Co-op’ing with My Honey

Get your minds out of the gutter, LOL (or maybe it’s just me). I read the title out loud and it does sound kinda naughty. But no, not talking about private stuff. I’m talking about my second favorite thing to do after a long week of work: hopping on the XBox with the love of my life and gaming the night away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a dinner out and chocolates and flowers as much as the next gal. But I’m a gamer girl so really, the best date you can take me on is to the European Dead Zone in Destiny 2 or the zombie apocalypse of State of Decay 2.

Charles and I spend hours and hours co-op gaming. It’s one of the activities that led to us falling in love. But apparently, it’s not that common a thing amongst our friends. At work, I’ve talked about gaming with my baby and most of my co-workers’ significant others either don’t game at all or they game separately. Charles brought up the topic when he went out to lunch with his guy friends who were amazed that we play together. I suppose my question is: why wouldn’t we?

The most obvious obstacle is finding co-op games to play that we’ll both enjoy. While I thoroughly enjoy telltale games, they aren’t my honeybun’s cup of tea. Charles loves strategy turn-based games, me…not so much.

While there are plenty of MMORPGs out there, we’ve burned through lots of them trying to find one to sustain our nightly gaming sessions. But as MMOs are wont to do, they get repetitive so we’re constantly switching up what we play.

In the past year, we’ve played RDO, Destiny 2, Outriders, Dauntless, Elder Scrolls Online, State of Decay 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, all four Borderlands games, Gears 5, and most recently, Anthem. The swath of cancellations and delays COVID cut through many of those games has made it even more challenging.

One of the other issues we had (perhaps still have, lol) is a difference in play styles. He’s the aggressive face-tank that runs in and at times gets himself overwhelmed, loving every second of the carnage. I tend toward ranging, thinning out the enemy before I run in. Fortunately, most co-op games give us a good choice of characters and the difference in our gameplay turns inyo a strength. I’m gonna take a ranger with magic or status abilities, preferably who can set folks on fire. Who knew I harbor an inner pyromaniac? He takes the battle-ready warrior or armor-laden tank characters and our abilities compliment each other.

There’s also the whole white-knighting thing, I’ve talked about before. Charles used to do it a lot when we first met. Not really his fault, he’d never played with a gamer girl like me. I’m not the kind who’ll stand back and let him take on the tough opponents for me. I don’t like someone else fighting my fights. There’s nothing wrong with women who play that way, I just ain’t one of them. We both contribute or what’s the point of co-op’ing?

What’s come of this past year plus of tackling games together is a true partnership. Just as we’ve crafted IRL. We approach every challenge as a team. I still don’t really get playing online with random people. It always feels like a fustercluck. Then again, I’ve gotten spoiled with a gaming partner who knows what I’m going to do before I do it and understands my strengths and limitations. Besides, why do I need to play with strangers when my baby is always there, controller in hand, ready to take on the next adventure?

If I’ve entertained you or added some value to your day, that’s wonderful! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, subscribe to my blog or hit me up on Twitter @cindyjacks. If you’d like to support my blog with donations you can do so at ko-fi https://ko-fi.com/grownupgamergirl or cash app $cindyjacksbooks. All donations to my online content are much appreciated, but definitely not required to keep coming back to visit! Game on, my friends!

The ESO Connection

Image credit: Elder Scrolls Online gameplay

Okay, how the f@#k have I not played this game until now? Actually, I do know why. MMORPGs aren’t my jam. Or at least I thought they weren’t.

When I started gaming as a kid, it was a solo endeavor unless P2 sat in the same room with you and you had another controller. Positively primitive, I know. That being said, I do love Elder Scrolls Online. Why, you ask? Let me tell ya.

About a year ago, I discovered Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It was one of those games that sort of takes over your life but you don’t mind because the amount of content and solid writing and adrenaline rush makes it worth neglecting your hygiene and loved ones for a couple weeks.

Knowing this, my gamer guy suggested ESO a couple months ago, but like I said I don’t f@#ks with MMORPGs (and no, RDO is not an MMORPG, don’t get me started). But I’m on this journey to explore all the gaming I missed while being a responsible adult so finally, I downloaded it. Bam! It was love at first button click.

I’m like a kid in a freaking candy store. There’s so much content, it’s almost overwhelming. All the loot. All the ways to customize your character’s build. Not to mention the map is massive and let’s face it, size does matter. The costume options are a little hit or miss, but all in all, I think I might have a new gaming love of my life. I can imagine losing months, possibly years, of my life to ESO. But hey, I have no life, so there’s that.

Currently, I’m playing as a nightblade class dark elf, but I can’t wait to explore all the other races and classes. I’m also looking forward to exploring the PVP options. Again, not my wheelhouse because I usually play story games or PVE online. But I will improvise, adapt, overcome. Of this I have no doubt.

What I find most fascinating is the sense of community. The way I grew up playing and how I first approached gaming once I got back into it was like that George Thorogood song, “I Drink Alone,” except I game alone. Well, sometimes I drink alone, but that’s a whole other story.

In a previous post I wrote about Jane McGonigal’s theory on gamer super powers, one of which was weaving a social fabric. MMOs foster a sense of camaraderie (is that really how that word is spelled? Sorry, I’ll focus). I don’t think I’m brave enough to jump into a guild with random people. But I can say gaming in a small group sponsored by gamer guy has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

If I’m honest, I’m a lot less lonely, even though we don’t game in the same room. I’ve been a bit isolated since, you know, my life started imploding about three years ago. Add my severe introversion to the loss of everything I once knew, I’m in need of a little connection. Humans are social creatures after all. Maybe I’ve found a good place to start, The ESO Connection.