Erin and I have known each other for 10 years, and we've been married for five. We take part in so many activities together that it's difficult to list them. We spend plenty of afternoons at the beach soaking in the deliciously harmful sun. We enjoy trying new restaurants in our Brooklyn neighborhood. Theater is in our blood, and we love to see crappy Broadway musicals whenever we can.
But throughout our entire relationship, there's been a rift; there are some things which we never share. And those things always seem to involve elves, dragons, spaceships, swords and the occasional magic ring. I am a dork, you see. Big time. I play Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft and Civilization. I've had a gaming system since the NES came out in 1985. I read books like The Dragon Reborn. I cry while watching The Lord of the Rings.
Erin is no dork. Her favorite color is pink. She watches mind-numbing TV like So You Think You Can Dance and America's Next Top Model. E! is one of her go-to channels. She reads popular memoirs and chick lit. She peppers her conversations with names of the girls in The Hills. When she's stressed out, she goes shopping for a new dress or pair of shoes. Erin has a lot of shoes.
My wife has always regarded my dorkier pastimes with disdain. "I don't understand why you feel the need to go play D&D with a bunch of strangers. It's so weird!" she once said. "What do you get out of it?" I've often wondered where her game-player-hating came from. It's not like she doesn't enjoy games at all. We have played monster Scrabble sessions with her parents and she knows how to play blackjack, rummy and other card games. She even admits to loving a game for the Sega Genesis (Last Battle) and playing it incessantly with her brother in the late '80s.
The seeds of gaming had been sown, so why did Erin grow to dislike the hobby so much? She thought that videogames were for kids and didn't grok why her husband was 30 years old and didn't seem to be growing out of it. But what if I confronted her preconceived notions? I had resisted sharing my gaming lifestyle with her, but maybe that was the wrong approach - perhaps she didn't like gaming precisely because I never shared it with her. I decided to fully indorktrinate Erin, to expose her to D&D and Warcraft, to see if her disdain held up.
First on the docket: investigate the fantasy genre on which so much of my gaming is based. Erin's major hang-up was that she viewed the genre as juvenile. "I think it's childish. Little kids talk about dragons, not adults," she said. The recent cultural resurgence of fantasy seemed to have passed her by. "I had friends my age that were so into Harry Potter. I was like 'Really? You're going to stand in line for a book that my 12-year-old nephew is going to read?'"