamer boyfriend and three neurotic cat-people.

Image via Game Girl

Mon, 08 Sep 2008 10:00 (GMT+01)
2 Responses

The bit about gamer time is so true... as an ex-social gamer, I used to get sucked into Quake and would happily play that for hours.

Its a great way to unwind, providing you have the will power to switch off. These days I have 3 brand new games in my desk draw which haven't even been installed. :(

Mon, 08-Sep-2008 11:36 GMT

Valuable advice, Kriss - very valuable advice. As the former sig oth of multiple gamers, I find it all to be pretty true...

Tue, 09-Sep-2008 20:49 GMT

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