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Things Your Significant Other Never Gets About Gaming

Video games are great, aren't they? There's something for pretty much any mood you're in. If you're feeling competitive, you can jump into a frantic match of Apex Legends, or take on all comers in Tetris 99. If you're feeling a little more relaxed, you can play a walking simulator like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture or Virginia. If you want some story and some action, there are always games like Uncharted waiting for you.

You're already a fan, so you're able to understand why so many people play games. But there's a good chance you've had — or currently have — a significant other who doesn't understand why that's a thing you like doing. Despite the stereotypes, it's not a matter of gender — no matter who you are or who you're with, an imbalance of interest in gaming can strike anywhere. And sometimes, that can be a problem.

It's not their fault, really. Maybe they just weren't exposed to them as much. Or maybe they got caught up in the way society at large long treated video games. Whatever the case may be, games aren't an activity they put on a level playing field with other forms of entertainment. Below, we dive into what doesn't always click, and what you can do about it.

Here are the things your significant other might never get about gaming.

You can't hear them with your headset on

There's nothing like getting lost in a great game. And it's even better when every single sense is wrapped up in the experience. A gaming headset can help you hear every footstep and every explosion. It can help the game's soundtrack pop. And if you spend the money on a suitable set of cans, you'll even be able to block out those outside distractions like kids running around, dogs barking, or sirens speeding by outside.

Your significant other, however, might not enjoy the noise-cancelling qualities of your headset — particularly if they need you for something.

You'll often find that your partner doesn't quite understand that, while wearing your headset, you can't always hear what's going on around you. They might become frustrated when you fail to respond. But the truth is, unless they're right next to you, their voice is often blocked out entirely. What's meant to be a feature that enhances your video game immersion can almost instantly get you in hot water if you're wearing it at the wrong time.

In this case, we hear you. And we can relate.

No, you're not ignoring them

Sometimes, though, you don't even need a headset to get caught up in a gaming moment. There are occasions where you'll find yourself locked in, hanging on every single second of what's happening, whether it's character dialogue in an interesting video game story or the action of a high-skill multiplayer match. You can multitask in these situations to a point. But it's really difficult.

And to your significant other, it'll almost always look like you're ignoring them.

Are you? Of course not. But your brain is doing a lot of parsing in that period of time. You might be trying to hear your partner while also taking in a fleeting cutscene. Or you could be trying to respond while also sprinting, sliding, and pulling off that should-be-impossible sniper shot against an opponent. You're distracted, but you're attempting to maneuver these communicative Rubik's Cube rows into the correct order.

At some point, however, you're going to mess this up. Your best bet is to take the L and pay full attention to your partner.

You can't pause the game

Video games have come a long way, particularly in the age of the internet. Couch co-op shows up less and less in today's titles. More games have now moved their multiplayer modes online. And many video game worlds are always-living, always-connected spaces that keep on moving regardless of whether you're logged in or not. Your enemies don't care one iota if you've stepped away to use the restroom, or if you're getting a snack from the kitchen.

Or if your partner needs a hand with something.

Chances are, you're not playing on the old-school Nintendo Entertainment System, a console with games that could almost always be paused. If you're in the middle of a Destiny 2 strike, or an intense round of Overwatch, the game will keep on rolling without you. It may sound like the world's lamest excuse if you tell your significant other that it's literally impossible to pause the game. But in this day and age, it's often true!

Your best bet here is to just show them. Hit the start button, let the menu sit for a moment, and then go back to the game and show them that things didn't stay entirely still while you were gone. Maybe then they'll understand.

You'd love to, but tonight is raid night

There's something magnificent about playing a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (or MMORPG). Such titles can bring players together from all over the world, encouraging them to talk with one another and devise strategies to defeat difficult enemies. Coordination is key, and depending on how tough the activity is, groups can sometimes spend hours trying to beat a boss.

Because of the time investment required, getting a bunch of players together can sometimes be a challenge. Which is why your significant other might not understand the five-hour video game window you've carved out on a Friday night.

Yes, you could cancel on your guild in order to attend that group date night with your partner and IRL friends. But that would be a jerk move. It's tough to find a replacement raider on such short notice. And those players — quite often friends of yours, as well — have also set aside that time to complete an activity with you. If you're able to secure yourself a me-night that is totally off limits to other outings, your problem will be solved.

If your partner thinks your video games are getting in the way of your relationship, though, you might have other issues to work out.

You *are* hanging out with your friends

And really, why should you have to choose some of your friends over others, just because you happen to be meeting up with them in person versus the technological marvel that is voice chat? The men and women you play video games with online could be those you've gone to high school with, or they could be brand new friends you've developed over long nights of playing rocket-car soccer or shooting aliens.

Your partner might not see it this way, but those you link up with for multiplayer fun are just as much your friends as those you go to the bar with. Think about it this way: are those who live halfway across the country not your friends because you only speak with them on Facebook? Are those you share jokes with on Twitter not your pals because they don't live in the same town as you? Is a phone call with a distant relative less worthwhile because you're not seeing them? Of course not.

Draw a line from one of those examples to the folks you play games with online and perhaps your significant other will start to see things your way.

Video games are a perfectly acceptable hobby

You should stop reading that book about that large whale because it's frying your brain. Oh, and while you're at it, why don't you put down those crochet hooks and go outside? Actually, you're spending an awful lot of time outside running. Maybe you should pick up something intellectually challenging, like a puzzle. Or maybe something that makes you think and improves your coordination at the same time.

