How to Turn your Significant Other into a Gamer Mom

You’ve met the love of your life but she isn’t a gamer. Gasp! But wait, don’t throw in the towel yet. Just follow these easy steps and you can transform her into a Gamer Mom.

Step 1: Knock her up. 

Okay, kidding. I’m hoping you all know the multitude of ways that we can become mothers. This post won’t cover that but there’s tons of info all over the internet on that topic if you want to do your own research.

What I’m going to help with is the gamer part.

Also note: I will use the pronouns she/her in this article but these approaches can be used for significant others of any gender, whether they are kidless or kiddled(?).

Why do you want your significant other to game?

Is it because you want to share your love of video games with the person you love?

To help her find a new hobby or way to unwind?

Are you thinking it would be nice to collapse on the couch after a long day and play something cooperative (or competitive) with each other?

Or, do you want her to like video games so she’ll stop nagging you to turn your game off? So she’ll leave you alone while you play video games all day instead of helping with the kids or chores?

As some of you may know, I’m pregnant with kid #2. I like to sign up for the baby websites that send you weekly updates about what your little grape/squash/watermelon (or GameBoy/Kirby/Xbox) is doing in there. These websites also have very active user forums. The board I’m on currently for women due in April has over 30,000 users. Just those of us due in April 2020!

A post I see with some regularity is one where a pregnant woman complains about her other half and their video game playing. Usually these posts go something like this: “He comes home from work and games until 4 am and then he sleeps until noon and he never plays with the baby or helps with dinner.” They usually also include detailed plans to destroy consoles or even leave the relationship if the situation doesn’t change.

And honestly, even as a gamer, I can see that many of the complaints are justified.

Video games are appealing because they are an escape. They can be simple and mindless or designed to draw us into their depths. They give us an opportunity to achieve, accomplish, and level up that we don’t often experience in daily real life. They reward our base impulses and instincts, with trophies and stat points and gold.

Sure, we grind in video games, but it’s not exactly the same kind of daily monotony we experience with work and chores and family obligations. But I’d also argue that the rewards in real-life are greater (healthy, happy relationships and families).

I confess that sometimes when I could be focused on my toddler or being otherwise productive, I’ll sneak out the Switch for a quick game. My partner does too. And we try to mutually support each other when we need a break from reality.

The point I’m getting at here is that you should think about why you want your partner to play video games. There’s a lot of advice already out there about how to get your wife/girlfriend to play video games. Some of it is helpful and some of it is downright unhealthy (scorekeeping, selfish behaviors). If you step back, you can tell the difference with one simple question:

Is it her best interests or yours that you have in mind?

Your intentions are going to be apparent very quickly, and she’s never going to fall for it. And if you succeed at getting her into gaming, that might mean even less game time for you, so be ready.

The Steps

1. Have her backseat game

Who hates spoilers?

I do, with the burning passion of a thousand suns.

Have you ever tried to look up the next step in that complicated RPG and inadvertently read how the game ends? The worst. I know backseat gaming can be as bad as spoilers (because backseat gamers are usually the first to yell out a spoiler), but, while another gamer might criticize your approach or your technique, a non-gamer isn’t going to have that same perspective. 

You can have your significant other be the one to check the forum or the FAQ for the next step without risk. And chances are she’s not going to notice or care how you’re playing. 

Be very clear in describing what you’ve done so far, so she knows where to start reading. She can say keywords to help figure out where you are before launching into the full guide. Or have her start at the top of the FAQ to be extra safe. 

Backseat gaming with your significant other can make her feel more involved and turn a one-player game into a two-player experience. This step is about involving her in video games without expecting her to play them.

2. Make sure it’s as fun to watch as it is to play

What types of other entertainment does she enjoy? When she’s reading a book or watching a show or movie, what does she gravitate to?

If you know what she likes, play games that are similar. Modern games tend to have more detailed story lines that can be enjoyed even if you aren’t the person holding the controller. The Youtube channel Girlfriend Reviews is about exactly this.

There are games that are funny, unintentionally funny, and downright cinematic. Personally for me, horror games are the easiest to get into as a spectator.

Even though I play video games, I frequently make my husband take the controls for the scarier games. I love horror games but I am literally the worst at first-person shooters.

I first realized this when playing GoldenEye 64. I would get stuck jumping up and down in a corner before blowing myself up with my own grenade. Actually, when I was younger I think I did eventually get quite good at GoldenEye (mostly by cheating and looking at where my brother was hiding on his half of the screen).

My husband is the reverse, pretty decent at FPSs but not much for horror games. Anyway, I love the genre and suck at the controls. Which is why my scaredy-cat husband plays games like Outlast and Soma, while I hide under a blanket and squeal nearby.

3. Work together as a team

So she’s ready to pick up the controller and try some games? Again, a great way to make gaming fun is to make it quality time together. There are a lot of couch co-op games you can try, but be careful not to pick games that will end up with you yelling at each other. Overcooked almost ended my marriage (My husband does not do well when faced with a countdown timer).

Source: Wikimedia

Fighting games can be fun, especially if button mashing is a viable tactic. Nothing makes you feel like a real gamer quite like busting out a sweet hadouken (even if you don’t know how you did it).

Just make sure that if you’re going to Smash you’re on the same team.

I’m not suggesting that you “go easy” on your partner either, because that’s annoying and condescending. But it’s also frustrating than being new to fighting or FPS games getting destroyed every time. That’s going to make her turn off the game. The best way to avoid it is to play as a team.

Some of my favorite games for people who don’t play are Nintendo games, like Mario Party 8. And those Wii rail shooters are great because they blend the fun of watching a horror game with simple controls – point and shoot (but unfortunately a very neglected genre for console gaming).

4. Find games that she’ll enjoy

Now that she’s having fun gaming, she’s probably ready to explore some solo games. Time to make some recommendations. Obviously let her check our your collection and try anything she’s drawn too. But if you’re a big FPS or bullet hell gamer, what you have might not be the best starting place.

You could go back to retro games, where the controls are simpler, but often the difficulty level is ramped up on those (Little Nemo…). And if you don’t have nostalgia upping the love, these games can be a bit tedious and dull (I said it!).

Also, I hate when I see generic advice like “Girls like Sims. Girls like Animal Crossing.” Hopefully you know your significant other better than almost anyone, so you’re going to know if she is going to love that type of game (which a lot of people do) or if she’s going to be more interested in a visual novel or adventure/puzzle or shooter.

It’s weird though, sometimes the games that I think I will like the most, I don’t. And then I get completely surprised by a game that draws me in unexpectedly (Slay the Spire, 999, Fallout).

If you’re at a complete loss, Michelle over at A Geek Girl’s Guide posted a great series recommending games based on Myers Briggs personality types, and I thought they were spot on. Check them out here.

Just be ready to move on if you try something and she doesn’t like it. Having a spouse who plays video games doesn’t mean she’s going to like the same ones as you.

5. Help her find the time

Oh, the mom guilt. I don’t know where the pressure comes from but when I sit down to enjoy myself I cant help but make a mental list of all the chores I should be doing instead.

There was one day I came home from work and my husband had made dinner and did the dishes and handed me the PS4 controller. Heaven. 

If you want your wife to play video games, remind her that it’s okay to prioritize herself every once in a while. And help her make it happen.

Hope you all find this advice helpful! And if you have any other suggestions, share them below!

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