How Video Games Changed My Dating Life

How Video Games Changed My Dating Life

Someone once told me my desk at work looked like it belonged to a teenage boy. He’s right. It’s strewn with video game memorabilia. They form a warm blanket of comfort when I’m sitting at my cubicle because video games are a big part of my life.

Naturally, it follows that video games would play a huge role in my love life as well. But in the real world, dating is daunting. Sometimes, I’d find a potential partner. But trying to spark up a relationship after the cliché small talk was a one-way ticket to awkward silence, shrivelling up, and retreating into a dark corner.

I needed to make a change, so one time I blurted out: “So do you like video games?”

When I was in high school, a boy said to me that he would date me if I got rid of my moustache. It was a cruel joke and he said it loudly in a crowded playground. It wasn’t the worst thing that was ever said to me at school, but I never forgot that feeling of embarrassment which creeps up on me in potentially romantic scenarios. It leaves me flustered and stiff.

I’m fine interacting with guys on a regular basis, but as soon as there’s a hint of romance I just short circuit. I worked in a Chinese restaurant and every time I took an order from the cute guy who worked at the video store next door I’d go red, stutter and often gave him the incorrect change. He must have thought I was missing a few screws in my head.

And dating in the wild isn’t much easier. I’d meet new people at social gatherings, do the whole “What brings you here? What do you do? Where are you from” verbal dance before my brain starts going into meltdown.

Do I ask what they had for dinner? Do they know that I’m a weirdo? Maybe I should ask if they have any pets. Oh crap. I sense the awkward silence coming. ABORT. ABORT!

This is when I would shrivel up, make up an excuse, and slip away into a dark corner to reboot.

I knew I needed to make a change so one time, in a rare moment of bravery, I blurted out to a guy I was chatting with “So do you like video games?”

“Yes!” he responded with a big grin.

It instantly gave me a sense of levity. I came alive and we ended up talking for ages about what games we were playing. Impassioned words flowed out of my mouth as I gesticulated enthusiastically. Nothing ended up happening between us but at least I found a way to beat my anxiety — and made a new friend along the way.

Since then, video games have been the best ice breaker for me. It’s a topic I am passionate about and it inadvertently became a litmus test for potential relationships. I gravitate more towards those who do share the same interests as me and gaming is right up on the list.

You can absolutely be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your hobbies. But it makes life easier if they do. I dated a guy once who dragged me away from games to go out; he couldn’t understand why I’d spend hours staring at a computer screen.

I never want to go through that again.

Once online dating exploded, it was easier for me to connect with new people and there were more opportunities to go on dates. More often than not, I’ll pick the games arcade as a place to meet for a date. If I got to know the person better, I’d invite them over for video games, usually Tekken or Street Fighter.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • It’s fun.
  • It kills first-date nerves because it gives you something to do.
  • You can learn a lot about somebody by watching them play video games. Very important.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said in a solemn tone. We never saw each other again after that night.

I’ve had guys rage, venting their frustrations on arcade equipment. I’ve had guys who’ve lost interest in the game and would focus their attention on getting physical, perhaps mistaking the night for a ‘Xbox and Chill’ session.

I’ve dodged a few relationship bullets thanks to video games.

I’ve also met some wonderful people through gaming who either became close friends or romantic partners. I still look back fondly at the years I spent playing World of Warcraft with one of my boyfriends, bonding as we trekked through Azeroth.

I’m currently in a relationship with a guy who watches my back in Towerfall, names discoveries after me in No Man’s Sky and has saved my sorry arse multiple times in Overwatch. I treasure these memories and am grateful that I have somebody to share my love of video games with.

Let me make one thing clear: being in a relationship isn’t everything. Being single is definitely not a tragic ailment that should be cured swiftly. But for many of us, it would be nice to find a kindred spirit. A partner in crime. A player 2 in the game of life.

