12 June 2015

Of Becoming a Nerd

Some nights I am a Twi'lek Jedi. But I've been a Wookie Tank, a Bothan Assasin and an Elf Healer. At least that's who I roll the dice for.

And the honest truth: I have a lot of fun.

You need to understand, though, before I was married I didn't know what any of that meant (okay, let's be honest, I still had to ask my husband what those Star Wars characters were called as I wrote this post, because I still don't have a clue). I was a nerd, by some standards, but not a gaming nerd.

At least not outside of Life, Uno, or any other standard family games. I loved party games - Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, Cranium. Those were my jam.

Dungeon crawls, MMO's, RPG's? I neither knew, nor wanted to know what any of it meant or how it worked. Because didn't it involve getting super into an other-worldly character and hiding in your mom's basement with potato chips and energy drinks?

The sad truth, though, was I married a gamer. One who knew what all of those nerdy things meant. And thrived on them. One who knew what the next gaming console was going to be, when it would be released, and every game he wanted for it. But he couldn't tell you my favorite flower.

And I was ready to make him choose his time wisely - I was the wife who helped my brand new husband draw up a signed contract regarding how much time he would spend playing video games so I didn't get left by the wayside. Because am I not more fascinating than a tv screen or computer monitor filled with digital creatures of evil?

But I had a friend who did things differently. She's the type of friend who prepares for each new stage in life by gleaning wisdom from anyone who can offer valuable insight. She not only accepts advice, she seeks it out. I am not that way. But I so appreciate being friends with someone who is (because then I don't have to humble myself by admitting I need help, as she just shares all her well-sought knowledge with me without my having to ask. Because friends are awesome).

Before she was ever married,in an effort to aid her relationship with someone of the male persuasion she, wisely, sat down with a male friend who gave her this advice: "Women relate by talking. Men relate by playing. If you want to relate to your man, play with him."

So, when she was married a few short weeks after we were, rather than throwing down an ultimatum to limit his video-game nerd-dom, she sat down and watched him play. She took it in, learned the dynamics, offered helfpul (maybe undesired?) suggestions and helped Link find every Rupee on the way to Zelda's castle. She played alongside him (in a one person game, that's the best you can hope for).

And I started to think differently about how I approached my own husband's interests. After all, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

So I sat down at his computer, overlooking the World of Warcraft, and I became a Night Elf. And it was kind of fun. I joined a guild, I increased my abilities. I made it level 20 and felt like I was amazing (for the record, it's not, but to a newbie like me, it might as well have been the black belt of WoW).

But even more than opening the doors to new worlds, I opened the doors to our relationships. Instead of rolling my eyes at his descriptions of his latest exploits, I could honestly congratulate him for the succes in his latest raid, because I knew what that meant. I could understand why he said he couldn't pause his game to come help me in the kitchen that moment (because you really can't, or you die, and it's so annoying to get your spirit back to your body, seriously), but he would get to a safe place as soon as he could so I could have his full attention.

From there, I discovered card games, strategy games, miniatures and more. I'm still not hard-core. I play the games he's excited about, but I don't go out of my way to investigate the latest in nerd news.

I go out of my way to take an interest in him. And to relate to him.

So I play.

But I don't just sit down grudgingly, because I'm not under-achiever, and because I've honestly come to enjoy finding line of sight to kill his Storm Troopers. I play to win. And sometimes I do.

But win or lose, we're spending time together and I know he's proud that I'm trying. And I know he feels loved. So it's always a win.

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