GWJ Community, help me!
So I recently got married and have been enjoying a marital bliss. It's pretty awesome, and we agree about most things. But recently, gaming has driven a wedge in our relationship. I want to know how other gamers with disapproving wives make gaming work within the context of a marriage.
THE SHORT VERSION:
My wife disapproves of my video game playing, and I've voluntarily agreed to stop playing at all in the short term until we can really talk about it. At this conversation, she wants to present an argument as to why videogames are not inherently evil/pointless/wasteful and why they are worth playing at all. HELP!
THE LONG VERSION:
During our dating relationship, I learned that TMEW (the most excellent wife) wasn't really a video game player. The only times she's ever seen me playing games other than phone games were at parties where Rock Band was happening. She will usually refuse to play, but after a drink or two can be occasionally be talked into playing guitar for a song on No Fail Mode. Other than this, she enjoys playing Tetris on her phone but feels incredibly guilty about it and dislikes all other games.
She grew up without a television or computer in a very conservative, technophobic family. Because of this, she is VERY sensitive to violence, sexuality and vulgarity. We're both teachers, and she talked a great deal about how she thinks harmful video games influence her middle school students, most of who have little to no parental supervision. For the most part, I agreed with her that incredibly adult video games without any parental influence are generally a bad thing (but let's not go off on a big tangent here, that's not the point). Other than that, we didn't talk about them much, and honestly, I haven't played much since we started dating a long while back (maybe 3 hours a week, generally PC gaming. My 360 hasn't been used for anything other than Rock Band in over a year).
Since we got married, however, we've been having bigger and bigger conflicts about video gaming. There are several things she says about gaming that I agree with, and several things that she says that I disagree with.
POINTS OF AGREEMENT:
Videogames can be addictive and can detract from the limited time we have (we're both graduate students, work full time as public school teachers, and actively participate in our church).
When I'm engrossed in something (be it games, books, projects, or anything else), I can be unresponsive to her and her needs.
As a home that we share, if there are particular games that she disapproves of due to incredibly violent or sexual content, they shouldn't be in our house.
We should be free to spend leisure time as we wish, provided our partner doesn't view said activity with intense disapproval.
Kids should not be playing incredibly explicit games.
POINTS OF DISAGREEMENT:
Video gaming is an inherently anti-social enterprise.
Video gaming produces socially maladjusted individuals, and most adult gamers are "basement dwellers."
Video gaming is a waste of time.
Video gaming is a childish enterprise that most adults find infantile.
Video gaming isn't fun, just addictive.
Video gaming is an escapist (in the bad sense of the word) enterprise in a way that books or movies aren't.
All games have objectionable content.
We've had a few big fights over this issue, mostly because she asked what I did that morning or at some point, and I honestly responded that I played videogames. She doesn't want to issue an ultimatum and say that I CANNOT play video games, but whenever I do play games (about once every two weeks, generally in the mornings before work), she asks about it. I'm not going to lie about it, so she finds out and gets angry. That leads us to the situation we're in now.
Of my own volition (she hasn't forced me into it), I have voluntarily given up games, and will not play until we discuss this issue and find an approach that works for both of us. She's been reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and has encountered a passage talking about conflict resolution. It mentions that parties resolve situations with a win-win solution, win-lose situation, or lose-lose situation, and she herself has said that this is probably a win-lose situation, which generally leads to discontent for both parties in the long term. She said that she wants me to present a convincing argument as to why videogames are worthwhile and why I should spend my time playing them.
Should she remain unconvinced, gaming and I will go our separate ways. I'll probably get really into sports or something. *shudder*
Have any of you been in a similar position? Does anyone have any points I can make in gaming's defense? What about particular games that might convince her of their worth or at least their innocuousness?
The wife and I had a long discussion last night, and I think we got to root of the issue. She's very sensitive to violence. She watches no television, rarely watches movies, and usually turns them off if there's a violent scene. Many people have a violence threshold over which media is unacceptable. I think I'm probably a bit more sensitive to violence than the average gamer (I had to stop playing Gears a while back because the behavior of people in pub games, combined with the graphic violence, unsettled me), but her threshold is near the bottom. Essentially, her tolerance threshold for violence is zero.Like I mentioned earlier, she grew up without television in a family that was strongly pacifistic, and I think it's really shaped her thinking. Because of this, ANY violence makes her uncomfortable, and graphic violence is repulsive to her.
In the end, I think it's going to work out. She acknowledged that she has a specific beef with video games that she doesn't have with other media because an overwhelming majority of the video games she's seen are focused on violent resolution to conflict. Furthermore, given a video game and a movie with similar levels of violence, the video game is more offensive to her because of the agency and interactivity. She had never seen non-violent video games other than Wii games or mobile, so I think I'll have to show her some puzzle games or SimCity style games to show her the types of games I intend to play.
Although I did play my fair share of violent FPS games in the past (anyone remember Soldier of Fortune and Quarantine?), the majority of my gaming in the last few years has been less violent and more nerdy: dirty hippie indie games like Sleep is Death, Dwarf Fortress, roguelikes, Interactive Fiction games (think Zork), Civ 4, Puzzle Quest, Star Control 2 (UQM), Space Rangers 2 and it's ilk, Bioware games (probably the most violent things I play), any space sims I can find, a fair number of RPG and strategy games on the DS like Puzzle Quest, and lots and lots of Rock Band.
We're going to talk again later to discuss specific terms, such as the times when it's okay for me to play and times when it isn't, with the understanding that I won't be playing graphically violent games. Is my threshold of violence at the same place as hers? Absolutely not. Do I think it's fair for her to dictate that certain leisure media are okay and others aren't? Absolutely not. Will there be video games I want to play in the future that have more violence than she's comfortable with? It's almost a certainty. But I do think that she should have a say in what specific games within that medium are good or not good to play. As to how much say she has, that will be something we need to hammer out. Also, she acknowledged that the road goes both ways. If there are behaviors she engages in that I find morally objectionable, I have a voice in that area. I'm not naive enough to think that this will be the last conflict that we have on this matter, but I think it may be the biggest, and it will likely be the conflict that sets the tone for future conflicts.
The most important thing, I think, was HOW we discussed it. We both realized we had some misconceptions about each other's positions (I think I overstated her revulsion for the people who play video games and understated her revulsion for violence), and we both tried to understand each other. It made a big deal that I've never been dishonest and when I said I wouldn't play video games until we reached a compromise, I stayed true to my word. We were both willing to concede things and make concessions to reach a compromise. In the long run, this may not even rank on the list of biggest conflicts we encounter, so I think we may look back on it and laugh at how serious we thought it all was. But the way we resolve it may determine or at least presage the way we resolve bigger conflicts. So in my mind, out of this unfavorable situation, positive outcomes resulted.
In related news, anyone have any non-violent game recommendations for wussy PCs or 360? I'll be shopping soon