Monday, January 05, 2009
Let me back up a little bit. I bought my PS3 early last Spring after we got ourselves a new widescreen TV. After an extended hiatus from video games, I was back on board with a bright, shiny, new console. But even though I bought Grand Theft Auto IV right away and spent the rest of 2008 grappling with PixelJunk Monsters, PixelJunk Eden and Bionic Commando: Rearmed, my gaming habits were still very much in the background. Part of this was Mako's work schedule which allowed me time to play before she got home, but mostly it was the nature of those games. I don't want to get into the whole "casual vs hardcore" nonsense that surrounds video game culture right now, but all of those titles I mentioned are extremely easy to pick up or put down. A spare twenty or even ten minutes is all I need to get a satisfying dose. I suspect that was a big reason I never fully embraced the impressive GTAIV because I was unwilling (or unable) to really commit an evening to the story and the lengthy gameplay sessions that go with it.
In the last week, however, a new development has come up: Resistance 2. Richard bought me the game as a Christmas present while getting a copy for himself because the game has been lauded for its online cooperative mode. Up to eight people can join together and fight hordes of monsters and the catch is that the gameplay is centered around teamwork. By that, I mean that each player chooses one of three different units (soldier, medic, special ops) and they must work together to survive - no unit is strong enough to fight alone. As a game enthusiast who has always resisted online competitive battles because I'm not good enough to defeat strangers, the opportunity to really be part of a team and fill a specific role was instantly appealing. There's also an RPG element to the game as your chosen unit will gain experience and "level up" as you play. After just one session, even though we failed, I was hooked.
As you might already suspect, a team-based eight-player cooperative shooter does not allow for quick sessions. Between starting the game, logging onto the network, joining a party of my friends, and finding an available session (or starting one of our own), that's at least six or seven minutes. Finishing one stage takes at least fifteen minutes and can easily take much, much longer. Gaining enough experience to level up takes even longer still: on one late-night session I spent three hours on the game and I only advanced one level during that time.
Even though I tend to play when Mako is out or asleep, she has taken notice of my sudden interest in this game and the PS3 in general. I can understand her reservations and her surprise, because this is the first time in our entire relationship that I've exhibited this kind of behavior. What I can't understand is her reaction - it varies between silent rage and self-doubt. For some reason she seems to feel threatened by my interest in games. She has accused me of playing "nothing but games" on a day where we spent hours together shopping at the mall, eating lunch and watching a Keanu Reeves movie just because she loves him (spoiler alert: it's not too good). She has actually asked me whether I love the PS3 more than her - or the baby. She wants to know if I will ignore our future infant's needs because I'm playing a video game. No amount of reassurance or denials on my part seems to persuade her otherwise.
From my perspective, I feel unfairly pressured by all her dramatic behavior. I recognize that too much game playing is a selfish dick move in a small apartment with one TV that must be shared (regardless of our marital status), but despite her hyperbole this game is not dominating my time or infringing on the attention I spend on her. Most of my playtime has come when Mako is asleep, and when she is awake I always ask her if she minds if I play before turning on the machine. What I've learned is that even when she says "Yes" she sometimes means "No." I really don't appreciate the deception or the notion that playing a game is somehow "wrong" instead of watching TV or using the Internet, our usual nighttime activities.
Obviously, this is a new issue and things will take time to settle. No major action is needed and no confrontations are forthcoming. We're just going to have to wait and see how this matter resolves. The only thing that worries me is this sensation I have that she doesn't even want to talk about the problem and that's a much bigger problem than anything that's happened thus far.
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