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May 29, 2008

I wanna rock with you

Filed under: News,Psychology — posted by Mary @ 8:24 am

Fear not, Xbox widows (and widowers) everywhere! There is now proof that your next video game experience could not onlybe fun, but could also save your relationship. Rachel Shukert’s hilarious new article on Salon.com (it’s Premium, so you’ll need a subscription or day pass; of course, I’ll summarize here too) tells the story of a frustrated wife and her video game-addicted husband in a marriage. He spends his time shooting things in a video fantasy world; she fears the man she married has become one of the very aliens he’s always trying to blow up. (“…[N]oise-canceling headphones,” Shukert writes. “You could lock Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly and Mullah Omar in a room together with a stack of Hustlers and 10 ounces of meth, and they couldn’t come up with anything more misogynist.”)

The solution? Some old-school advice — “find a hobby you can enjoy together!” — applied to modern technology. In other words: they learn to party like rock stars.

Virtual rock stars, that is. “Like Guitar Hero for people with social skills, Rock Band is a game in which you pretend you can play instruments: a plastic guitar with color-coded buttons, a microphone and a set of “drums” consisting of four round motion-sensitive pads,” Shukert writes. “A motley collection of preselected, pre-licensed songs from a variety of artists — Weezer, Deep Purple, Metallica, Radiohead — have been translated into a series of blinking colored bars that appear on the screen and serve as notes. Hit them, and you are rewarded with stars, fans and new, more challenging songs; meanwhile, sloppy, incompetent playing earns surprisingly real (and traumatizing) jeers of contempt from the tattooed, pierced and computer-generated audience.”

All of a sudden, the headphones are off; it’s as if they’ve renewed their vows. “Our fake band, Sex Baby, embarks on a fake world tour on our fake jet, playing fake stadiums in all the fake capitals of Europe. Our fake selves grace the covers of fake magazines, and our fake fans number in the millions,” she writes. “When our fake manager calls to tell us we’ve been invited to play the fake Hall of Fame showcase in fake Stockholm, my real husband turns toward me, and smiles.

Nicely played! If music be the food of love, party on!


  1. In past relationships, I’ve been ignored for hours by beaux who rather build armies and amass whatever counts as money in their virtual village. I don’t like the stress of shoot-em-up, kill-em-up games, and never understood the obsession with beating high scores on his networked handheld device the way my current boyfriend does.

    Guitar Hero (and games like Rock Band, Wii sports, etc.) have really broken down the wall between what is social (in real physical life) and fun, and what feels boring and exclusionary to those “widowers” living with their game playing ghost of a man (usually a man).

    Even if your mate still likes to geek out in his/her own little world, it doesn’t mean he/she’s shutting you out.

    I like to offer this crazy but true anecdote to anyone who asks me how much I mind my S.O. playing these games: We were lost on the streets of Barcelona looking for a restaurant someone had recommended, when we came to a traffic circle and fountain statue. “I know where we are,” he said, “This is exactly like Tony Hawk Pro-skater. We have to make a left.” And I kid you not, he then led me down to the waterfront, pointed out famous landmarks along the way, and brought us to within a block of the tiny, local’s-only restaurant we’d been seeking.

    After that, I feel rather warm and fuzzy about video games, so long as he also plays Guitar Hero with me on occasion.

    Comment by Mia — May 29, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

  2. […] Men. We’re not going to address men’s computer usage: time at work, time at Warcraft, and stuff like that? […]

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