I’ve been told numerous times that playing video games will get you nowhere — that it’s a waste of time and I’m better off investing my time on doing something productive with my life. I still remember my mother telling me that I’ll never find a husband if I don’t stop playing video games because no man likes a butch woman.

I respectfully disagree with these views. Video games have helped me in so many aspects of my life in more ways than I could imagine.

It may help you find somebody who wants to press start to join your game.

This story originally appeared in August 2016. It has been retimed to help highlight the wonderful contributions women have made to Kotaku Australia over the years, our way of acknowledging International Women’s Day.


  • Lovely story Spandas. I think as you say the trick to dating is being confident and owning your hobby. If you are shy about things, it only leads to awkwardness and potential embarrassment on dates.

    That being said, my wife had no idea I liked video games when I was dating her. But she gradually became addicted to mobile gaming, so things are sweet now 😉

  • Great story :). I think you and I must be twins separated at birth!

    I once had a guy laugh at me when I said I loved video games, which he followed up with “Oh sweetie, Farmville isn’t a real video game” (I’ve never played Farmville in my life). I asked him to recite the Konami code, to which he replied “Konami code? What’s that?”. I laughed at him and walked out.

    • A bit off topic but how many people here knew the Konami code as a pre-internet kid? For all the time I spent playing video games and learning obscure tricks and passwords I only learned about it as an internet meme. There’s so much gamer and nerd cred stuff out there where I’m like ‘oh, I always wanted to play that but none of the video stores had it’ or ‘I didn’t even know that was a thing because there was no required reading list for being a nerd back then’. The one time someone suggested Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to me I chose a Sonic choose your own adventure book instead.
      Sometimes I feel like everyone else grew up in this bio-pic version of the 80’s and 90’s where they bounced from historically significant moment to historically significant moment while the greatest hits played in the background. I get that I didn’t have as much as most people and my friends weren’t super into this stuff so I didn’t have as many sources to share info with, but sometimes it feels like everyone instinctively knew which games would matter and had them all.

      • I’m not sure I did, but I only borrowed Probotector from my friend down the street a couple of times. Wtf is “Contra”? 😛

        Now the five toad code on the other hand…

      • I knew about it because a bunch of gameboy games used it and we would think (that’s kind of weird that a bunch of games use the same code). When I heard it dubbed the konami code it clicked. So yeah my brother and myself knew about it as kids but we didn’t know it was a ‘thing’.

        To be fair we read gaming magazines, surfed the net on 14.4k modems on a borrowed friends ozemail login, dialed some Sydney BBS’s for ‘warez’ and ‘appz’. Had action replay style carts for nes/snes. Helped some friends wire a mod chip onto a ps1, tore apart a gamecube to tweak the laser etc etc etc…. So we were pretty prone to cheat codes and messing around with stuff from a young age.

    • Imagine how much of a knob head you would have to be to laugh at someone and say Farmville isn’t a real game.

      I mean obviously Farmville isn’t a real game but the assumption that’s what you meant when you said you like Video Games makes me think you dodged a bullet.

  • This is VERY accurate to my experience. As a lady in gaming in many, many ways (and also enjoying a lot of male dominated hobbies), I use that stuff as a buffer for finding potential romantic partners, and it generally starts off as friendship anyway, so I almost always gain in the end anyway. Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t accept those parts of you that matter most?
    Being passionate about something just means when you do find someone else who shares that spark, the connection is automatically stronger, whether it works out or not. All of my most important and impactful relationships have been based around the shared interests of music, cosplay and/or gaming. It’s wonderful 🙂 I get to meet so many amazing people though my hobbies too!

  • bah you people with dating and partners and family…… i just stay here in my cave with my 100% rejection rate. seriously ive never had date, never had girlfriend. everytime i worked up the courage to even ask someone out its always been a straight NO! Hell i cant even make it to friends with benifits

  • That’s a story I can relate to, although being a guy the general stereotype is that you’re an overgrown manchild. It’s even worse if you also like anime and manga because now you have shelves and walls lined with scantily clad female figurines and posters showing your “waifus”.

