The significance of Cooperative gaming in a relationship

A mutual hobby is an important thing for a relationship. It not only gives a couple more to talk about, but it gives them something to do together, something with which to share and experience as a couple. In my relationship, I am lucky enough to share gaming with my partner. It wasn’t something that happened from the very start however; instead, she grew to love video games over time.

When we first met, three years ago in high school, we got on well and experienced all the usual beginnings of a relationship and what-not. However, one thing that really bothered me at the time was her gaming–she played the Sims, as well as the Wii occasionally, and that was kind of it. I know, I know, gamer compatibility is a seemingly silly thing to be concerned about in a relationship; what’s more important is trust, understanding and blar-di-blar-di-blar.

What concerned me is that she didn’t consider gaming to be something of substance, something more than simply an enjoyable hobby to pass the time. I always felt a little silly at the idea of bringing it up, as the topic of whether gaming is just a time-waster or something to enrich your experiences in life is still a rather controversial topic. It was hardly a problem that risked the relationship or damaged her in my eyes, but it did mean that I had to share the experiences of my gaming with only my friends and not the one person I felt most in tune with. This bothered me doubly so because we didn’t really share many interests as far as hobbies go: we didn’t really like the same music, we differed in our opinion of books and she loved watching Soaps and I… well, I hated them. It was a good relationship, but we had little in the way of mutual interests, and that was something that would grow to be a problem.

I felt often that we needed something to connect together with, something to share on a personal level. I often vaguely tried to push games her way in an attempt to share my love of video games, hoping she’d suddenly change her mind about gaming in general. I attempted to go the steadfast route of introducing her to classics like Mario or Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but unfortunately she was a little resistant. I was at a bit of a loss, and I resolved that perhaps you didn’t always need mutual interests, that the relationship would be fine without them.

Our relationship stayed strong, thankfully, but I always had that doubt that we weren’t as close as we could be. Eventually, however, a game was discovered that changed the way we interacted as a couple for the better: Stronghold 2, a medieval castle RTS. My girlfriend found it and, knowing my appreciation for medieval games in general, bought it for me. I loved it, and I must have left it at her house by accident at some point because she installed it, gave it a try, and luckily something clicked: she loved it as well. We would trade it back and forth to play, eventually with her buying her own copy. We attempted to play over multiplayer, but the quality of said multiplayer was poor, often resulting in random crashes.

The single-player was what really drew us in however, with the two of us comparing how fast we could complete the individual levels and sharing hints, as well as the both of us promising each other not to look at and cheat. I finally felt like we had something to share, something that would bring us together; I felt foolish thinking that playing a medieval Real-Time Strategy game could make us a stronger couple, so I never really brought up my relief that we’d found the game. However, as games do, it petered out; I discovered the other titles of the series – Stronghold, Stronghold: Crusader and the rather… poorly handled Stronghold Kingdoms MMO (then again, maybe I just sucked at it) – and she moved on. I assumed that that was it, gaming together wasn’t going to be something long lasting and the Stronghold series was merely a fling.

Somehow, Stronghold led me to the classic city-builder game ‘Pharaoh’ by Impressions Games, which received the same treatment as Stronghold. We competed and gamed even more; I confess to checking gamefaqs regularly for Pharaoh though, much to my shame. The game reached its end for us and was eventually not played anymore; it seemed that, once again, that was it.

However, the prospect of gaming together had finally become appealing; with the two of us discussing what game we should play next. We were limited in that we lived apart from one another and still attended high school. Not really too long later however, we moved in together to attend University a while away from home. Upon discovering that I now lived without the influence of parents, thus meaning I could buy any games I wanted – as well as cook bacon whenever I wanted – I bought games left, right and center. One game we ended up buying was Plants vs. Zombies.

Plants vs. Zombies is an interesting game that combines silly humour, zombies, semi-sentient plants that shoot things and tower defense. This game changed my relationship for the better. It is perhaps a silly concept that a measly Popcap game can help a relationship, but it really did. We bought it because it had the little tag of co-op under the game capabilities, and because my girlfriend thought it looked cute. We decided to give it a try the next day and played it. And played it. And played it. We started playing at 4:30pm, turned around and realized that it was 3am. We had been playing for about half a day. We missed a meal, and we never, ever miss a meal.

After 3 days of playing, we had finished the adventure mode of the game, playing together, arguing mildly over who collects the sun, who monitors the defense, and who picks up the coins. We loved it. We finished the game and discovered there was still a puzzle section, a mini-game section, a Zen-garden to cultivate and a survival section. As I write this now, she is playing survival again, many months after originally playing. Gaming together had become a new hobby, something that we went to as a default when we wanted to do something as a couple. It ceased to be something to fill the time and evolved into a joy that we shared.

This has taught me that a mutual love of video games is a great thing in a relationship. It not only gives you something more to talk about, but it also allows you to connect on a completely new level. Forgive me for sounding like some new age psychologist, but it does help. I once spoke to a concert pianist, and when questioned about his wife, who is also a musician, he explained that the two of them are able to speak to each other on a totally different wavelength than other couples, as they understand the effect music has on them personally and psychologically. The same goes with video games. Experiencing an emotional journey when exposed to games, for whatever reason, becomes a lot easier when you have someone who understands to share it with.

My girlfriend still doesn’t play all the games that I do. She doesn’t find Mount & Blade enjoyable, nor does she appreciate Red Dead Redemption in all its glory (she forgets its name and calls it ‘Red Shaw Redemption’). However, I know that she now appreciates games a lot more than she used to thanks to our bonding over them, and this made our relationship stronger, more secure and all-round better thanks to games like Stronghold and Plants vs. Zombies. She even plays GTA now, how cool is that?


  1. McBeeferton

    Ah, I could never be with someone who doesn’t enjoy video games just a little. It’s my primary interest! I could go on and on talking about video games and many aspects of it. If someone can’t share that with me, then… I don’t even know why I would be with them!

    • Sam Eskenazi

      I would’ve said the same thing, but it doesn’t always work out like that! Sometimes you just fall for someone regardless of their video game habits 😛

      Like I said in the article, it was starting to become a problem that we didn’t share video gaming, and who knows where the relationship would be now without us discovering gaming together?