A flaming barrel of video game stereotypes, part I

Flaming barrel hits hapless plumber!

Let’s see what the flaming barrel of stereotypes has for us to day, shall we kids?

1. Video games can ruin your relationship!

Ah, such a classic and volatile subject. Gal feels like she and her guy aren’t spending enough time together; obvious culprit is guy’s “males only” hobby that he spends a lot of time on! This story, which could take place in almost any decade of the last century, used to be about golf or football (or in some more eccentric cases, reading
books
) but now it’s told more about video games than anything else. And of course, video games are an even more juvenile waste of time, right? Combined with feminism, you have a heady mix of couch-potato disempowerment that’s sapping the manhood and responsibility from a whole generation of guys! Woe!

Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to go that way. Rachel Shukert’s story in Salon, which has been the most read piece on that site for the last couple days, ends with a suggestion that a lot of people have made to resolve this “dilemma.” Gaming really doesn’t have to be such an exclusively masculine pursuit, so why not play video games together? We’re currently enjoying a bumper crop of games that aren’t designed exclusively for the post-adolescent trigger-happy guy crowd, from almost every title on the Wii to Rock Band, which Shukert credits with “saving her marriage.”

The thing is, in order to reach this turnaround ending, Shukert first has to set her marriage up as a morass of communication problems and neglect that any thoughtful reader will quickly realize couldn’t actually be fixed by Rock Band. She establishes a more familiar domestic diorama where video games are A Big Problem. Shukert writes exaggerated, campy prose, and at one point mocks herself as a pile of “pathetic, whining neediness.” Her attempts at comic hyperbole give me a glimmer of hope that her actual relationship might not really resemble the hoary scene out of the Honeymooners that she paints. But it still grates like Wolverine playing Chopin on a chalkboard to watch the actors in her scene go through the tired old paces of misogynist relationship roles:

I click on another page, where a forum of concerned women instruct me to regain Ben’s attention by walking around the house dressed in skimpy outfits and waggling my hips provocatively. One enterprising poster, aptly named Cyberhottie69, even suggests draping one’s naked breasts somewhere impossible to miss — like the coffee table, or on his head, like a doughy, undulating hat.

The angle Ben is sitting at makes this impossible, but I sit beside him on the couch, unzip my hoodie to reveal the lacy top of my bra, and press my breasts firmly against his bicep.


Having been targeted by this kind of tactic before, I can tell you that there are few things less sexy than someone “acting seductive” in order to distract you from something you’re trying to do alone. Like reading a book, writing a paper, or yes, playing a video game. OK, so boobhats might be funny once or twice as a joke, which hopefully was what Shukert was aiming for.

Alas, it’s a serious enough stereotype that it seems difficult to read it for humor alone. The Salon comments threads, a pit of incivility at the best of times, are full of hyperbolic statements about how video game addiction is the bane of any relationship, about how needing to compete with an Xbox for your husband’s attention is a serious problem, about how thinking you HAVE to compete with an Xbox is a serious problem.

But it’s really very simple. Regardless of your gender, if you are trying to compete with something else for your partner’s attention it most often means one of two things:

a) your partner doesn’t want to spend as much time together as you do! You may be slightly or gravely incompatible in this regard, and you’ll have to work it out. Yes, being in a relationship means spending quality, attentive time together; it also means spending time apart on your own pursuits. And that’s perfectly all right and healthy sometimes — or a lot of the time, for some relationships. Maybe you should get a hobby too! Or find someone who’s more on par with you in terms of commitment of time and attention.

b) there is a problem in your relationship, or in your partner’s life (depression is often a good culprit) and your partner is trying to escape it through an absorbing activity that helps him or her avoid dealing.

In other words, time away from your partner can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the dosage and the individual relationship. I’m probably not telling most of you anything you don’t know already.

On top of all of this, video games are still seen as mostly male territory that women can’t or wouldn’t want to enter, which just intensifies this feeling of “my boyfriend is somewhere I can’t go, so I have to drag him out or I’ll never see him!” The no-girls-allowed feeling isn’t without reason, since the video game industry has been predominantly or exclusively targeting young men for decades.

On the other hand, I don’t think the majority of gamer guys — at least the ones who have healthy relationships with the women in their lives — are all that interested in preserving their gaming experience as an exclusive boys’ club. Most adult male gamers these days have played games with women, and far too many fantasize about having a girlfriend who will play games with them, as most female gamers will tell you with an eye-rolling grimace.

So at some level, Shukert is right. There is a way out of this ugly 1950s scene, even if just whaling on plastic instruments together for a few hours is not really going to fix everything. Yes, it’s perfectly all right for men AND women in relationships to have individual pursuits; no, there isn’t any hobby that HAS to be exclusively male or exclusively female, which means there are actually more opportunities to do things together than Gendertron 8000 wants you to believe.

