Playing video games is a passion of mine. On a near daily basis I read previews, news articles, and opinion pieces related to video games. My wife and I do a lot of things together, but playing games wasn’t one of them. That has begun to change.
The Long Journey
So what exactly is the long journey? For me the long journey is about the experiences and stories related to getting my wife into video games. That doesn’t mean that on occasion she’ll watch me play a round of Halo or buy me a video game. What I mean is that she can play alongside me and even buy games that she wants to play. For the foreseeable future I will be writing about my wife’s foray into video games. From 2D Sidescrollers to first person shooters. I want her to experience it all.
First off this is a community of gamers. Going up to strangers and seeking advice or providing input into their lives can seem a little off-putting. What is the point of reading about me getting my wife into games if you don’t know us? Where is the draw in that? Over time as we listen to the XONEBROS podcast we gain a sense of friendship and insight into the lives of the bros. As you contribute to the forums, play games with fellow members and chat in discord; this really does feel like a community. In order to understand the long journey better, I want to tell you a little bit about us.
Let’s call my wife Mrs. Zoolabus. The suburbs of Kansas City are where we both grew up. After graduating high school I attended the University of Arkansas where I earned a degree in Computer Science. Upon completion of my bachelor’s degree I immediately enrolled in the graduate program for Computer Science. Meanwhile, the Mrs. was attending Pharmacy school at the University of Kansas. After completing her degree she began working for Walgreens.
The Mrs and I met in the June of 2014 at the Westport Beer Festival in Kansas City, MO. Normally, this isn’t in the place you would find your future wife, however; for us it turned out to be the perfect place.
Kansas City was my home for the summer. I was working as an intern for Cerner, a healthcare IT company. She had just begun working at Walgreens as a Pharmacist. We talked, flirted and I eventually got her phone number. It was our passion for beer that first brought us together, a passion we continue to share. Over the course of that summer we continued to see each other as often as her busy work schedule would allow.
When summer was coming to an end I didn’t want the relationship to end. She was amazing. I couldn’t go back to school knowing that I had let her slip through my grasp. Luckily, she agreed to continue dating, albeit long distance. Long distance relationships are difficult. If you have ever been in one you know exactly what I am talking about. You talk on the phone, skype, text and do whatever it takes to keep in touch. As soon as you see your significant other in person it is all eyes on them. We would spend almost every other weekend together. She would drive to Arkansas and I would drive up to Kansas City. When we saw each other we did things we both enjoyed: going for walks, seeing movies, hanging out with friends, and much more.
Dating long distance doesn’t provide an opportunity to see the other person in their normal day to day activities. I don’t spend everyday going for walks or seeing movies. I wasn’t always having friends over or going out. During the times we spent together everything was planned. She didn’t get to see that games were a part of my life. She didn’t get to see me playing online with friends and taking down dragons in Skyrim. She didn’t get to see how much I truly enjoy gaming. In the Spring of 2015 I asked her to marry me and of course she said yes.
After completing my graduate degree in May of 2015 I moved to Austin, TX. The Mrs. followed me down a month later. Bucking what has become a trend we decided to live in our own apartments. She had never lived alone. Not once. After finishing school she moved back in with her parents so that she could pay off her student loans as quickly as possible. When she agreed to move to Austin with me I thought it was important for her to live alone, so that she could experience that. It just seems like something everyone should do at least once in their life. It is both a freeing experience and one that makes you realize how much you cherish those around you.
When we picked out apartments I went with the cheap-o one that had a dog park and was within fifteen minutes of work. Of course she went with the nicer upscale apartment surrounded by all of the shopping she could ever want. We lived about eight minutes apart.
My wife didn’t have a set schedule. She would work at random stores across the Austin Metro and on occasion at stores hours away. Her hours weren’t 9-5. Sometimes she worked 2-10 and other days she would work 8-4.
Having dated long distance for the first year of our relationship plu this odd schedule meant that we spent every minute together that we could (we had plenty of time to make up for). That pretty much always meant that I would go over to her place since there was more to do surrounding it. There were bars, shops, restaurants and even a movie theater. In all of this, she didn’t really get to see my gaming habits as much. Things began to become clearer over time. She began to notice when she would call me after her shifts that I would be playing Xbox.
At one point she offered to buy an Xbox so that we could play together (I should have said do it) but I decided against it because we needed to save up for our wedding.
After spending a year in Austin we were finally married in June of 2016. A week before the wedding we moved into our house together. This was the first time we had lived together and boy was it exciting. You never truly learn how picky you are about certain things until you live with someone else. Both of us have become better people for it.
One thing became immediately clear to her: I loved video games. She would often get home from working the late shift to see me upstairs playing Rocket League online with one of her bridesmaid’s husband. She would hear me having conversations with friends about upcoming game releases or see me on my phone browsing gaming articles from various sites. I even caught her watching me play a few times.
