Gaming with a Spouse: Recipe for Disaster?

There’s an interesting, first-person essay type article on Kotaku OZ by a female gamer entitled, “How Diablo III Told Me My Marriage Was Over.” It’s not the “he played 12 hours a day and ignored me” thing I was expecting either. It’s much more of a personal and heart-felt essay about the dying dregs of a marriage, and how they used to game together but not any more, and their last chance was with Diablo III, and then launch night came, and… well, here’s the quote:

I made my gal a Demon Hunter named Ariadne (named after my similarly classed WoW toon), he got started with a Barbarian, and off we went.

Since I’d already done all of this before, I was directing things pretty well, but trying not to be too overbearing about it. It was, in my opinion, so, so cute to see my husband so excited about exploring New Tristram. We went on for about an hour, and then it happened.

He let me die.

In co-op, enemies scale with you and the size of your group. When I had played before, there wasn’t much of a problem (with the exception of that damn Skeleton King) because my enemies were scaled for a singleplayer game.

So, here we are, fighting our way through the very beginning of Act I and we separate and all of a sudden I manage to aggro everything in a pretty large radius and I don’t know how that happened and they’re attacking and oh my god sweetie I don’t wanna die hey can you help me they’re killing me um seriously can you help because I can’t get range and I’m mostly good for range attacks and… dead.

He let me die. In a room where we would often simultaneously play our respective MMOs with chairs sitting literally next to one another and desks that were touching, he let me die.

With me verbally asking for help, he still let me die.

Yes, it’s just a game. Yes, I could come right back to life and keep going (and I did). But I still cried that night before I went to bed because he. Let. Me. Die.

That’s just a tiny piece of the whole article, which is worth a read. That said, I’m more curious about the larger issue of gaming with a significant other. How many of you guys/girls have gamed with your partner? Diablo III? Do you feel it works in your relationship?

Basic Instructions source.
Personally, I’d say not really. Years ago I played Diablo II with a girlfriend who was a gamer, and our co-op was never a very good fit. I’d played tons more D2 than she had so I tended to just fly through everything, while she wanted to go more slowly and appreciate the experience. So when we played at my pace she felt pressured and hurried, and at her pace I felt bored. In the years since then, none of my GFs have been gamers (though one in late 2009 was delighted when I showed her the Flux NPC in TL1), and that’s actually fine with me. It’s good to have some separate hobbies.

Playing together seems a good idea in theory, but in practice it’s often a great way to focus awkward and uncomfortable attention on the differences in your personality types, rather than bridging you with a shared experience. (Which is basically what happened in the article quoted above.)

That said, I know a lot of people who met their partners via online gaming, or who enjoy gaming together in the same WoW party. How about it? Any tips or advice for those of us who have had less delightful co-op experiences? Is a party-dependent game like WoW better for couples to play together than a more free-for-all type experience like D3?

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25 thoughts on “Gaming with a Spouse: Recipe for Disaster?

  1. I had the same experience as the author. It doesn’t really work when both individuals are not on the same skill level or prefer to do things in different fashions.

    Gaming is a personal thing. It’s hard to make it work out for both players.

  2. I have played video games with my girlfriend(now Fiance) for more than 5 years now. She wasn’t a gamer until she started playing with me. It started with WoW. I guess at times we both got frustrated with each other, but overall we have had great times playing together in WoW, other games, and now D3 also.

    We don’t play together every time that we are playing. She does her own thing, and I do my own thing. In fact, for a lot of the time in WoW we weren’t even in the same guild. We both allow for the other to participate in the aspects of the game that they enjoy most. I mostly did arenas and raids in WoW, where as she mostly enjoyed mount/achievement collecting. Sometimes we would do these things on our own, and sometimes we would do them together. She enjoys me teaching her the more “hardcore” aspects of gaming, while still holding her casual playstyle. On the other hand, I have had a lot of fun tackling achievements with her, something I would likely never do alone.

    Gaming together doesn’t ruin relationships. Poor communication and other relational problems do.

    • Yeah, games don’t destroy relationships. It already has to be going bad for that to happen.

      My wife and I game. She got me into GW1, when I was playing D2 exclusively.

      Now we dabble in GW2; its great. We’re both casual and we just have fun.

      She won’t touch D3, so I use that as my hardcore game.

    • Agreed. My husband and I played D1 and D2 together, and we’re still playing D3. Fortunately, we agree that “a clean dungeon is a happy dungeon”, so we happily poke through every corner (even in the Keep Depths) 😀 So I say, if your play-styles are compatible, go for it.

