An Obscure Prestige Class, Indeed
By Vangie Rich Ridgaway
Well, it’s official: after ten months of planning, organizing, coordinating, arranging, rearranging, and generally unleashing my Bridezilla Fury upon the world, I have finally attained the status of Gamer Wife. Along with the accompanying name changes and the addition of a new ring to the third finger of my left hand, I’ve noticed that the attainment of this obscure prestige class has caused a noticeable shift in how I view myself. Not only am I now the wife of a gamer, I can no longer deny that I myself have some “more-than-casual” gaming tendencies.
Of course, I make no claim of approaching my new husband’s level of commitment to gaming. Whereas Mike has been “out” as a geek and a gamer for over 20 years, mine is a subtle geekiness, still new and somewhat fettered by my desire to remain a “normal person,” if only for the sake of appearances. While I may spend an entire weekend (or three) holed up in our apartment playing Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, I am not about to admit it to the world at large. Much as I have come to enjoy gaming, I still have to walk that fine line between those who can argue the merits of platforms vs. RPGs, and those who want to know what the hell “platforms” have to do with rocket-propelled grenades.
The wedding itself was a prime example of trying to strike that delicate balance. I wanted to have a classy and elegant affair; Mike wanted to throw a party that he would actually want to go to. We both wanted a wedding that all of our guests would enjoy, and that meant catering to a rather disparate group of friends and family. Our compromise was simple: I would plan the classy, yet not overly formal, gathering that I had always been dreaming of, and Mike would get representation in small, subtle touches that he and his friends would appreciate, but that my mother would never notice.
We ended up hosting the ceremony and reception at a Victorian mansion outside of Baltimore. The wedding was held in the backyard, with fall foliage providing the majority of the décor; and the reception took place in the ballroom, where staff members in black bowties scurried busily among the impeccably white linens and elegant table settings. The escort cards were printed in a flowing script, the centerpieces consisted of wine bottles filled with gerbera daisies, the cake was decorated with flower tops in a brilliant fall palette. Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong crooned over the speakers while we ate our dinner, and everyone applauded warmly after we performed our first dance to “Falling Slowly” by the Swell Season. It was, quite simply, a lovely event.
Of course, those who were looking closely might have noticed a few odd details that stood out from the rest. They might have seen, for example, that all the tables were named after locations in video games, such as Mushroom Kingdom, Zebes, or Hyrule. The musically inclined may have noticed that a few songs by the Protomen and Jonathan Colton had mysteriously snuck onto the wedding dance mix. The crowning touch, of course, was the cake topper, which was made especially for us by a good friend, and which depicted (depending upon your perspective) either me and Mike, or Paula and Jeff from Earthbound. Either way, it was generally agreed that it was pretty freaking cool.
After the wedding, Mike and I went away to Rehobeth Beach, where we spent a week doing pretty much nothing but drinking, eating leftover cake, and playing video games. The last bit caused some consternation among even our gamer friends, who were worried that Mike might have taken things “a bit too far” when he decided to pack up his PC so he could spend the week playing the newly-released Fallout: New Vegas. “Dude,” one of his friends gently reminded him, “it’s your honeymoon. I don’t think Vangie is going to appreciate you playing games the whole time.” “I don’t see why not,” Mike replied, feigning innocent surprise. “I mean, she’ll be playing them, too.”
And indeed, I was. While Mike hunted down Night Stalkers and pursued a vendetta against Caeser’s Legion among the wasteland of the ravaged Mohave, I played my way through Professor Layton: The Unwound Future, Costume Quest, and Plants vs. Zombies, before I got bored and spent the rest of the week reading the first book in the Millinnium Triology and the latest Terry Pratchett novel. Although I was quite specific about the fact that I didn’t want to watch Mike play Fallout, we did nevertheless end up getting plenty of together time in spite of our independent pursuits. Video games and books alternated with walks along the beach, dinners out, and a trip to tour the local brewery. I don’t know if that kind of vacation would have been right for everyone, but for us, it was perfect.
I guess that’s the thing about being a Gamer Wife that makes it such an obscure class to be in. A lot of people, when I tell them about Mike and his gaming habits, seem very surprised at my nonchalance, or at worst, slightly appalled on my behalf. “Doesn’t he ever pay any attention to you?” “Don’t you think that’s a bit childish for him to still be doing now that you’re getting married?” “Are you going to let him act that way when you have kids?”
I try to explain, but I often end up feeling lame, like I’m not communicating it properly. It’s hard to shift people’s focus away from the fact that it’s gaming; and to make them understand that it’s really not an all-consuming obsession, it’s just a fun hobby that is made infinitely more enjoyable by the fact that it is something we can share. I’m never sure how convincing my explanations sound; but whenever I get frustrated, I try to remind myself that persuading other people isn’t the important thing. The important thing is that I get it, or rather, that I get him. The truth is, I understand why he likes gaming; and I know him far too well to presume that he would ever put gaming before me or my needs. Gaming just a part of my life—our life—and that life happens to be one that I love. It doesn’t really matter if other people don’t get it. For us, it is perfect.