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© 1998-2001 Dru Pagliassotti
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Five Problems with Gamers and Dating


I've been gaming for something along the line of 20 years now, which would be from my teens to my thirties—basically, the busiest dating years—and I've seen the best and the worst of intergamer dating. I've seen gamer friends date, break up, marry, and divorce, and I've seen many a good AD&D game shot down in flames as a result of these interpersonal interludes. This week—I write this mere hours before leaving to watch a gaming friend get married to a mundane—I want to discuss some of the interpersonal problems that arise when you try to mix gaming and romance. If you've been gaming for a long time, you're probably already familiar with many of these situations. If you're a newcomer to gaming, you might just want to keep these potential problems in mind and try to think of how you're going to handle them, whether you're doing the dating yourself or are in a group where dating is starting to take its toll.

1. Dating takes time away from gaming. Let's face it, all those hours you used to spend drawing dungeons and thinking of the next best way to kill your players or outwit your DM are gone as soon as you hook up with that significant other. Poof. Vanished without a trace as you spend all your time daydreaming about your date, planning your date, going out on your date, reminiscing about your date.....

2. Gaming takes time away from dating. Is your sweetheart going to understand why you're spending all day playing a game? Most mundanes don't get it. Maybe you'll be lucky and s/he'll have some hobby you don't share that takes up a full day, too, but what are the odds? I've seen many gamers dragged home before the game was over because their significant others were tired or bored or just want to have dinner, leaving the rest of the gaming group short-handed ... especially if it's the DM who's just been pulled away.

3. On the other hand ... dating gamers can cause even more problems than dating mundanes. At least if you're dating a mundane you can probably negotiate some kind of mutually agreeable schedule. But if you're dating another gamer, and you're both in the same game—well, then things can get tricky. Can you two keep your romantic relationship out of the game ... or can you keep the game out of your romantic relationship? ("You killed my character! How could you?" "But darling, my character's an assassin ... he was hired to kill you!") I've seen tensions get high between characters in a game when two of the players are having a lover's quarrel in real life.
Of course, the game can also be affected when you don't argue. Funny how often the characters of two players who have fallen in love end up falling in love, too. ("My character leaps in front of the dragon!" "But sweetie, you're just a scrawny mage, and I'm playing a fighter!" "But darling, I can't let you put yourself in danger!")
Or worse yet, what if one of you is the DM? How many times have I seen a doting DM give his or her honeybunch's character all the best magic items and attention while the rest of the players roll their eyes in disgust? Overcompensation is just as bad—when the DM tries to avoid favoritism by ignoring a significant other completely and minimizing that character's participation in the game, it can also end up causing hard feelings.

4. Breaking up will break up the game. In a highly cohesive gaming group, two romantically involved players who break up with each other can break up the entire group ... or at least that particular campaign. It's even worse when one of the players is the DM. A related problem is when a player asks another player out for a date and gets rejected—that can cause hard feelings in a gaming group, too. For example, since the ratio of male to female gamers seems to be something along the lines of 10:1, chances are any unattached female gamer is going to get a surfeit of date requests from the gamer guys she knows—whether she's interested in them or not. Somebody's going to get rejected at some point.... How will that affect your group?

5. Staying together can break up the game, too. When two gamers have children, their ability to find time to game really suffers. Ever tried to game with a baby, toddler, or small child in the house? It just doesn't work. When the kid wants attention, the whole game goes on hold ... and again, it's even worse if the parent is the DM. (It would be nice to suggest that the players just hire a babysitter when they game, but that's not always financially possible. For some reason, I've yet to meet a rich gamer....!)

So now you're asking, OK, what are the options? Lead a life of celibacy? (Stop snickering, that means no marriage as well as no sex.) Naaah. Somebody's gotta raise the next generation of gamers, right? But just realizing what kind of problems gamers face in their dating careers may help you cope with them. If you're going to date a mundane, work out some way that you can continue to play AD&D and maintain your relationship (the fates forbid you should quit gaming!) If you're going to date a gamer, be aware that your personal life and your characters' lives need to be kept separate. You probably won't be able to keep them completely apart, but you can try. And if you're not dating, but members of your gaming group are, brace yourself. You may end up the innocent victim of any one of these situations. Love may be a many-splendoured thing, but it would sure be nice if there were a DM to arbitrate it once in a while!

originally written May 24, 1998

 

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