By Rachel Phillips
As the girlfriend of a gamer, we usually are stamped with a bit of stereotype. Gamer girlfriends—by definition according to several male gamer forums—are girls who either get into gaming because we want to share something fun with our boyfriend, or we are girls that nag our boyfriend and complain about the immense amount of time spent on games and not them. I began gaming about 2 years ago, which may not make me a credible reviewer of games in general, but I know the games I do like to play. My gaming is sporadic, depending on how often I end up cohabiting with a Playstation 3, which I do not own myself. However, in my gaming I do not participate in bashing games before they come out and ruining them. For me, the cheap games provide the most entertainment.
When I began to date my boyfriend, he had just bought his PS3 after waiting in lines overnight for it. What would possess a person to do that? My first thoughts were to explore for practicality of it. Since I had never owned any gaming console (parents didn’t want us to have one), I did not understand why someone needs to be the first to get something, especially when it costs about two months of my rent. I would sit on my boyfriend’s couch, sleepily watching him play Grand Theft Auto 4 and Devil May Cry 4, bored of the carnage and slightly offended by the oversexed, useless female roles (and yes, I now recognize the exceptions to this). As my relationship with my boyfriend grew, I began to understand how the mind of a gamer worked. I discovered the wealth of gaming forums, begging for opinions to trash or vilify. Such a culture I could not compete with. So what else to you do? You join it. And so I stepped up the stereotype of the gamer girlfriend.
The first way to break the stereotype was to play games that were single-player; games that did not include my boyfriend. I loved to play with him, but if I was to become a real gamer, I had to play on my own. My first game was Super Stardust HD. This had both a one-player and a two-player mode, enabling me to play it on my own and as a game to play with others. As soon as I was getting good (relative term…) at it, I was introduced the Super Puzzle Fighter Turbo HD Remix. Again, this game had multi-player options. This time, my prowess was credibly amazing. I will challenge any self-professed lifelong gamer to this game and beat them into the dirt. With one hand. Don’t believe me? Seriously, try it.
After my initial two games, I was reluctant to try a new one when I hadn’t perfected the old ones—another gamer quality that I needed to conquer. Although I believe that this one is also shared by hardcore gamers that are loyal to a particular game. I started to branch out into other small games that I could find downloaded onto my boyfriend’s PS3. I gifted him a PSEYE and had downloaded some games that involved it. I had a lot of fun experiments with Trials of Topoc until my new attachment happened: PixelJunk Monsters. This game seriously transformed me into a gamer. I played this game until I beat it and beat it again. My boyfriend and I would play the two-player level and develop our relationship into a new area: discussing games together. No longer did I play games to please him. I was playing for myself and in doing that, it gave us something new to do together and another thing in common. I became a peer in his world. PixelJunk Monsters made me follow the Q-Games company for new PixelJunk games. PixelJunk Eden became another addicting game for me. The introduction of trophies game my boyfriend and I a bit of friendly competition for the games that we both played. Now we eagerly await the new unnamed PixelJunk game.
Since then, I have extended my knowledge to other consoles, particularly the PSP. I played and beat Patapon last summer and am really excited for Patapon 2, which hopefully will have a more satisfying end. This is the console that also proved that I could game on my own.
As much as I have improved, I still do not understand the “must-buy-today” mentality of the hardcore gamer. I still see the practical side of buying a game. You only play it for about 2 weeks, wait 3 days until the rental store gets it and rent it for two weeks. You save money. A lot of money. That could get you things like rent, food, gas, necessities. Apologies, gamers. I’m trying to understand. But before you scoff at the gamer girlfriend, remember, we aren’t so bad. Having a girlfriend in gaming can give you a bond that you didn’t realize you could have. Invite her to join you, instead of steam about her walking in front of your game. You may just create a new gamer. I am not a gamer’s girlfriend, the girlfriend of a gamer. I am a gamer girlfriend, a girlfriend who games. And thank you for asking. I will happily join your world.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Philips.
About the Author: Rachel Phillips is an Elder-Geek who currently attends Grand Valley State University. She is in her final year of Elementary Education with a dual major in Integrated sciences and English Language Arts. Rachel is a self identified classic “Gamer’s Girlfriend” who started off with more fun casual games, and has gradually progressed to the more hardcore world of Geekdom. She is also a living breathing Tolkien Encyclopedia and has read each of the Lord of the Rings books at least ten times. Go ahead and try to stump her, you can’t. This is her second article for Elder-Geek.com.