The room is silent. You and your significant other stare straight ahead, unmoving.
It’s eerie: you half expect someone to cough or sniffle, but even the sound of lightly drawn, respectful breaths of undisturbed air are absent. There’s a tension hanging, but to describe it as “thick” would be mistaken; this room is a void.
Your focus wanes in and out. After another agonizing second of motionless awe, a sharp breathe is drawn beside you. As your eyes slowly tear themselves from the surreal sight at the front of the room, your wife stands to her feet and grins from ear to ear.
How callous! Does she realize how embarrassing this is?
She leans over you, teeth now bared in a ruthless display of self-indulgence. A bead of sweat trickles down your temple as you thank the stars that the rest of the family wasn’t able to attend; the shame of your normally docile wife making such an uproar here – now – would have been too much to bear.
Her lips approach your ear, and your gut twists into a knot – no, two knots. Wishing with all your might for a word of consolation, you fear that her wild side has gotten the best of her, and hold on tight for the crashing that’s about to take place.
“YES!! In your face, baby! You just got beat by a GIRL!”
Arms now high in the air, she pulls back from your abused ear and waves her pink Xbox 360 controller in the air.
She just beat you at your own game.
A funeral you can handle. Getting beaten at a casual game is bearable. But when you’re on Prestige 10 with umpteen hours invested into every possible online mode, getting sniped twice in a row for the loss against your wife is downright death to your manly pride.
I presume that it’s even worse when a non-gamer boyfriend or husband gets a win over his “gamer girl”. He can throw a football farther and has never hit a parked car, but when he intrudes on your territory with a noobie victory…well, let’s just say that PMS comes early this month. At least, that’s what your excuse will be.
The first kill death at their hands was a milestone. You smiled; you patted them on the shoulder, and encouraged them to “keep it up”.
Their first air strike made the lemonade more sour than sweet. I’m okay, you told yourself, they’ll get bored before long, and I’ll be king again. Life was still good.
Then the music stopped. Oxygen was suddenly scarce. You knew that pressing the sprint control was probably too risky, and she was waiting with unnaturally steady crosshairs and inhuman calm. You prayed for a miss, but this Sunday afternoon would not be so forgiving. Blood has never boiled so hot as it did when your soldier fell on-screen, afflicted with a clean hole in the helmet.
The irony in all of this is that for three years, we’ve cajoled, begged, and even traded chores in order to get the elusive mate to pick up controller. I bought pink accessories to make the Xbox 360 more appealing (I’ve never returned to that Best Buy, either – the cashiers’ chuckles are still fresh in my mind).
So the question looms: what is the best course of action when a non-gamer – with whom you have a romantic connection – beats the snot out of you in the one area that was once untouchable?
Thankfully, there is a preventative action in the form of cooperative gaming. Get him/her involved in games that encourage teamwork. Sure, competition still exists in co-op games – competing for loot in dungeon crawlers, getting the most kills in co-op shooters, etc. – but the humble pie isn’t quite so bitter when your failures aren’t a direct result of having been completely and utterly owned
Eventually, the pain will subside, and you’ll feel less tentative about regaining your crown as the household leader of frags. And as your confidence returns, remember to be less aggressive about his/her participation, unless you are in a position to play on the same team. Until that situation arises, always have a co-op game or two on backup duty, and promote cooperative gaming whenever possible.
Speaking of which…does Co-Optimus have a pink theme available?