But don’t take my word for it: mightyponygirl, as usual, has plenty of smart things to say at the intersection of feminism and gaming. Leigh Alexander at Kotaku seemed to basically like the upending of the “games are bad for my relationship!” stereotype, although commenters point out many of the problems. And Amanda at Pandagon points out a lot of the gaping self-esteem holes and tired relationship tropes all over Shukert’s writing.



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About Holly

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/12/10/and-this-is-the-part-where-i-stumble-in-kinda-late/
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47 Responses to A flaming barrel of video game stereotypes, part I

  1. Sarah J says:

    One of my friends actually met the man she’s going to marry over Halo on XBox Live.

    And the Wii is the best party tool ever. It turns sitting around drinking beer in small groups into a group activity that you can enjoy even when you’re just watching.

    I was always that girl whose boyfriends would tell her “You know, you’re the only girl I’ve ever met who likes X or Y or Z as much as I do.” To which I would usually roll my eyes and tell them they aren’t looking very far.

    But admittedly, some of those things I tried because said boy seemed to like them so much, why wouldn’t I? Gaming/boxing/mountain biking/drinking and playing pool/watching hockey aren’t limited to the boys.

    Again, blaming the symptom instead of the cause.

  2. Kristen says:

    And we wonder about the high divorce rate…

    Concept 1: Individuals like different things.

    Concept 2: Individuals will continue to like different things even when they are in a relationship.

    Concept 3: That someone likes different things than you…is not about YOU. (I know shocker.)

    Concept 4: If everything needs to be about you, you need therapy.

  3. BWrites says:

    I saw the headline for that article and ignored it for just that reason– sometimes I wonder if Salon’s met a stereotype it doesn’t want to reinforce. Hell, I’ve played Madden Football with my husband, and enjoyed it, and I hate watching football!

  4. tannenburg says:

    My wife and I have been gaming together for the duration of our marriage…let’s just say it’s been a long time and leave specifics aside. We started out with good old tabletop RPGs (we met at one, actually) and moved through cooperative PC games to MMORPGs (World of Warcraft, etc.) upon which SHE actually got ME hooked…so we’re happily geeky together.

    I find it interesting that there is often a bigger issue here; true, there are “video game widows,” but isn’t that part of the same phenomenon – golf widows, football widows, poker widows, women “waiting until her husband comes home from a night out at the bar with the boys” – we’ve been seeing for years? True, video games are NEW EVIL SCARY MYSTERIOUS things, but as the posters above mentioned, gaming is actually a more accessible media for group play and participation than many of those other “man-cave” hobbies.

    Again, the issue isn’t video gaming as such but communication…if one partner is immersed in an activity and excludes or ignores the other, it’s a different problem altogether.

  5. C. says:

    man, they are going to divorce as soon as they hit Run for the Hills on expert. There’s no way such a shallow relationship will survive one player constantly failing out and using all of the other’s continues.

  6. Chel says:

    Maybe I’m not as cool as those gamer girls you’re talking about cause I have tried and really just hate videogames (with the exception of Zelda and MarioKart). I’m not sure if just having a hobby of your own can help either, because I am an artist and activist…. but I come home at 9 or so, and he’s still playing the damn game that he was playing when I left until 12am? I think the extent that guys take gaming is a little ridiculous. Hobbies are HOBBIES not something you do for 12 hrs in a day.

  7. Holly says:

    I find it interesting that there is often a bigger issue here; true, there are “video game widows,” but isn’t that part of the same phenomenon – golf widows, football widows, poker widows, women “waiting until her husband comes home from a night out at the bar with the boys” – we’ve been seeing for years? True, video games are NEW EVIL SCARY MYSTERIOUS things, but as the posters above mentioned, gaming is actually a more accessible media for group play and participation than many of those other “man-cave” hobbies.

    Poker nights — a good one that I neglected to mention. The interesting thing is that these are all games, and ones that are stereotyped as men’s games. Of course, other card games (or tile games, like mahjong) have been typed as women’s games, although to be honest you’d have to stretch to really make claims about what makes one card game “male” and another one “female.” The crucial thing in the past has been to split up people by gender, for various reasons. Video games, on the other hand, have been evolving much more quickly than sports or card games, as anyone can tell by a cursory glance at the last few decades. So it’s interesting to think about what that means for the social role of games and their intersection with gender… we get things like the Wii that can potentially upset traditional expectations.

    man, they are going to divorce as soon as they hit Run for the Hills on expert. There’s no way such a shallow relationship will survive one player constantly failing out and using all of the other’s continues.

    Expert nothing, it’s like that even on Hard!! (and i’m the drummer, i must admit — stupid gallops, I can play them way better on a real drumset)

    Maybe I’m not as cool as those gamer girls you’re talking about cause I have tried and really just hate videogames (with the exception of Zelda and MarioKart). I’m not sure if just having a hobby of your own can help either, because I am an artist and activist…. but I come home at 9 or so, and he’s still playing the damn game that he was playing when I left until 12am? I think the extent that guys take gaming is a little ridiculous. Hobbies are HOBBIES not something you do for 12 hrs in a day.

