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Column: Married to Gaming

June has been an exceptionally busy month, so I apologise for my delays in writing this piece. That said, I don’t think there were too many readers on IVG going, “Hey, what happened to that comedian dude who lectures us all the time?” in my extended absence.

Between a 9 to 6 job, and co-writing and performing a new stand-up special (called Comedy News Network), I’ve found precious little time to breathe, let alone work on my mountain of videogame backlog whose startling growth would prompt even the US Dollar to walk away from the gagged, leather-strapped Rupee in its bed and go, “Chill the fuck out, bro” while lighting up a Lucky Strike. Snippets of free time have limited me to short bursts of The Walking Dead and F1 2012 – a fitting combination for release from hours of traffic jams caused by the apocalyptic plague of the undead known to most Mumbaikars as “rain”.

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Now at this point, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking to yourselves, “Vocab mast hai, but stop it I don’t care about your life bro”, to which I’m compelled to respond, “WAIT, THERE’S MORE!”. This temporary lack of videogames in my life has prompted me to look to a not-so-distant and altogether more permanent future.

On one hand, I’ll have the love of my life, who makes me smile, who will always be there for me, to care for me for ever and a day. And on the other hand, there’ll be my wife.

Long story short, I’m getting married soon (love marriage, thank you for asking), and the addition of a female organism to my bedroom will likely devolve my life into the most daring balancing act I have ever attempted. On one hand, I’ll have the love of my life, who makes me smile, who will always be there for me, to care for me for ever and a day. And on the other hand, there’ll be my wife.

I don’t know too many married gamers (and perhaps there’s a reason for the lack of them), but if they do exist, I picture them in a scene from Fallout 3 – holed up in a Galaxy News Radio tower besieged by raging mutant wives that can only be soothed by the swift, smoking barrels of a shotgun. Given that this is, after all, a community of Indian geeks and gamers (many of whom have been emasculated in engineering colleges) I feel the need to explain the Mercurial gravity of this situation.

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A committed relationship, you see, is an agreement between two parties (usually of opposite sexes, but some exceptions are now legal), in which the male participant bequeaths to his female partner, utter and complete control of all decisions, opinions, and planned activities, in exchange for a three-letter activity that rhymes with flex.

A breach of this agreement results in what is known as “the silent treatment”, where said silence translates to “you’re not getting any for a month”. A corollary to the contract can culminate in the dreaded, “I said I’m fine!”, which loosely means “you’re going to have to buy something really expensive to make up for this and no, a Call of Duty title doesn’t count”.

Now when you’re living apart, it’s fairly easy to pull off this fine act of balance without a discernable breach of treaty. With the correct level of skill and requisite training of the neck muscles, the ardent gamer can sate the conversational needs of his partner over the phone while engaging in an entertaining game of FIFA at the same time.

Occasional slip-ups, which include impulsively shouting out names of players can easily by covered up (“Of course I love yo…KAKA! Oh, hey, sorry baby, my uncle just walked into the room”). Needless to say, such shenanigans would be foolhardy in person, although the odds are in your favour if you live in a joint family.

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A hopelessly naive part of my brain believes that there may be an amicable compromise to my predicament – that I might somehow convert my lady love into a gamer herself. That presents its own share of quandaries. Multiplayer games are out of the question, owing to a catch-22 guillotine that oscillates between “You beat me; this is not fair, I’m a girl” and “You let me win; you have no respect for me <cue feminist rant>”.

A joint GTA venture will, in all probability, lead to a squabble about my character being woefully underdressed and jumping too many signals.

A joint GTA venture will, in all probability, lead to a squabble about my character being woefully underdressed and jumping too many signals, although perhaps shooting up a bank may lead to passionate lovemaking later (the ladies love a gangsta, I hear). Let’s not even get into the grief I’d get over my choice of partners in The Witcher (“Why are you talking to me? Go make love to that DRYAD of yours”).

There really is no easy solution to this predicament, but as any Indian parent will tell you, being married is far more important than playing DotA (sic). If you’re a married gamer stuck in your own private GNR tower, send in your transmissions to the comments section and let me know how you’re coping. As for me, I suppose I’ll have to find ways to get by. As long as I don’t mistakenly yell out Lara Croft’s name in the throes of passion, I think I might be alright.

azeemAzeem Banatwalla is a writer and stand-up comedian. He spends bewildering amounts of time and money adding things with fans and blue lights to his gaming rig, refusing to play any game below the absolute maximum visual spec. As you may have guessed, he’s a PC gaming snob, although he does occasionally miss playing old-school Sonic on his Sega Mega Drive 2. Views expressed are Azeem’s own and do not reflect those of IVG’s editorial staff.

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