    My ideal player 2 is the medic who will heal or revive me every time I go charging into a pack of enemies waving my sword (or gun) around like a madman trying to accumulate all the aggro.

    • From my own experience, people who love to play support characters make the best partners 🙂 So you’re right to want a player 2 who plays healer!

  • I wish I could do this, it’s one of those easy topics where I can really just talk and talk and talk, but as much as I love games it’s just not part of what I’m looking for in a relationship. It creates this unfortunate situation where the types of people I’m seeking for relationships are also the types of people who will interpret the ice breaker of ‘I like games, do you?’ as ‘I’m immature’ or ‘I’m looking for someone to cook for me while I play XBOX’.

  • I can’t say it’s the only reason as we have many other similarities and shared interests, but I certainly rate it highly.

    I’m pretty sure if she didn’t want to stay at home most weekends and game, I’d be miserable. This past weekend we went to the footy friday night, played games all day sat, went to a housewarming sat night, played games till 3ish on Sunday and played d&d from 4-9:30 last night.

    To us, that was far too much time spent not gaming.

  • I spent months farming the Alani mount for my girlfriend in WOW, the bonus being my nickname for her is Lani. It took months because the 10 items you needed had a drop rate of 0.02%, on a pvp server where alliance was outnumbered roughly 7:1. Thank god for being a rogue.
    It was all done in secret and when the day came and I grouped with her and presented her with her new mount she dissolved in tears and joyful hugs. Worth every minute spent grinding.

  • Great story, just feels too unrealistic to where I reside. It is expected for a guy to be outgoing and sporty to get a date here. I have never met a single person ( a guy) in my whole life who plays alot of video games and has a dating life.

    I can see Spandas’s passion for video games clearly in her story. And in some interesting way, it is turning out to be positive for her, which is great. However, here’s the important question for Kotaku users. How many people have you met who could relate to this story and say the same? Video games are getting accepted slowly but there are still far away from the point where you could use them as ice breaker or startup an amazing conversation.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love video games to. However, just like any other hobby, it is highly important to find a balance in life. There are some things we can learn from video games and some things we can learn from being away from video games. That’s just my opinion.

  • well done on finding your strengths and getting the courage up amidst the anxiety to share it with others as an ice breaker.
    i used to be able to hold conversations with almost anyone, but a couple of years of some pretty bad life experiences and add 2 parts depression, 1 part anxiety and 2 parts stress and you’ll be lucky if you get anything out of me in real life conversations. for work functions, i now have to hit the bar hard and fast for liquid courage, and even then, i mostly hang off a hand full of people who know what ive been through, or have shown genuine interest in me in the past.

        • Sure.

          So Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or (BJJ) is a martial art that is designed and tested to give a smaller opponent the tools to protect, defend and survive an altercation against a larger bodied opponent. How it works is 2 people get on the ground and begin to grapple and outmaneuver each other until 1 person gives up by tapping in a submission. A submission is usually a choke hold, or joint lock. The smaller opponent will use a bunch of techniques that use leverage to out maneuver the opponent, gain a dominant position and finish the fight in a scientific and non lethal manner.

          The beauty of BJJ is there is no striking so you don’t have to worry about head injuries or any striking injuries. The benefit this has over any other martial art is that it can be practiced at 100% effectiveness. There is no practice of hitting bags, shadow boxing, or light sparring, so practitioners are constantly placed into combat situations where they can utilize the techniques at 100% against a resisting opponent.