    Well, if you like Zelda and MarioKart, then there probably are other games that you’d like as well — quite possibly different games than he likes, which would not be surprising. Having different taste in music, games, books or art doesn’t make you “less cool,” it probably just makes you less of a fantasy girlfriend for guys who dream about a girl to play Halo with them. But who cares about them? As for playing for 12 hours in a day, if it’s not just a very occasional binge, then that’s not a hobby — it’s an obsession. But a useful way to consider the difference is, would it be as weird if someone was sitting and reading the same book for 9 hours? Probably it would if it was every day or four times a week, but not once in a while, if it’s a really good book.

  8. DAS says:

    Gal feels like she and her guy aren’t spending enough time together; obvious culprit is guy’s “males only” hobby that he spends a lot of time on!

    I saw this dynamic a lot in college: “my bf spends more time playing video games than he does with me” and “my gf is annoyingly passive-aggressive, why can’t she just tell me something instead of hinting at things and then getting mad when I don’t take the hint”. Essentially people would complain about stereotypical behavior in which their partners engaged, diving into a pool of sexism.

    Really, though, the problem was in how the complainants selected their mates. The young ladies who complained the most about their game-playing bfs were the types that played games with their bfs in the initial dating process. Hence they attracted guys that were interested in, well, playing games — whether the game be “jump through a series of emotional and social hoops in order to enter into a romantic relationship” or “VideoGame X1000″. Similarly, the young men who complained the most about their gfs would seek out young woman who behaved in such stereotypically feminine manners and would ignore woman who were actually assertive.

    Maybe I still suffer from the lingering bitterness of being a NiceGuy(TM) in college, but at some level I have very low patience for people who complain about certain aspects of their relationships. If you don’t want a guy who likes to play games all the time … well, don’t play games like “hard to get” when establishing relationships. If you don’t like women who hint then complain you didn’t get the hint, seek out women who are actually assertive and communicate directly.

    It’s kinda like politics — I’m similarly tired of people who complain about Bush (you see this with Sarkozy as well) and his bullying, stupifying ways … when they voted for him in 2000 and/or 2004 because they would rather have Bush than some Democrat who wants to allow icky people to do icky things or some such. People knew, or should have known as it was obvious, what Bush was (and what Sarkozy was) back in 2000. And now they complain because he is exactly for whom they voted?

  9. Cara says:

    Yeah, I think it’s a question of respect and moderation. There’s a difference between engaging in a hobby because it’s fun and engaging in a hobby in a way that becomes inconsiderate. My husband is a gamer. I’ll admit that I don’t really get it. Video games don’t really do it for me, with the exception of the original Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and some old school puzzle games like Tetris or Dr. Mario. Do I sometimes get annoyed by his gaming? Well, sure, when he’s playing this one game that has really annoying j-pop on what seems like a constant 30 second loop, or when he’s playing drums on Rock Band while I’m trying to work. So I ask him nicely if he could put the annoying music on mute, or maybe play guitar instead until I finish, and he does. Simple stuff. There’s also an issue of him playing some game while telling me that he’ll a.) do something I’ve asked him to do in a minute or b.) be done so that we can do something together in a minute, and half an hour later he’s still playing. But I do the exact same thing with my blogging. I don’t think it’s a video game issue nearly as much as an obsessive personality issue — we piss each other off due to being inconsiderate, not due to the hobbies themselves.

    In the end, I think that his games and my blogging have actually been good for us. We used to be really clingy and not really have hobbies of our own. We watched a hell of a lot more TV then. I think we probably get less annoyed with each other now than when we had the other’s constant attention.

  10. Great piece Holly!

    Maybe you should get a hobby too!

    Hell yeah!

    Chel –

    but I come home at 9 or so, and he’s still playing the damn game that he was playing when I left until 12am? I think the extent that guys take gaming is a little ridiculous. Hobbies are HOBBIES not something you do for 12 hrs in a day.

    Just as an FYI, that’s how I play video games. I rarely get to play during the week because of work, writing, dates, other random things, so when I do get in front of a console, I could very well game for 6 – 10 hours. It’s not just a guy thing.

    And it also depends on the game, who they are playing with, and what they are playing. Are they in an online match with a group of friends? Are they playing an RPG, which takes from 30 – 50 hours of gameplay to beat? Those are different from games like MarioKart (which I also love) where you can play in fifteen minute spurts and not lose anything when you put the game down.

    @Tannenburg – Cosign. My boyfriend plays golf and watches TV. I play video games. It’s really just about the communication.

  11. Vir Modestus says:

    One interesting thing that came up on the Pandagon thread is that the expectation is ALWAYS that the woman should join the man in his hobbies and never that he join her in his. I found that fascinating and yet another example of male-as-default in our society.