You won't catch a lot of the above flack for many other hobbies. But for some reason, your partner might feel that video games have no redeeming qualities.

Whether it's the fault of the '90s console war or overblown gamer tropes — or both — video games catch a bad rap when it comes to the types of activities people partake in. You've probably heard some of the common lines. Gamers are losers who don't have jobs. They live in their parents' basement. Et cetera, et cetera. Quite remarkably, though, you wouldn't hear many insults hurled at those who read a lot of books, or those who take in a lot of cinema, or those who go to a lot of concerts.

Again, if you can point to a hobby your significant other enjoys and help them understand that you enjoy yours just as much, it might help them relate.

If they play on your account, they'll ruin your K/D

You might be one of those fortunate souls with a partner who doesn't look down on your hobby, but instead, shows interest. That's great! Helping someone discover what their favorite genres are and getting to experience a game with them is always a fun journey. And if you can get them hooked enough, they might start to open up and better understand why you enjoy the medium so much. And then you can set them up with their own online account, and...

"Wait, why can't I play on your account?" they might ask. And that's when you'll have to navigate a minefield.

You could come right out and explain that you've worked long and hard to raise your K/D in that first-person shooter. But you run the risk of coming off as insulting, as though you're insinuating that you're better than them, and that you don't trust your partner to keep your rank intact. In this case, you're better off avoiding that topic altogether. Instead, talk about how satisfying it is to earn achievements and trophies, and that you wouldn't want to rob your significant other of that experience.

That'll hopefully do the trick.

Yes, you're taking off work for a game launch

Have you ever lined up for a blockbuster midnight movie release? There's nothing like it. You know you're among fellow fans — those who are braving whatever the weather might be to see the new Star Wars film as soon as it comes out. And if you're experiencing the event with friends, it's a memory that'll stick with you long after the other audience members have vacated their seats.

Major video game releases are celebrated in much the same way. But your significant other might think it's a little weird that you're taking a day off work to play Xbox.

You might do this with the latest entry in a beloved franchise — say, the newest Halo title or the latest World of Warcraft expansion. Taking off work to play a game is something you don't typically do, but you and your online buddies might make a pact to all call in sick when the next Destiny content drop hits. It's as much about getting to experience what's new in your favorite series as it is hanging out. And it's something your partner might relate to more closely if you make the above movie comparison, or if they've, for instance, taken a day off to go to a concert out of town.

Like so many game-related things that don't make sense to them, if you can find the parallels between gaming and their own activities, that might help.

Video game stories can be incredibly confusing

Let's be honest: some video game stories are almost impossible to follow. You can follow the plot of the movie pretty easily, unless it's terribly written. The story begins, builds, hits a climax, and coasts to its conclusion. And that usually happens over the course of two hours or less.

Video games, however, can be 40-to-50-hour ordeals. And if those games span multiple entries in a series, good luck trying to explain to your significant other what's going on.

The truth is, it's a pretty normal thing for gamers to play games that they don't fully understand. Ask any Kingdom Hearts fan to explain the series timeline and you're bound to get some blank stares. Inquire about the plot of the Metal Gear Solid franchise and some might admit that they were totally lost after the first game. Find someone who plays The Legend of Zelda games and they might not even know that there was a Hyrule Historia tying all the entries together.

Games are unique in that you can still enjoy the gameplay of a title without having a real grasp on the narrative. So, if your partner wonders why you're playing something you can't explain, just tell them it's because you're having fun anyway.

Some games make very stereotypical assumptions

We spoke a bit earlier about how, more often than not, video games catch a lot of hell for being a primitive activity. If you're a devoted chess player, you're a strategist — a thinker. If you play a real-time strategy game on your PlayStation 4, you're essentially a bum. It's a rather unfair societal stereotype, but to be frank, it hasn't been helped by many video games and the marketing they use to sell to their audiences.

Some video games play into stereotypes that many wish they didn't. And there's a good chance that, if your partner sees you playing one of these games, they'll lump you right in there, too.

So no, not every gamer who enjoys Dead or Alive 6 bought the game for its scantily clad, anatomically outrageous female characters, though some of Koei Tecmo's past ads about the girls kicking high were not helpful. You can have fun with the latest Call of Duty game without relishing in all of the virtual bloodshed contained within. You can find comfort in catching adorable little Pokémon even if you aren't a grade-school child.

And yes, you can be a girl who plays video games, even if very few commercials will show one actually doing it.

You can't just unplug the console

With all of the advances we've made in the world of games, we sometimes miss the simplicity of years' past. Remember when you could just toss your Super Nintendo into a backpack and lug it to your neighbor's house, not being overly concerned if you happened to drop it once or twice along the way? Remember when the cartridges were also nearly indestructible, back before discs hit the scene? And when consoles didn't have hard drives and operating systems and all of that?

We're in a much different time now. Today's gaming machines are basically computers. And your partner might not understand that they come with their own rules — one being you can't just unplug them.

It seems like such a silly thing to worry about. So silly, in fact, that your significant other might not think twice before they pull your console's plug from the socket while they're rearranging furniture or cleaning or packing. But the sad reality is, unplugging modern-day consoles without properly shutting them down can potentially damage your system's hard drive, corrupting its system files and rendering it useless.

So make sure your partner knows how to turn the console off completely. Or, you know, you'll just have to buy another one.