  3. Honestly, I’m surprised it made it as far as standing around letting her character die; I think in her place I would have thrown in the towel when he said she didn’t deserve to play, myself.

  4. I would file for a divorce immediately.

    If I were him.
    What a whinny bitch! No wonder he let her die.

  5. She admits she cheated on him and yet seemed upset that their relationship ended over a video game. If she was a respectable woman she would have ended the relationship before she started cheating.

  6. LOL quite a funny one this one. I think its ok to game with the spouse, or not to. I do not think that is the problem here.

    More like this chick has more than a few screws loose… lol.

  7. This can’t be real. But if it is, a man has to learn the golden rule “never stick your dick in crazy”. That guy will hopefully never do so again.

  8. I game with my fiance all the time, generally I would say we have a better relationship for it. It’s another thing we can do in our downtime together and outside of a few specific times we’ve always had fun. We can get a little competitive sometimes though, that doesn’t always end well 😛

  9. I play a lot with my wife, and it works just fine. Of course there is a little adjustment to be made in playstyle between solo and party – but that is the same adjustment You have to make regardless of whom You are playing with.

    I’ve played in several public games where there are one or two that totally ignores the party and go of on their own path. That is simply boring and not how You should play in a party. If You don’t want to follow the party – then play solo!

  10. Revealing personal problems to thousands of absolute strangers( and internet gamers, of all people ). I’ve got a feeling the woman wouldn’t be out of her element on something like jerry springer.

  11. No comments. Counselor > video games, for theraphy. If she doesn’t want to see one, she should at least get some Pink Floyd songs and start from there.

    (PS: Read the whole thing, not only the excerpt. It-gets-worse…)

  12. I’m a DH and my friend who I’ve played the most coop with is a barb and let me tell you… should have made a monk. DH+Barb are anti-synergistic and you never want to play together… DH needs to kill all the trash to survive (or did at the beginning of the game before they nerfed it too much) and barb needs it around to leech. It’s horribly counterproductive. And yes I realize no one asked for advice.

  13. I stopped reading at the point where she admits cheating on him for a year. That’s where this story should have began and have finished.

    • Best I recall from skimming the piece, she said like 9 months after they broke up she was celebrating her one-year with her new guy. So she was shopping around at the end before D3 killed her marriage, but not for a full year.

      And who knows what her hubby was doing; the piece is a bit schizophrenic with fragments of their personal stuff scattered through the gaming stuff, but obviously the relationship was ending and both partners were spending time apart. She mentions the husband staying out at the gym until after midnight most nights; bet he was doing more than lifting weights in all those hours.

      That aside, it’s why I tried to use this piece as an intro into talking about the general issue of gaming with a spouse… because the OP is wacky and divisive and a full discussion of the piece, by a largely male audience, will just result in the sort of nasty comments about the author we see in some of the comments here. Which the piece might deserve, but it’s not really our purpose or goal on this site.

  14. I love how she cheats on her husband, yet we have to feel sympathy for her because.. wait for it, her husband let her die in a videogame.

  15. I can see both sides of the situation, but judging her based on the limited knowledge gathered from the write-up… I don’t know.

    When relationships goes, there’s almost always a million reasons for it, whether they’re valid or not. ‘He let me die in a computer game’ may seem silly to most, but she could be at a point where the fact that he wouldn’t even help her in a game, would be the straw that broke the camels back.
    She cheated on him – but why did she do that? Was it her that just wanted something extra on the side, or was it neglegt from him? It’s not for me to try and work out that answer, but there’s much more to this story than any of us will ever know.

    My wife and I are very very different and it shows in our gaming as well. But instead of trying to force it to work, we accept each others differences and get the most out of it, in other ways. In WoW, for instance, she’s got the patience to sit and fish for hours; something I could never get myself to do – but I level characters very fast and tradeskills as well, so we both benefit from eachothers playstyle. She gathers the mats, and I make stuff out of it for both of us.

    When it comes to relationships, I think far too few people are prepared to admit when things aren’t working. I’m not saying that trying to make things work is a bad thing, but if you’re trying to fix the train, when it’s the rail causing the de-railing, then you’ll never get further. Sometimes, however painful it might be, it’s better just to cut the losses and give both a chance to get on with their lives.

  16. I read and commented on this article when it got first posted on kotaku.
    I don’t want to get banned here, so I’ll just say this woman is a gigantic idiot.

  17. wtf -_- Woman – if you express your frustration blaming a stupid game over some other problems you have in your relationship that is really sad. D3 and you dieing in it has NOTHINg to do with your problems, you crying etc.
    Wake up! -_-

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