    In my (now ended) marriage, I was the one who was always expected to join my wife in her interests, while my interests were too esoteric or “boring” for her to consider joining me. On the one hand, we had a very well developed realization that we were different people who should and could follow our own interests. On the other hand, we eventually followed those interests right out of the marriage. Worked out really well for both of us.

  12. amandaw says:

    i am Not A Gamer. and i love the wii. honestly, nintendo showed some serious genius this time around — making games that would appeal to a wide range of people, instead of sticking to FPS games with the same storyline in different settings. they’re games that challenge you mentally -and- physically. and it’s not all just blowing shit up (which is not something that only men enjoy, but it’s also just something that i have zero interest in).

    there does seem to be a bit of a video-game-widow trend going on, just not as huge as people make it out to be. it has to do with the gender roles that our generation are taught. what it comes down to, though, is if your bf/hubby/whatever is getting caught up in this shit, and you are getting frustrated with it, and he doesn’t give a shit — that may be a Sign. you need someone with a better sense of responsibility, who cares more about how his actions affect the person he loves — you! — etc. the culprit here isn’t video games; that’s like cutting off your nose when you get the snifflies.

  13. amandaw says:

    I don’t think it’s a video game issue nearly as much as an obsessive personality issue — we piss each other off due to being inconsiderate, not due to the hobbies themselves.

    yes. we all get into a Zone when we are involved in certain things we love. i do it with design — i’ll be up til 3, 4am working in photoshop or whatever. or with writing. or reading a really good book. or hell, with organizing around the house! if i am ignoring someone i love because i’m so into whatever thing, that’s a problem of my attitudes, not a problem of the thing i’m doing.

  14. tannenburg says:

    Another thing I’ll add is this – let’s face it, the hobbies or pastimes we pursue often seem pretty strange or even halfway insane to those on the outside – except for some “society/guy culture approved” hobbies. The status quo says: collecting stuffed cats? Weird. Following sports trivia? Cool. Stamp collecting? Nerdy. Baseball card collecting? Awesome, especially with a sepia-tinged memory of happy boyhood. Listening to opera? Girly and boring. Watching oiled men wrestle each other on WWF? Macho. Playing computer games? Geeky and “never-kissed-a-girl” dorky.

    Mind you, from my perspective, I’d rather hit my head with a brick than watch any given sports broadcast, and I’m constantly amused by the homoerotic subtext of many “manly” sports…I guess the point is that one shouldn’t dismiss another person’s private pastimes without looking closely at one’s own.

  15. Vanessa says:

    If my husband has spent the entire day playing video games, I only get annoyed because *I* didn’t spend the entire day playing video games.

  16. HaloBoy says:

    The main reason I play more games now at the age of 35 than I did during a long stretch of time in my 20’s is that it is a good social network tool. Most of my long-term friends live out of state and all over the country. It is real easy to e-mail a time, and have a meet-up to game for a couple of hours. A lot of catching up over the headset. Many times it is as much just catching up with friends as it is gaming.

    I’ve never really seen it as a male/female issues, as much as an age issue. You have a bunch of guys in their 30’s playing against a bunch of 14 year olds. There is the inevitable run up from the basement to check on a small child that wakes up late at night, with questions of “how old are these guys” from other younger players.

    The same almost always holds true for golf, poker, fantasy sports etc. During the summer, a group of friends and I have a standing golf tee time early on Sunday mornings. It is the one time we each have to talk and just hang out. It is more about the socialization amongst friends than anything else.

  17. Maybe I’m not as cool as those gamer girls you’re talking about cause I have tried and really just hate videogames (with the exception of Zelda and MarioKart).

    Being a gamer geek is hardly the height of cool. But seriously, I’d totally double punch the passive aggression. “I guess I’m too busy being the lead singer of a band described as the critcs’ darling. I don’t have time to be cool enough to play video games.”

    Okay, I’m being harsh, but seriously. I’m deeply skeptical of the idea that playing video games is a bare minimum for cool. Every time I plunge into the game abyss, I feel geekier for it.

  18. Hot Tramp says:

    This issue comes up regularly on some relationship-advice message boards I watch. Young woman (and it’s always a young woman) frets about her boyfriend’s time on WoW and complains that she isn’t getting enough attention from him. And of course, it’s all that damn game’s fault!

    My first response is always, “Well, have you told him that you’d like to spend more time with him?” As opposed to passive-aggressive “hinting,” pouting, and occasionally exploding. The second is, “If you can’t be happy in a relationship with someone who devotes a lot of time to his hobbies, perhaps you should find someone who doesn’t devote a lot of time to his hobbies.”

    It’s depressing how many young women seem to be a) afraid to articulate their wants and needs, b) apparently willing to whine and rage rather than just GTFO of an unsatisfying relationship, and c) all too happy to blame inanimate objects like video games for their unhappiness. If your boyfriend’s an asshole who persistently ignores you to play WoW, and you take away WoW, he’ll just be an asshole in some other way.

