Couples that play together, stay together
I’m not sure who said that, but I’m bias in believing it’s legit. Mrs. Gnome and I have been together for almost a decade and in that time I’ve watched the love of my life blossom from a PSOne Legends of Dragoon player into a Doritos-eating, Mountain Dew-drinking, foul-mouthed gremlin of sorts. I say this lovingly as there is no one I’d rather have on my Overwatch team than her piloting D.Va and saving my aloof ass from oncoming threats.
TV is a thing of the past for us and we even rotate which video streaming service we’ll use for the next few months because our main interest and activity as a couple is gaming.
The Struggle of Balancing Love of Another and Love of Games
Our current relationship status should be documented under “Relationship Goals.” We play games together almost every single day and our relationship is all the better for it. It’s a shared interest that we both enjoy and it allows for us to spend more quality time together instead of playing individual games in individual locations in the house.
Our blissful gaming experiences, however, didn’t start this way. In fact, it’s taken us years to find the perfect games that balance our interests, abilities, and preferences.
The first game we tried using in order to spend more time together was World of Warcraft. I used to play WoW 5-10 hours per day, five days per week, every week of the year since 2005. I spent more time playing that game and much less time with my partner. This was a problem. I recognized it, she recognized it, and so I thought of a crazy, selfish idea that would allow me to combine to two things I loved: the girl and the game.
It’s okay to assume that that was an utter disaster: because it was exactly utterly disastrous. Our playing styles were just too different. I prefer end-game content which requires long-term dedication, planning, and practice; whereas, she prefers exploration, story, and the freedom to do whatever the hell she wants. We could barely stand to complete quests together because I was organized, goal-oriented, and wanted to skip all the talking parts while she wanted to take her time and smell the digital roses. That’s not to say she was a bad player, quite the opposite in fact! Looking back, I can admire her ability to make the game a unique experience for her as a solo player. She was able to play one character, obtain rare items, and gather every single one of those awesome spirit pets that I am still jealous of today. She put the legwork in and built an amazing character, complete with backstory, personality, and far more depth than I’d ever placed on mine.
Still, World of Warcraft wasn’t for us. I still play, she still plays, but we aren’t even on the same server anymore and that is entirely okay! Thankfully, there are a plethora of other games out there.
Board Games Are a Couple’s Best Friend
If you take a few moments to sift through Reddit or The Board Game Geek forums, you’ll find yourself some fantastic new tabletop games to play for two people! Even some 3-4 player games can still be managed by two people doubling up on roles and that’s exactly what we do! Dead of Winter, Arkham Horror, and Mice & Mystics are just a few of the games we enjoy playing and conversing over while having dinner.
Now, I highly recommend co-op games. Competitive games like Magic the Gathering or Carcassone can stir up unnecessary arguments over a game. Sure, competitive games are great for improving critical thinking skills, but when you want a chill evening after a long day at work, I don’t recommend breaking out Monopoly.
Instead, try games like Lost Cities or our personal favorite, Elder Sign. Yes, yes, we know it’s not really a 2-player game, but it can be! Doubling up on character roles and working together to plan out moves makes the game that much more fun! With it’s high level of replayability and expansions, Elder Sign is definitely a date night favorite for the Gnomes!
Speaking of gnomes, roleplaying games are incredibly rewarding when you play with your special someone. Creating worlds, being any kind of creature ever imaginable, overcoming real-time problems, and occasionally poisoning each other from time to time in a fictional, fantasy world is a great way to continue building and exploring your relationship! Mrs. Gnome and I play a tabletop version of Dungeons & Dragons with some friends once a month and are part of another D&D group online using Roll20. There are many nights we spend snuggled on the couch with reference books and notebooks open while discussing world-building, character creation, background stories or events, or even writing about games/characters/worlds we don’t yet play in! D&D allows us to bond in a way so specifically unique to our relationship that it’s difficult explaining to family why we’re busy on the weekends! It’s our favorite social activity together, but it’s not the only game we actively play as a couple.
The Recipe For an Everlasting Recipe is Two Controllers
There is one very specific rule when playing games with your significant other: HAVE TWO CONTROLLERS! If you’re fortunate enough, two systems, two TVs, and two games are even better, but we just don’t have the funds to splurge on a luxury like that! But, and let me be very clear: two controllers.
If you’ve ever grown up with siblings, you know damn well that having only one controller was the absolute bane of your parental unit’s existence. Cut the drama and conflict out immediately and just get a second controller!
A second controller allows us to play cooperatively in games. One of our favorites is Minecraft! Yes, we can play Minecraft on PC, but we actually both prefer the simplicity of it on the PS4 and the ability to be all cute and snuggly on the couch together. Minecraft can have multiple players in a split screen with one console. It’s perfect for our creative minds. Together, we spend hours gathering resources and exploring the randomly generated maps while building tiny little homes, gardens, and then somehow destroying it all (usually I’m the one that breaks things and she’s the one building really pretty things).
Minecraft is a way for us to not only play a game, but actively engage each other in deep conversation. It’s a great way to just unwind from a stressful day, talk about work, friends, politics, religion, other games… The game is simply relaxing and not as demanding as other games, so more attention is given willingly and lovingly to each other while offering us a creative outlet.
We haven’t played Minecraft in quite some time, unfortunately, but there’s a really good and even better reason: Overwatch.
Neither of us are FPS players, typically (the major exception is L4D, I love that game and you can’t take that from me!), but we’ve found a common interest in Blizzard’s larger-than-life, objective-based shooter game. The biggest drawback with this amazingly well-developed game is the lack of a split screen option so we’re reduced to that horrible thing called sharing. UGH gross! But seriously, Overwatch is basically the bread and butter of our relationship as gamers. Every night after work we kick back and enjoy several rounds of butt-kicking action.
I’ve watched my wife grow from this quiet, calm, inquisitive, and highly creative being into a ferocious, angry, cursing, shouting troglodyte during matches and I think she’s all the more beautiful for it. Between the meta, the eSports, and arguably the greatest fandom of all time, Overwatch is just one of those magical games we play together that makes us forget all of the terrible things that come with being an adult. We simply have fun. Together. For hours at a time every single night. We laugh more, we talk more, we troll more and that is all very healthy for keeping a relationship alive. If there’s one game you should consider adding to your library for date night, Overwatch is definitely it!
Always Explore, Together
Just because you haven’t found the perfect game for you and your partner doesn’t mean it isn’t out there! It’s worth putting in the effort and trying out new things together even if they end up as failures. You are still gaming with your loved one, still sharing quality time together, and you’ll always have something to talk about. Do not be discouraged and keep exploring together. I’ve come to believe that love is a game with constant patch updates: some are bad, some are good, but the game is always changing. Exploring those changes with your significant other make the experience that much more enjoyable.
Is there a game you and your significant other play together? We’re always looking for new games, so leave a comment below!