29 Nov 2011

The Gaming Couple & Star Wars

Earlier this week we finally preordered Star Wars: The Old Republic. The decision wasn’t based on the recent beta weekend – we’d decided months ago that this was the next game we were going to play. Instead it was purely dependant on what we’re doing during the holiday season and if we’d have a chance to take advantage of early access.

By ‘we’ I mean myself and the lady who I started playing Warcraft with some six or seven years ago and who married me last year. I completely agree with Ravven: the best thing a gamer can do is fall in love with another gamer.

Going into SWTOR represents hitting the reset button for both of us. Back at the launch of World of Warcraft we played together, leveled up characters together and raided together. Since then three expansions have passed and our interests in the game have diverged. I’m only logging in to raid these days, while my wife has moved on to other games.

It’s not going to be easy – I know I have an urge to regress to a teenager. Just log in and play the game solidly, ignoring mealtimes and living on caffeine. Emerging after two or three days, almost blinded by the cruel Day Star, once I’ve rushed my way to the next end-point. There’s still a part of me that wants to treat MMOs as single player games with fancy social features.

There’s also the nervousness of guilds. Of meeting new people and avoiding the competition of levelling, of trying to keep pace just so you have a team of people to run dungeons or flashpoints with. Of getting over the attitude that someone’s girlfriend or wife means that they’re only playing the game out of some kind of social compulsion instead of being a skilled gamer in their own right.

There’s another thing about the whole gamers in relationships thing that’s puzzled me – why do men feel that falling in love or getting married has to mean giving up gaming? I didn’t have to hang up the D-pad. Instead I gained a Player 2 to share my games with. Well, that and Street Fighter IV. She may play a better Chun Li to my Ryo, but in Soulcalibur IV my Kilik is unstoppable.

Getting back to SWTOR, signs are promising. We managed to play together this weekend for a fair amount of time and the magic and fun is still there, even if she’s wading in with dual Lightsabers while I’m at the back throwing in Force Lightning. It’s 2005 all over again and I’m loving it.

There’s also some real in-game benefits to doing it. The number of Heroic quests (group quests in SWTOR) mean that having someone levelling with you is a real bonus, while standard quests don’t seem to incur a grouping XP penalty. The first instance when you leave your starter world is also designed for 2 players. Finally there’s a Social reputation system that can only be accumulated through questing while grouped. Teaming up by the time you reach the spaceport is definitely worth it.

I’ll update you with how we’re getting on in early January. In the meantime, I’m definitely dreaming of a Sith Christmas.

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