  19. Entomologista says:

    I just wish these insecure women would realize that they’re actually inconveniencing several other people when they drag their boyfriends away from the computer in the middle of a raid/instance.

  20. Entomologista says:

    I’m deeply skeptical of the idea that playing video games is a bare minimum for cool.

    For real. I played video games throughout junior high and high school and I assure you that I was not popular. Civilization did not win me a single boyfriend.

  21. tannenburg says:

    A link to Sanya Weather’s blog site – she’s a former Mythic employee and blogger…

    http://eatingbees.brokentoys.org/2008/03/18/eight-tips-to-save-your-marriage-to-a-gamer/#more-63

  22. GallingGalla says:

    Cara @9 (and generally, all the comments) – Yes, open communication is key. From the perspective of an Aspie, I tend to spend hours at a time on one activity, often one that neurotypical people see as weird, even useless. Currently, it’s reading blogs (yes, I must read Every! Comment! on such-and-so trainwreck thread). In the past, it’s been looking at online maps.

    So perhaps it’d be best for me to have a relationship with another Aspie, who is likely to have a similar need / desire, or at least a neurotypical person who can understand, and is ok with, this need of mine.

    My last LTR was a disaster all around, but one aspect of it was the conflict between my need to “obsessively” (quotes, b/c I don’t like to marginalize myself that way) pursue these activities and his need for a great deal of together time. The conflict was worsened b/c I needed (and still need) to pursue these things alone and undisturbed. We conflicted and fought about this issue a lot. (Sadly, he used this as a club over my head to extract sexual quid pro quo from me.)

    If I were as aware then as I am now, I’d think that we should break up for this incompatibility alone (even w/o the other issues). I don’t consider that I’m somehow “defective” or “abnormal” b/c I have Asperger’s, but I do consider that someone else may not want to deal with that as a potential partner; if we cannot meet each other’s needs, why should we have an intimate relationship?

    Regarding gender roles, it’s interesting that in that LTR, I fulfilled many of the stereotypically male roles (I was pre-transition at that time), and he fulfilled many of the stereotypically female roles.

    As an aside, I don’t game. I don’t play most video games b/c they require way too much hand-eye coordination for me to deal with (ppl w/ Asperger’s frequently have poor fine motor skills), and b/c of numerous physical disabilities, playing most games on the wii is out of the question … it’s a shame, b/c the wii is something I could get into, as I like it’s simplicity and physicality (I’ve tried the wii, just can’t seriously play it). I guess there’s always strategy-based MMORPGs, just haven’t gotten into those.

  23. Thene says:

    I resent the implication that all of us trigger-happy post-adolescents are male. :D Most of those games are horribly alienating for women, but I still play them and love them – I want the genre to wise up, not shrink or cease.

    The only gaming problem in my relationship is making sure we aren’t both hogging the same bit of apparatus at once. Got to take turns with the DS, our PCs and the things wired up to the TV. Oh, and….TMI…all the many, many times we’ve had to pause in the middle of sex because we desperately need to talk about Metal Gear.

  24. Thene says:

    Also, does anyone here read EQDailyGrind? It’s been wound up recently, so the front page is just intermittent editorial notes, but if you click on any random month in the archives you get a barrel of stories about serious, relationship-destroying MMORPG addictions, often sent in by partners and spouses (of both genders, but mostly women). It’s terrifying reading.

  25. Sara Anderson says:

    Why can’t I just play video games with my husband? Because I SUCK at them, and spending the time it would take to get better at them is pretty dispiriting, because when you lose the game after 30 seconds of play, you’re not getting anything out of it. Except frustrated.

  26. denelian says:

    my b/f and i met at a gaming con (ok… but really, anymore, people don’t differentiate between PRG, FPS, and MMPORGs and such. at the time, *I*, i was a table-top and LARPer, video games were okay but thats it)

    so for the longest time, like 2 years, he played WoW and i read. because i was a table top gamer. D&D. GURPS. Paladium. even Vampire (and also LARP, sigh)

    then, well… he mentioned a book he thought i might have (fair bet. i’m addicted to reading) and somehow, we came up with a swap: he would try reading for pleasure if i would play WoW

    so two years later, i get to curse him for my WoW bill and he gets to curse me ‘cuz he’s got a Barnes and Noble credit card.

    heh.

  27. Holly says:

    Why can’t I just play video games with my husband? Because I SUCK at them, and spending the time it would take to get better at them is pretty dispiriting, because when you lose the game after 30 seconds of play, you’re not getting anything out of it. Except frustrated.

    Have you considered that maybe you’re just playing games that aren’t right for you? It’s quite possible that your husband likes games that you’re not good at, and just as possible that you’d be good at other types of games that he’s not. Again, not everyone likes or is good at the same things, and that goes for video games too. It’s always a little confusing when I hear someone say they’re bad at video games in general, or don’t like video games in general, because there are so many different kinds of games out there. In fact, some of the most popular categories of games are ones where it’s not even possible to lose the game after 30 seconds of play; the most popular video game in history can’t be lost at all!