          So that is the introduction to what BJJ is. Now why I think it is amazing. (Purely Bias Opinion BTW)

          Once you start to learn BJJ, you start to understand that it is like a video game. Its a game of My opponent making a move, then I counter that move, then my opponent counters my counter, then I counter and so on. Then we continue on until someone makes a mistake, then the game transitions to the next position or someone loses to a submission. The beauty of it is you start to learn more skills and the intricacies of the moves and it becomes this beautiful exchange of technique and a self understanding of the game and the moves within the game. Joe Rogan refers to it being like a game of 3d chess, where you have 1 million pieces all with different moves. So this part of BJJ is what captures everyone. People start to get caught in a certain move, and they start researching and asking about ways they can defend or counter it. They learn a defense or counter and then they start putting it into practice. Then it may or may not work for them. Then one day it does, and you get really good at it. You catch all your opponents with it. Then they begin researching ways to counter your specialty. And it forever evolves.

          Suddenly your 6 months in and all you have been trying to do is not get caught in one of your opponents moves and suddenly your realize you have lost 15 kgs. Its a fantastic way to lose weight. i think the best way to lose weight is to have weight loss as a by product of doing something you love. When weight loss is the focus then the task can be mundane. And people usually fall of the bandwagon before any real progress is made.

          Fitness is a key element to the mind, when your body is working well together with a good diet, your mind appreciates it. It handles stress better. You think clearer. You feel better. Its a natural high. And feeling better shows to others around you. Its contagious. BJJ is (In my opinion) once again a fantastic way to get fit. By concentrating on furthering and improving your skills, the byproduct is fitness and well being.

          Next is the confidence it brings. BJJ is tried and tested in self defense scenarios, in spectacle events life the UFC and inc challenge matches against other martial arts. This can be seen in some of the old “Gracie Challenge” videos on YouTube. All fights unattended to will end up on the ground. And that is where BJJ thrives. I never condone fighting as a first option, but if a situation ever arises its fantastic to know that you have BJJ in your arsenal of things to assist you. Its not going to help you defeat 11 guys with one punch, nor is it a good idea to fight someone with a weapon. But if you end up on the ground in a 1 on 1 fight , with BJJ you will have the upper hand, and if the other person knows Jiu jitsu too, you probably will both shake hands and ask where each other trains. This confidence helps you deal with many social mental aspects. Eases Anxiety in social situations, boosts confidence in conversations with people, especially people that you may think have a greater social status to you. Helps with dealing with personal space issues, confrontation, patience, finding comfort in uncomfortable situations, challenging oneself. These are aspects of life we all experience on a day to day basis, and things you end up dealing with every time you get on the mat, and you won’t even realize.

          Stress. When you are rolling (the term we use for grappling) with your opponent, your body shifts in into survival mode. Suddenly for the next 2 hours of class your mind is in the zone. All your worries of work, social life, cant beat dark souls 3, want your money back on no mans sky, all fly out of the mind. Suddenly the mind is clear. Think of it like a mediation. After training you feel amazing.

          And the last and most important aspect of Bjj. Bjj brings together like minded people. People that want to better themselves, people that like gaming, people that are looking to boost their confidence, people that have always wanted to do a martial art but didn’t want to get hurt breaking planks of wood, people with mental conditions, people with weight issues, woman who want to become MMA fighters, men who want to learn self defense, kids that have been bullied. All types of people from all walks of life. Something happens when you “roll” with people on the mats. You create a bond, and its a bond that you cant get from anywhere else, you both share each others struggles and fortunes. You see your friends improvements, they share yours. Their improvements, improve you. You will create friendships with these people like none other before.

          As you can tell I endorse this martial art , and everything I have discussed above is my experience. Just remember the most important out of this is I am not a fighter. I wouldn’t hurt a fly. I don’t endorse this because I like fighting. I endorse it as a way to test, challenge, develop and improve ones life both physically and mentally.
          That is why i say it can change your life.
          Sorry to all those if this comes along long winded, but to something that truly changed my life for the better, I cannot not give it the respectful post it deserves.

          But some things are not for everyone, and I trust you would consult your physician if you have any conditions that could prevent you from participating in such activity. So even if this doesn’t give you a slight interest into trying it out, or you physically cant, maybe someone else in here may.

