A Game by any other name...

I've been with my girlfriend for almost 3 years now; and while we are both gamers and nerds, we are very different breeds within that species. I am a tabletop gamer, raised on games such as Warhammer, Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons and Dragons, while she is a Video Gamer raised on Mario Bros 3, Extreme G2, and Smash Bros. We talk about these passions in very different ways, and it often feels like we don't even speak the same language.

For how much she is a dedicated acolyte of the Video Game lifestyle, she wasn't exposed to the same types of Video Games I had as a child. I was raised in a very abnormally geeky household, my father brought home Civlization and Diablo, and I was exposed to strategy and roleplaying as if they were the foundation of Video Game culture as they were for tabletop gaming. She was introduced to video games through her cousins and friends and father, all of whom preferred more kinetic experiences such as the heart-pounding speeds in Extreme G2, and the constant action of Smash Bros.

I experienced Video Games first, but as I was introduced to more tabletop games, I merely saw video games as an extension of those games; I even played the Civilization Board Game, and was introduced to D&D Video Games fairly early on (Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale come to mind). This has had a very distinct effect on how I perceive games and gaming; when someone says "Game" my mind doesn't automatically jump to Final Fantasy or Diablo, I go to Catan, Dead of Winter, and Netrunner.

Kristina is the opposite, in her mind when someone mentions a game night, she has visions of Smashing some Bros, or co-opping some Orcs Must Die, or even playing some casual games of League of Legends. It might feel like a small difference, but to two people who are so passionate about their breed of games as are we, the struggle can be quite real.

I don't get as much time to play games as I used to these days. It was my own fault for starting this website, but it really takes away about 80% of the time I would spend with friends slinging cards around a table. I work a full-time job and during my evenings I have to try and balance spending time with Kris and working on the website, which leaves much less time for going out and running the 'nets. The balance has been difficult to find, because any time I mention that I'd like to play more games, she looks at my like I have two heads and tells me that she is more than happy to play all the games I want! What is wrong with me, not appreciating this valuable resource sitting beside me on the couch...

The problem stems from the fact that she thinks I am talking about booting up the PS3 or loading up an MMO on the desktop; while I mean shuffling up some decks of cards or placing meeples around a tile map. This is where the main thrust of the issues come in - we each love gaming more than most things (more than the average person, to be sure), but we mean different things by the word.

What about you? What do you mean when you think of the word "game"? There is nothing more that I would love than to connect with Kris on this very fundamental level, but I pull out a board game (usually the wrong one, to start with), and she looks longingly at the PC; I get some card games out, and she gives me the evil eye while joysticking and L2ing her way past the next boss in Diablo 3. This isn't a dire disconect, becuase I love video games too, and as I introduce her to more tabletop games, she is beginning to embrace them... but we just conceptualize games in very different ways.

This isn't a piece looking for advice, I know the solution is just to continue along the same path. I'll keep introducing her to more tabletop games (she's enjoying Game of Thrones 2nd Edition right now), and I'll keep enjoying the Video Games to which she introduces me. Mostly I just wanted to spur some discussion - is our situation unique?

Do you tend to date people who are the same type of gamer as you? I've dated non-gamers before, and that usually just winds up being a disaster. Your mileage may vary.

If you've got experience dating non-gamers or even just people who are different types of gamer from you, please leave a comment below, and let's get this conversation started. I know we all have stories to share, I'd like to read some of yours!

Until next time, thanks for reading, and always be gaming,

Matt