  28. Yeah, it can be kinda hard to define how long on a game is too long. I think that is down to individual people and their relationships. I mean, me and my OH will play warhammer DOW, medieval total war and portal for an hour or so, but he’ll play TF2 for hours, and I’ll waste an entire weekend building some ridiculous, complex lava-pumping structure in dwarf fortress, or venting my frustration son the Sims.

    I think a big thing can be the way that gaming is approached. If the PC is in it’s own room, away from the area you would usually spend your time in, or if your OH goes all hermit-crab with gaming and just ignores everything else, well it can feel pretty lonely to be in the same house as some one else and not even hear their voice all evening, or if you don’t live together to be asked to visit ad then spend 2 hours watching them play game sin silence. But if the PCs or other gaming devices are in a fair-sized, social room with space for 2, or if you both engage each other in the games, it’s fine.

    And Danelian, I have always wanted to get into larping. How does one find a decent community to play with? One which would be gentle and understanding towards a born noob?

  29. Sara Anderson says:

    I like any game with an “easy” setting.

  30. Sara Anderson says:

    I get totally absorbed in any Sim-game – not that it can be a group activity.

  31. Mike says:

    And Danelian, I have always wanted to get into larping. How does one find a decent community to play with? One which would be gentle and understanding towards a born noob?

    It helps to have your own sword ahead of time. And a miniscule sense of shame for when you’re in character out in public always helps.

  32. Kristen says:

    Thene,

    The only gaming problem in my relationship is making sure we aren’t both hogging the same bit of apparatus at once. Got to take turns with the DS, our PCs and the things wired up to the TV.

    Sharing is a problem. I’ve often said the key to a successful relationship is that you each have your own room (where he can have his unattractive anime cels and I can have my castrating flowers). I think I may expand that to you each have your own gaming system*. Plus it enables co-op and the ability to make everything pink.**

    * Yes I know that this is socioeconomic privilege in action…and probably some of that childfree privilege as well.

    ** I hate pink. Truly, despise the color. But when it comes to traditionally masculine pursuits, particularly where I get shit from other men for engaging in those pursuits, I want to turn everything PINK. As if I’m saying to them (and myself, since no one on Xbox live can see my controller), “I’m a woman damn it. Get over it.” So I have pink golf club covers, a pink ds, a pink xbox controller, a pink accented baseball glove…well, you get the idea. It’s a sickness. Sadly my husband is the one who actually likes the color pink. Most of his cooking gear (he’s the one who makes the food) is the Komen Foundation pink.

  33. Thene says:

    Kristen – thanks for the tips! We currently live in a one-room flat, but fortunately he’s not into PC gaming and I am. :) So when it’s his turn at the PS2/Wii, I can play Sims2 or one of my RPGs. We find what Bunny Mazonas says to be true – it’s good to play in separate corners of the same room, stopping for hugs every so often and to ask how it’s going.

    I like the look of the pink DS (though mine’s black – present from a friend). Pink clothes don’t suit me at all, so pink tech is an awesome novelty. I understand your reasoning – it’s a bit like (ahem) getting sex toys in soft colours; sure, it might be lame that those colours are used to mark things as being ‘feminine’, but it’s a sort of reclaiming of male apparatus; you can have it without pretending you’re a guy. (If only more games let you do that. .__.)

  34. exholt says:

    I think the extent that guys take gaming is a little ridiculous. Hobbies are HOBBIES not something you do for 12 hrs in a day.

    I don’t think this issue is solely a gaming issue.

    I’ve heard similar complaints from spouses and bf/gfs about people in occupations which demand long hours such as academia, law, medicine, etc. While the latter two are often considered somewhat “forgivable” due to the popular perception of them being highly lucrative, I’ve heard plenty of complaining over many significant others’ inexplicable obsession over an extremely narrow esoteric field in an environment so alien to their own schooling/professional experiences. This is one reason I’ve heard many undergrads and even some grad students in professional oriented schools that they won’t consider dating a Phd student or an academic.

    Gaming, however, has it worse as it is deeply stigmatized by the MSM and popular perception as a timewaster at best and an incubator for future violent felons at worst.

    I can understand the timewaster part as I have seen too many classmates falling far behind in school because they spent so much time playing that their schoolwork suffered. Some games such as ultra-realistic flight sims are huge time sinks where you could easily spend 5+ hours per session. While there were many high school/college classmates who were able to play 5+ hours/day and still pull near perfect GPAs during their academic career, I knew of many more college classmates who ended up dropping out or being placed on academic suspension/expulsion due to obsessive gaming. One of my college roommates came very close to an academic suspension because of an addiction to MUDs. This is not about the games, however, but the inability/unwillingness of people to manage their gaming hobby so it does not become a detriment to other aspects of their lives.