Her Gaming History
While we were dating long distance she mentioned playing Call of Duty on their Nintendo Wii. At that point in time she had never really shown me she played games and I didn’t believe that she had actually played COD (one of her sisters later confirmed this to be true). Over the past few months more and more of her gaming history has come to light. Growing up she owned a Nintendo 64 (I really need to ask who got it for her). She is one of three girls so it is pretty interesting that she had an N64. She remembers playing Banjo Kazooie and Golden Eye when she was growing up. Her idea of games used to be classic arcade games like Galaga or Pac-Man.
Easing Her Back In
Shortly after we were married I tried to get her into Rayman Legends. The game was sitting on my Xbox as a platformer I thought I might enjoy playing with a friend. We started up a new game and she quickly became frustrated. It wasn’t with the game, it was with me. I was taken aback by this. What did I do wrong? I was playing too fast. Press A to jump, X to attack, and so on. I didn’t even need to see the tutorial to have an idea of the controls. I was just jumping around doing things she didn’t understand. It frustrated her. I slowed down and let her lead but this just led to more frustration. “You aren’t trying!”, she would say.
I felt like I was stuck. I couldn’t play the way I knew how and if I tried to slow down it upset her. Rayman just wasn’t the game I needed to get her started. We tried a few Lego games and still didn’t have any luck. Then one day she said she wanted to play my Xbox. I was surprised she said she wanted to play. Something had caught her eye in my pinned games section.
All it took was was Banjo and his pal Kazooie. Those too animals with their “guuhuh” and pooping eggs had hooked her. When she saw that I owned the game she was exhilarated. It was bringing back childhood memories. She remembered being able to play the game as a kid and knew this was something she could tackle. She jumped back into it and boy was it rough at first. It was like watching your grandmother use the computer mouse for the first time (it wasn’t really that bad). Click on the icon that looks like a globe grandma, that will open up the internet browser.
At first it didn’t seem like she would get very far into the game but damn are collecting items addicting or what. She would have full health but would go collect the honeycomb (health pieces) that she didn’t need because she had to collect everything. At no point did I expect that she would enjoy playing games. I never thought I could get her into them but she has gotten into Banjo.
But then came the damn crocodile. I thought the jerk would cause the whole castle to crumble. There is a swamp level in the game where Mumbo turns you into a little crocodile. This allows you to explore the swamp without getting hurt by the water. In the middle of the map is a giant crocodile head with wide open nostrils. Inside you can find a bigger croc named Mr. Vile. He is the meanest croc of them all. If you want the Jiggy you have to beat himi not once or twice, but three times. Each time you play the game it gets progressively harder. When you lose the mini-game he bites you and you lose two health pieces. She has probably lost about 30+ times.
I have never heard her get upset at a video game before. Mr. Vile almost ended the long journey before it even began. She was obsessed with trying to beat him but she couldn’t. She read tips online and watched videos but still couldn’t beat him. All it took was me pointing out something she hadn’t seen before to make her temporarily forget about Mr. Vile.
In a little over a month she has put nearly ten hours into the game. She has collected over 500 musical notes and 30 plus puzzle pieces. Gruntilda better watch out because the Mrs. is coming for her. Mr. Vile remains undefeated and his jiggy still belongs to him, but it may not remain with him for much longer. Things that used to challenge her in the game are starting to become easier, like swimming into walls and getting stuck.
She is beginning to understand my passion and was wanting to join in. A few weeks ago I told her I was going to bed and she said okay, you go to bed while I stay up and play Banjo. I woke up a few hours later to find her asleep next time. Mr. Vile had once again ended her gaming for the evening. For Christmas this year she got me Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We all know that she is the one that really wanted the game (she mentioned wanting to play it a few weeks before Christmas). We booted up the game the other day and ran into the same issue we had with Rayman Legends and the other Lego games. Things get way too hectic way too fast in those games.
She wanted to be eased in and letting her play the game alone may do the trick. My goal during the month of January is for her to finish Banjo Kazooie and to begin tackling Lego Star Wars. Over the past month of watching her play Banjo I have learned to keep my mouth shut and let her play. When she needs help she will ask for it and under no circumstances am I to play under her game save.
Hopefully I will be able to provide monthly updates on her progress. This ongoing article series will provide an opportunity for the entire community to see the growth of a gamer. I don’t believe that I can do this alone. That’s where I ask you to share your story and advice on how you got your significant other into gaming.
Author Ben Gooding
Some say he likes to eat both the right and left Twix. Some say his favorite Star Wars movie is A Phantom Menace. All we know is we call him Zoolabus. You can follow him on Twitter @TheZoolabus, on Xbox @Zoolabus and his adorable dog on Instagram @ScarlettMaeCav.