My Wife as a Gamer

Gaming was initially not part of my life with my then-girlfriend when we started going out. We met over the internet and first talked about comic books and music. Our first date was to see “The Fellowship of the Ring” back in 2001 on its opening night. We actually met the night before our date and watched “Dark Crystal”. A mutual love of fantasy was already out there in the open.

The Games Begin

The first summer of going out my future mother-in-law returned from Comic Con with a gift for me: the 5th Edition Warhammer boxed set featuring the Empire versus the Orcs. I believe by that time we were already playing other sorts of games such as HeroClix. I was very excited when my wife seemed to be making a Warhammer army. She had four Orc Boar Boyz and was given some Goblins.

She accompanied me to my first Games Day L.A., which only further piqued her interest in the Warhammer hobby. Together we painted figures at the paint-and-take, browsed the Golden Demon entries, listened to Gavin Thorpe explain some rules changes, and enjoyed the mayhem.

Painting miniatures turned out to be too time-consuming though. The scale of large Warhammer battles just doesn’t hold her interest. What did was joining her brothers, her cousin, and myself on World of Warcraft.

Video Games

This was at the time of Burning Crusade. She enjoyed herb-gathering and exploring Azeroth. I really enjoyed having a second account and dual-playing on both computers when she wasn’t around. Sometimes this ate into her own time. I was trying to level up a priest on her account so that the priest could follow my characters around and do heals on them. “Her” priest leveled faster by having my mage follow her around doing Arcane Bursts and other AoEs.

Sadly, WoW ended for us when I tried to cancel one of the accounts to get the cheaper offer that Blizzard had offered before when i closed an account. There was no cheaper offer, so I canceled the second account as well. The only other video game that we have played together is Justice League Heroes on Playstation 2. Did I mention that she loves comics and the Flash?We played QUITE a lot of it, beating it two times through, stopping midway through our third go round. My Xbox360? Not as much interest.

Back to Tabletop Games

About two years ago my wife showed interest in playing D&D. 4th Edition was fairly new. I had bought a Player’s Handbook for a campaign I was playing in. We worked through the new character generation and soon Tekla was born.Tekla was a rogue who went by the thief name Wisp in the back alleys of Westgate. At first our game only had her as the player with her completing thieving missions, battling giant centipedes, rats, and the filthy advances of Night Masks, Fire Knives, and Ebon Paws. It later grew to be a family campaign with my in-laws and my wife’s cousin and her husband playing.

Her interests have not stopped there. In the years since going to Games Day and a Strategicon with her, I purchased some Karmans for AT-43. She loves the gorillas, loves the Yetis’ plastic see-through helmets, and says that they’re “so cool”. They remind her of Flash’s nemesis, Gorilla Grodd. We have yet to play a game, but she’s looking forward to playing on my Martian boards from Terranscapes.

The Karmans’ appeal is also in their novelty. For the same reason, the Skaven for Warhammer Fantasy have warped her heart. However she would like them more if they looked like the cute mice from Mouseguard. Who knows what sort of furry cuddly army is in her future and mine?

The Best Strategy in Gaming

Many gamers spend hours optimizing their army lists to get the most out of them or carefully planning and saving for that GenCon trip. Many gamers also spend hours arguing with girlfriends or wives about their hobby, its costs, and how they spend their time. Perhaps one of the most basic things a gamer should do is find a good partner (and spouse eventually) who supports and nurtures their interests. While I know several other couples that have even stronger shared gaming habits, I feel very fortunate this Valentine’s Day to have my wife and to be able to enjoy gaming with her.

How Not to Win Her Over This Valentine’s: Throwing Games

My Disenchanting Magic: The Gathering Losses

Once upon a time, in 2001, I was seeing a girl. While we shared some of the same musical and movie interests, her love of anime far exceeded my own. We watched show after show together, OAV after OAV. At some point though, yearning to game, I taught her how to play Magic: The Gathering.

We spent many pleasant hours playing the game. Since I taught her and we were restricted to my selection of cards, the games were relatively even in deck building, with the advantage going to me of experience. I don’t build powerful competitive decks; I tend towards weenie decks without the cards to even level the field (like Wrath of God or Armageddon). I love building empires of Thrall tokens or Saprolings. While she never quite adopted my fondness for creating armies of tokens, she also would delay the kill in favor of drawing more cards.

All of our Magic playing though came crashing to a halt one day when I revealed that I had thrown a few games. I don’t recall why I felt it neccesary to reveal that fact,. Most likely, my ego was wounded. The effect was immediate and chilling: no more MTG games for us. Most of her victories were legitimate. The relationship eventually ended, though I really don’t think my Magic blunder was the source. I didn’t turn her off of Magic: The Gathering entirely. She emailed me months later revealing that she’d bought her own cards and now kept a Serra Angel of some sort in her wallet.

Why did I throw the games? My overall aim in losing the few games I deliberately lost was to make Magic more enjoyable for her. She would be more likely to play if she won more often. This seemed to be verified by her increased interest in playing after she had won. In my experience, very few people have the mental stamina to constantly lose games and quickly want to move onto something they’re better at. There is a large philosophical debate as far as game demoing goes as to whether you let the person trying your game out win or not. Most demo teams side towards letting the newbie enjoy the thrill of winning because they’re more likely to get into the game that way. When I’m playing a demo game, I want the opposite: the full experience and intellect of my opponent against me. Yes, victory is nice, but I need to see how challenging the game will be.

History Repeats Itself: Heroclix

Fast forward a year or two and I was playing Heroclix with my eventual wife. We played fairly often, even bringing some pieces and a map on a trip with us. After one loss to her when she began to gloat, I let it slip that I had let her win. It was the truth. I had wanted her to remain interested in the game. She would only beat me 2 out of 10 times and was showing signs of disinterest. Overall, my decision to throw the game (and reveal this to her) was a horrible strategy. She and I have not played Heroclix since.

Old habits die hard. Whether with a love interest or just a friend, you may want to think twice before deliberately losing in order to win him or her over. Or just keep your mouth shut.