    • I can absolutely relate to this 🙁 That outgoing person is still inside, I’m sure. I hope you will be able to dig deep inside and bring that person out again soon!

      • haha, thanks. i definitely have my moments. its usually ‘when the stars align’ sort of timing though.
        i used to be the crazy attention seeking type, that would put my body on the line to make people laugh and have fun. but those days are very much few and far between. balance is key and im still working out what that is for me. i have my peaks and my troughs, im just hoping they arent as violent as the have been over the last few years. i trained for a mini triathlon at the beginning of the year. the summer sun, plus the vigorous activity a few times a week went along way in increasing my serotonin and dopamine and other ‘happy’ hormones, but then, injury, sickness, stress, winter all came in one after the other. makes motivation very very hard to muster up to get back being active again. i recently started going back to adult gymnastics (which i was doing all last year with a mate) its nerve racking at the moment because my body isnt used to it, ive put on a few kgs, my flexibility and strength are gone, so its daunting having to start off with the basics again. not to mention there are a whole bunch of new people attending that i get to feel inadequate around.

        but, ive got a 4 year old girl to set an example for about not giving up, so there is some extra incentive there, not to mention, i want to feel good and healthy again.

        to health and happiness hey? ha ha

  • I probably more dread the “what do you do?” question and the revelation of joblessness and/or still living at home than I do my gaming collection, really 😛 Sadly the former seems to come up far more easily than the latter. Though I don’t know that I necessarily make an effort to bring it up myself at all, and more wait for it to end up making its own way out. But that probably goes for just about anything about me, extracting info can be like getting blood from a stone a lot of the time.

  • I totally get this. Having similar experiences of my own. I have never dated someone that shared my passion for video games. Hopefully one day but I also find it hard to meet women around my age (33) with similar interests. I’ve met friends and co-workers that are a lot younger with the same hobbies but not around my age. I would love to have a “gaming date” of some kind.

  • Great article. Totally agree with you. If “she” would rather watch my kitchen idol than play video games than she is out. But if she does prefer games I might have to fight her for the controller. Hmmm.
    Its awesome you found the courage to bring video games to the forefront of a convo. I still think in Australia that there is huge stigma towards gamers. And I myself at 37 years old still find it difficult to bring up gaming in certain convos. Even though I am proud of it and quite vocal of it to my group of people that may or may not aggree. Its still can be awkward to bring up to some people, who you are expecting to give you a big curious look of “Oh your a video game nerd”. But then who cares. We need to just be and be passionate about what we love and enjoy. Passion inspires. Thanks for the passion Spandas.

  • Excellent advice. When I was younger I often thought I should hide from potential romantic companions my interest in videogames (and other nerd-culture interests) as I was afraid it would be a turn-off. My rationale was that as much as I love gaming, for sure a good life-long companion is the better thing, which objectively speaking is entirely true. In practice, however, you’ll find yourself being miserable in such relationship even if everything else is great.

    Why? Gaming (or really, whatever other activity/interest you are passionate about) is a way of expression, you like gaming (or whatever) because the way you intrinsically /are/. Having to repress that area because your partner cannot tolerate (or you think they can’t, if you just never brought it up) will eat you inside and make you unhappy. You’ll literally be attempting to change yourself to please someone else, so you’d feel pretty sour about not being able to be yourself and wonder whether the other person loves a fake you, a person that is not real but projected. I know this from experience.

    So bringing up gaming early is not only a great way of breaking the ice. It also acts as a good filter. You don’t necessarily need your partner to be /into/ gaming, but you need to be able to assess their attitude towards it and find it to be positive or at the very, very least tolerant. Yes, there will be a significant number of people who flat out will reject you from being a gamer, or at least comment on how childish/wasteful/inane it all is for them. Cheer up, turns out that now you know that you didn’t want them either, after all!

Log in to comment on this story!