    To see the popular perception of video games being incubators of future violent felons, one only needs to look at the biased oversimplistic coverage of Columbine and how much of the MSM made the correlation between playing Doom/DoomII and becoming a school shooter. I attended high school where 50-75% of the student body, including myself, were avidly playing Doom/DoomII and Streetfighter/StreetfighterII. By the logic of the MSM’s idiotic association of violent videogames and violence, the majority of my high school classmates and I should currently be in prison for violent felonies. As nearly all of us are in occupations/life situations where we’d be regarded as too nerdy and conformist to conventional corporate driven measures of success, the mere thought of us as hardened violent felons is enough is quite laughable.

    More importantly, the US would have far greater problems with violent felons than we currently do as they were very popular games in the mainstream computer/videogaming community throughout the 1990s.

  35. roses says:

    I’m deeply skeptical of the idea that playing video games is a bare minimum for cool.

    Among the general population, no. Among a certain subset of male geeks, yes, a girl who plays video games is the height of coolness. And there is a certain subset of female geeks who think they’re way cooler than other women – see they’re exceptional women who have male interests and are therefore superiour to women who like girlie stuff. (No, I don’t think all or most female gamers are like that, but you see a few crop up every now and then).

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  37. luzzleanne says:

    Why can’t I just play video games with my husband? Because I SUCK at them, and spending the time it would take to get better at them is pretty dispiriting, because when you lose the game after 30 seconds of play, you’re not getting anything out of it. Except frustrated.

    Sara, I think part of the issue here is that, instead of just complaining about his gaming, you actually tried to play with him. So you don’t like most of them; that’s not that big of a deal. Having different interests isn’t a bad thing so long as he’s not ignoring you for the game most times and you’re not getting angry everytime he turns on the Playstation for a couple of hours. As others have said, use the time for your own hobbies.

    As a bit of general advice, this can even be together time if your hobby can be done in the same room as the video game. Most gamers I’ve known are perfectly happy to chat if they’re not at a difficult part of the game. In my apartment at college, Roommate #1’s video game time was call for all of us to take a break from homework and pull out pleasure reading, cross-stitch, sketch pads, beads, or whatever it was we wanted to do at that moment and talk for a couple of hours while doing it.

  38. AndersH says:

    On a tangent, I’d really wish the 360 would broaden its scope a bit. I mean, there are good games of pretty much every genre, granted, but it still seems that it’s the “house that stereotypical American game industry built.” In other words, another god damn shooter. A few are okay, but come on. We need more Viva Piñata, Katamari, adventure games, something like Ico, and so on and so forth, and most importantly, the console has to reflect that kind of an attitude.
    The XBLA has a lot of cool games and boardgames, granted, but it’s still an image problem :(

  39. 1st_of_5 says:

    I just wish these insecure women would realize that they’re actually inconveniencing several other people when they drag their boyfriends away from the computer in the middle of a raid/instance.

    lol…i always make sure my guy has ‘died’ before i ask if we can do something else. seriously though, it has been an issue a few times as he’s a pretty serious gamer and i admit that the selfish part of me wishes we spent more time ‘together’. but i find that leaving him to do his thing while i occupy myself with other interests isn’t bad as long as there’s communication. i’ve tried playing a few times on a few different games, but am really not very good and just feel like the weakest link on the server. i know he enjoys playing as a social activity (as stated several times earlier on this thread) and as a de-stresser after getting home from work. true, he sometimes can be on gta4 for 5+ hours but he will usually remember there’s life outside of it with only a slight prod. =)

  40. Kelsey Jarboe says:

    I’m obsessed with Zelda: Twilight Princess, but I suck at it, and I can’t get any better because the Game Cube is at my recent ex’s house. *fume*

    But when we were dating, the best nights were frozen pizza, playing Zelda together (trading off with some back seat gaming), and snuggling.

  41. Kelsey Jarboe says:

    Also, on the “cool” question: http://www.collegehumor.com/tag:girls-play-video-games (oye)

    It seems like a popular image. Gamer guys tend to want superhawtbabez who are “masculine” enough to be interested in their hobbies but still, of course, superhawtbabez.

  42. Kristen says:

    Thene,

    It could possibly just be us…we’re both only children :) (sharing is BAD) and relatively independent.

    AndersH,

    I’d just be happy if SOME developers would refrain from changing the goddamn game after I buy it. (I’m talking about you Ubi). I like shooters…but do they ALL have to be Call of Duty clones? Can I get some variety?

    Kelsey,

    I heart twilight princess. But then…I have every single zelda game (except the ones on that panasonic platform) in the “gold” edition…and all my old consoles…which still work. So yes…I’m insane…but at least I know I’m insane.

  43. Alara Rogers says:

    I wish my husband would game more. Then he’d stop bugging me to watch anime with him, and that would free me up to write more. :-)

    I mean, I like anime, but I also like to write. And read. Yesterday he wouldn’t let me read a comic book because he was bugging me to watch anime, and since his work schedule has been insane and we haven’t had any time to spend together in two weeks, I said yes… but damn, I wanted to finish my comic book! And I can’t read a comic and a subtitled anime at the same time no matter how mad my multitasking and reading skillz are.

