Long time readers of my blog will have noticed that I'm a total Nintendo fanboy. I've owned all of their consoles from the SNES onward, including the Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Wii, Wii U, and now the Switch. I can still remember the joy of Super Mario World like it was yesterday, and Star Fox 64 is my favorite game of all time. In short, I keep buying Nintendo games and systems because they keep making good ones.
My wife K.C. is not at all the Nintendo freak that I am. She's a gamer too, but she grew up with Sony systems, falling in love with games like Final Fantasy X-2 and Crash Bandicoot. I gave her the first Kingdom Hearts game as a Christmas present while we were still in high school and dating, and she opened it three days before, she was so excited to start it. I only found this out because I showed up at her parents' house unannounced and I could hear it from outside the front door.
In short, we're a gamer couple. But until relatively recently, we didn't really play video games together.
NOTE: Links to games below are Amazon Affiliate links.
See, the kinds of games we both like, RPG and story-driven games, and our particular situation did not lend themselves to letting us play games together. The reasons are varied and too long to discuss here (and have a lot to do with K.C.'s terrible motion sickness, which rules out first-person shooters and other games with a lot of motion), but suffice to say that we both agree on single-player, story driven games being awesome. The problem we had was this: how could you play these kinds of video games together and still make it fun for both of us?
For the longest time, we had no answer to that question. We still played games, just not together. She worked on her games while I was at work, and I did my gaming after the kids went to bed. At the release of Xenoblade Chronicles, still my favorite RPG of all time, I played the game and she watched the cutscenes to follow the story. It was an improvement, but still not quite what seemed "fair" to us.
And then came the Wii U, and the big breakthrough in the form of Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Now, finally, was a game we could truly play together. The game's controls were very similar to one of K.C.'s all-time favorite games Final Fantasy XII, and I was so enthralled with the first game that we both picked up this one immediately.
Over the next three months, the two of us racked up 140+ hours of game time. To date, this is the most time we've spent on any single game.
This was only the beginning. After Xenoblade Chronicles X we progressed to the astounding Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, followed shortly by K.C.'s all-time favorite Kingdom Hearts series, and finally to our current obsession Horizon Zero Dawn. All of these are story-driven games, all take loads of time to complete, and all were (and are) a total blast. I can safely say that we get more entertainment value for our money out of video games than any other form of media.
In all these years we've spent playing story-driven games with two people, we've come up with a few rules that help us get maximum enjoyment out of our game time. We're hoping they might be useful to you, my readers, as well.
1. Pick Big Games You Both Enjoy
All of the games we've worked on together are enormous games that require a lot of time investment to complete. Because of this, we get substantial bang for our buck; a $60 game that takes 60 hours ($1/hour of entertainment) to complete is way more money-efficient than, say, going to the movies ($25 for two tickets for 2 hours is like $6.25/hour). Plus, we can do it in our pajamas.
2. Create a Joint File
Let's face it, it is boring as hell to watch someone play something you've already completed. And you don't really want to see spoilers for a game you've been interested in playing yourself. So, K.C. and I create a single, joint file in all our games.
3. The Main Story Is Reserved
Specifically, it is reserved for when you are together. In our case, currently playing Horizon Zero Dawn, each of us can do anything we like in the game, including side missions and other activities that don't contribute to the main story, when the other isn't around. This is so we can each have some fun even when we're not able to be in the same room at the same time.
4. Take Turns
It can be fun to watch someone play a game, but it's often not as engaging as doing it yourself. Take turns with your partner or spouse, let them get engaged in the game! Remember, the point is to spend time doing something together, and it's more fun to be an active participant than a passive observer.
5. Don't Play If It Isn't Fun For Both Of You
In our collective gaming history, only once have we decided to not play a game together due to it not being fun for one of us, and that was very recently. We originally bought Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with the intention of playing it together, having enjoyed the first two games in the series. However, due to the art style (K.C. really doesn't like the animesque style the game employs) and a new control system, we decided that this game wasn't going to work for both of us. It's perfectly fine if some games just don't work out for both of you!
Video games are a fantastic way for couples to get a litle bit closer, even if you don't enjoy huge multiplayer games or first-person shooters. From using our Skell to smash some Krabbles (Xenoblade Chronicles X), to wiping out a bunch of Heartless with a Keyblade (Kingdom Hearts), to overriding a hulking Ravager and watching it wipe the floor with some Watchers (Horizon Zero Dawn), K.C. and I have a ton of happy memories of the games we've played as a team. With our rules in place, we can maximize our enjoyment and our money and make some great lasting memories.
The one constant, through all the games and all the good times, is that this is something I get to do with K.C., the love of my life. And spending time with her, my partner and confidant, my friend, my love, doing something we both enjoy, is what makes all the difference.
What games do you enjoy playing with your spouse, partner, or friends? Share in the comments!