So You Found Yourself a Gamer.
Congratulations, you’ve joined the ranks of people with significant others who like to play role-playing games. Unfortunately, he or she won’t limit this activity to private time in the bedroom. They invite over a half-dozen friends who take over the kitchen table, or sprawl all over the living room floor with books and maps and pointy dice to waylay bare feet, preventing any access to the TV for hour after hour.
While the gaming community still includes a large number of young people, it’s definitely not just the province of kids. These days there are a lot of couples who have to deal with the side effects of this time consuming hobby. Many married couples play together with other couples who also play. Often one memberf or the other just isn’t interested. Maybe you can’t get psyched up for a four-hour session of let’s pretend involving unicorns and dragons or spaceships and aliens. So what’s a grown-up to do while the children play?
I’ve seen this problem a lot through the years. While there’s no universal solution, here are a few suggestions to try and limit the strain gaming can cause on a mixed couple’s relationship.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Have you tried it? If not, drop your inhibitions for a while and watch his eyes light up — when you start rolling dice. For some of us, this is the ultimate solution. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy it, it does get you involved in something your SO enjoys. He will spend hours with you talking about your character, her background and history, her skills and powers, options for her advancement…and somewhere in there, you might realize that the topic is tolerable, or maybe even get him to talk about something you do like.
The catch: some gaming groups just suck. If all they’re doing is going from one kill-and-loot to another with no real plot and no character development that doesn’t involve numbers, then you’re doomed. Try a few times to introduce a little ROLE-play into their roll-playing. If that won’t work, just tell them you can’t stomach the in(s)anity and move on to the next option.
Set up a space. Make a dip. Serve punch. Then park amongst them and chat.
Seriously, if you’re the type who can enjoy (or even stand) this, it can make you feel less like an outsider. You might find out the group is happy to have you there. They might even talk about something other than which prestige class they want.
The catch: The group may relegate you to the status of waitress. They may not have the capacity to talk about anything other than the game, and even if they can, they may be focused and not want to. Remember, for a lot of these guys, this Saturday afternoon once a month (or whatever) is the only time they get to pursue the only hobby they love. Those guys may not want to waste time talking about an impending nuclear attack, let alone anything as irrelevant (to them) as politics or religion or whatever YOU like.
Go Somewhere Else.
While the guys come over and kill things at your house, just leave. Go shopping, see a movie, get some exercise. If you aren’t in the house, you won’t hear them talking about spell resistance or initiative or anything else that would make you want to remove their teeth with a potato peeler.
If there are several of you, maybe the girls could all get together. Make a day of it while the guys are doing their thing — and please realize I use the pronouns stereotypically. There are boyfriends of girls who play D&D, and they can be the worst. If your sweetie (guy or gal) plays with people whose spouses and lovers don’t want to participate, it might be worth making that Saturday afternoon the time all the SO’s go for dinner and a movie. Make fun of the gamers collectively.
For those with kids, there’s even the option of taking turns watching them. If four of you have children, maybe one can watch the bunch while the others get some off-time. If you can stand being the one now and then, it’ll buy you three turns with time to yourself.
The catch: don’t let it make you feel they’re pushing you out. If you spend the whole time you’re out fuming about having been evicted you’re just going to come home mad. Your poor geek will be left wondering what he did. If he’s the sensitive type, he’ll assume it’s his fault. You’ll leave him wondering if he must choose between his favorite hobby and you. Remember, he’s been gaming for years. He has more hours invested in his character than in you. His character doesn’t make him choose, so you’ll be the bad guy, and it’s all downhill from there.
Make THEM Go.
Sometimes you just need to walk around your own house topless in your granny panties with a cucumber-melon mask and unshaved legs. Have them meet at Bob’s house this time. We can all make the sacrifice once every six times around, but the other five can get the hell out. Enjoy some peace and quiet, get drunk and dance, or just read that book you’ve been looking forward to. The house is yours, at least for the afternoon.
The catch: Some gamers don’t just play for three or four hours and call it a night. Our group used to start Friday afternoon and catch a nap Sunday morning before pizza and a climactic battle. If your sweeite goes away for his game, don’t get your undies bunched if he’s not home by dark.