    Actually, the truth is, the thing I’m really losing out on is television time. Because whether my husband is gaming, doing his work (he uses the television as a giant flat screen monitor because he’s legally blind), watching yet more news and/or cable pundits, or watching a TV show, *I* am not watching shows that I like and he doesn’t (or has already seen, or doesn’t feel like watching right now). I have all of Babylon 5 and Alien Nation and Classic Star Trek on DVD, I have Jeremiah, I have some very old-school anime, I gotta watch BSG:Razor… and I never get to watch *any* of it because he hogs the television.

    Of course, when I’m home alone, I generally write instead of watching TV, so I guess I can’t be too upset about it. :-)

    As for the cultural perception that men have cool hobbies and women whine because men won’t pay attention to them because of said cool hobbies, I have never in my life had a relationship with a man, including my brothers and my dad, where they didn’t spend more time whining at me that I was doing my cool hobbies and why couldn’t I spend more time with them. (OK, my dad’s beef was that I would disappear into my bedroom and he wouldn’t even see me, but in those days my bedroom was where all my cool hobbies were.) Whether this means that men don’t like it when the shoe’s on the other foot or that I really go over the top with the whole “introverted person does their own thing” bit, I don’t know, but that woman who wrote the Salon article is from a different planet than I am as nearly as I can tell. And I wish there was more recognition that yes, it does go the other way around, yes, there is such a thing as an introverted woman who likes her own hobbies, yes, men can whine and beg and go “pay attention to meeeee” and in fact some of them are GAMERS, except right at that minute they don’t want to game, they want to bug their wife or girlfriend into putting down her hobby and doing something together.

    (While this was probably not addressed in the Salon article, I wonder how much of this cultural perception is because women resent having to do chores while men are doing cool hobbies? It’s one thing to be bored and have nothing to do while your man games; quite another if you have six things you’d rather be doing but you have dishes to wash, and he’s gaming.)

  44. Subgrrl8 says:

    It’s one thing to be bored and have nothing to do while your man games; quite another if you have six things you’d rather be doing but you have dishes to wash, and he’s gaming.

    WORD. that is a good thing to note.

    i also don’t know why there are still such cultural assumptions being made about men and women when they aren’t even somewhat true.

    i am almost-married to a gamer/coder. (we live together and have two fur babies.) but he’s not the only gamer in the house, no no no!
    he likes video games and board games like Carcassone and Trade Routes (aka Settlers or Catan). i don’t like strategy games at all, i don’t utilize that brain space well. he plays GTA- i can’t stand it. i play DDR- he’s no good at it. we both love mariokart/driving games. i like and excel at games like Bejeweled/Tetris, he’s mainly a story arc kind of guy.

    we do game together, like with Rock Band and Guiter Hero- although i do much better at them than he does- as well as MarioKart and many other Wii games.
    we also play tennis together, and basketball.

    when we met, we bonded over bowling nights and cribbage.

    gaming is a part of how we interact, though it’s just one part.
    i don’t feel like he is neglecting me when he’s playing games, because i’m usually off doing something else. he’s a long-term gamer, and i can’t stand more than an hour or so at a time. i can read for a long ass time, he not so much.

    what works for us? freakin’ communication! i ask him for his time, we make plans, and everything else is up to us to figure out. if he wants to code, he goes to his work station to free up the livingroom for me to DDR or make shit or cook or whatever i feel like doing.

    so, yeah. that’s the biggest thing that i get from these kinds of articles- it sounds like people aren’t TALKING, and when they DO, they AREN’T BEING HONEST and they certainly aren’t LISTENING to the other person.

  45. Thene says:

    Alara – I wonder how much of this cultural perception is because women resent having to do chores while men are doing cool hobbies?

    By extension; women’s free time is not as valuable or as ‘serious’ as men’s free time; any hobbies women have are ‘casual’, do not consume large tracts of time or money, and are not either ‘cool’ or worthy of analysis. Games women play are ‘casual games’, music women like is ‘casual music’, women don’t go to cons and festivals, don’t put time into learning to maintain their hobby equipment, mod their PCs and whatnot, and women should only be praised for the things they do in their free time if those things contribute to their household’s wellbeing. Am I right? :/

    Most of those sentiments only arise from misogyny, but some – games, too TIME-CONSUMING, are not COOL, make you SOLITARY when women should be devoting their time to others! – are surfacing here on this thread. :(

  46. astronautgo says:

    And Danelian, I have always wanted to get into larping. How does one find a decent community to play with? One which would be gentle and understanding towards a born noob?

    I don’t know from LARPing, but holy crap you’ve just given me the motto for my coat of arms. I think I’m going to get a “born n00b” tatto across the top of my abdomen.

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