Birthdays,  Family,  Marriage,  Military and Veteran Life

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

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I recently this post about “The Best Advice I Ever Received About Being Married.” The nutshell version of her post is that as wives, one of the best things that we can do is get involved and interested in the hobbies of our husband.

And then I didn’t feel so silly.

All guys have hobbies. Her husband chose football. Some guys like hunting, or fishing. My husband likes to play video games. *gasp*

I used to want to hide that fact. I mean, come on. Grown men who still play video games just need to grow up, right? Honestly, (from my not-so-humble womanly perspective) I’m not sure why the maturity level of a grown man sitting in front of a computer exploring worlds and killing monsters is that much different from the maturity level of a grown man sitting in front of a TV watching other grown men get paid millions of dollars to throw a ball back and forth. Just sayin…

So there. I said it. My husband is a gamer. And I love him for it. Honestly, as much as his love for playing video games has annoyed me from time to time, I’m thankful that his hobby keeps him in the house as opposed to out in the woods or on the lake, yet doesn’t interfere with my hobbies by hogging the TV every weekend. Win-win!

Guys who follow football can’t wait til football season…and let’s not even talk about the Superbowl, or the Fiesta Bowl, or the Rose Bowl.

Gamers can’t wait til their brand-new, epically awesome game-that-has-been-in-development-for-the-last-three-years releases to be able to play.

And so we wives-of-gamers listen.

The first time my husband ever talked to me about Guild Wars 2, March of 2011, I was out of town for my sister-in-law’s bridal showers…she was having two showers and Russ just happened to call from Afghanistan right between the two showers. Perfect timing. Until he wanted to talk to me about “this new game.” I didn’t realize then how much different “this new game” was going to end up being from the other 10 “this new game”s that he had talked to me about over the last few years. So I just listened and said “uh huh, that sounds neat” while he went on and on and on and on about races and classes and blah blah blah blah blah oh yeah I love you too baby so glad you called!

Don’t get me wrong…I actually wasn’t even annoyed! I was super happy he called. And even happier that he was happy about something, excited. The first three months of his deployment were horrid and for him to call in a remotely good mood was enough to make my day brighter.

Over the next few months, I started hearing more and more about the game. He joined a guild. (What’s a guild again, baby?) But then he started talking about THE COMPUTER. You see this game is so EPICALLY AWESOME that apparently he can’t even play it on the computer that he bought less than a year ago. (Still trying to figure that one out…I guess this is kinda like those guys who can only watch football on gigantic big screen plasma TVs?) Graphics card, video card, sound card…all I heard was credit card blah blah credit card… So he started picking out parts for this epic gaming computer. No biggie…he’s just dreaming. I don’t have to worry about this until he’s home from AFG, right? No use having a computer that you can’t actually play on because you are on the other side of the world!

WRONG. My husband wanted to buy parts for his computer so he could assemble it over RnR. I did not like this idea. I didn’t want to think about video games, or computers, or anything that involved obliterating our savings account that I had worked so hard to build. All I wanted to think about was how we were going to lay in bed and stare into each others eyes for two weeks straight.

We fought for about three days. Maybe it wasn’t that long. But it was a lot. It wasn’t so much the money, although that was part of it. I felt like the game, the computer, everything–was more important than us. That he was looking forward to it all more than he was looking forward to just being with me and Ezra. But, now I know from talking with other military wives is that this is very normal guys-down-range behavior. Thinking about their families is almost too difficult, so they have to dream about all the toys they are going to get when they get back. It’s a diversion. A break for monotony. And for Russ, seeing computer parts on a wish list just wasn’t enough. He wanted them ordered. I didn’t get it then…but I understand it better now. Finally I just gave in. I spent our savings and ordered the parts.

The good news is that since he was coming home just after his birthday, I no longer had to come up with a present for him. WOOHOO! Instead, I individually wrapped every. single. computer part so he would have something to unwrap when he got home after being away for nine months.

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

He was pleasantly surprised. He made a BIG DEAL about opening every single one…which made me feel good about putting all the time and effort into wrapping.

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

(this picture is so epic how have I never posted it on my blog before?)

He spent the next few days setting up his computer, which included lots of keeping Little Man away from the computer room…

One full-on anxiety attack (note to fellow military-wives-of-gamers, putting together a new computer is a very stressful activity and should not be attempted by a soldier who has been in the United States for less than 48 hours)…

build gaming computer

Multiple phonecalls and trips to Best Buy, (we now know the Geek Squad people on first-name basis…this is Steve)…

Best Buy Geek Squad Gamer

…and buying a cheap new computer desk.

(“Daddy, spend time wif MEEEE?!?!?!”)

All in all, gamer birthday #1 was a big success. And even though THE GAME hadn’t been released yet, he still got some gaming time in with some FPS (first person shooter) games and some other stuff that I can’t remember.

From then on, the excitement about THE GAME just grew and grew. We had pretty much the same fight we had before RnR, shortly before homecoming. He was so excited about playing the game and heard a rumor that it would be releasing just after New Years, right after he got home from AFG. But we had made a deal that he wasn’t going to play for the first week he was home. But what if it releases that week? And I don’t get to play on Release Day? (and I’m thinking HORROR OF HORRORS you might just have to spend time with your family!!!) I really didn’t take it all well. Same issue as before…I wanted to hear about how much he was looking forward to being home with me and Ezra (which of course, he was, although he wasn’t doing very well at expressing it at the time), not how much he was looking forward to playing “that stupid game.” We were able to work through our feelings and our fears together after a few days of half-finished Skype fights (which are the WORST part of deployment). It all ended up being a moot point because by the time he got home there was no release date even on the calendar yet.

Over the last eight months, my husband got a taste of the game because he got to be a Beta tester of the game (which for a gamer is a huge opportunity…maybe like getting tickets to pre-season football games? i dunno…) I learned more and more about the game as he listened and talked about which kind of character he was going to play…I think I’m going to play a warrior…I decided I’m going to play a thief…No, I’m not going to play a thief, I’m going to play a guardian…no wait… And I just smile, ask semi-intelligent questions, and say “uh huh…well just play what you think you will enjoy the most!”

Finally…release date was announced. Release Day on August 28th with head start beginning midnight on August 25th. Two days after Russell’s birthday.

“What do they call it when everything intersects?”

(bonus points if you get this obscure movie reference)

I couldn’t have been happier. After a year and a half of hearing my man dream about playing this game, and playing on release day…after all the fights and fears and tears… he was FINALLY gonna get to play…and for his BIRTHDAY. SERIOUSLY?!?!!?! BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER! WAHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

(And I didn’t even have to spend any money!!!)

He was all hyped up about playing all weekend. He even took leave (no joke). We made a deal that he could have gobs of game time (rather than the carefully budgeted 2-3 hours once or twice a week that he gets normally), and then he would take me away for a vacation where he would have no computer access and I would have all of his attention. Win win!!! All I had to do was make him brownies and macaroni and cheese, keep the toddler occupied, and let him play.

Our plans were set…so much so that the morning of his birthday I FORGOT it was his birthday. Seriously. I remembered after he left for work. (And I’m thinking WORST WIFE EVER!) I wanted to make it up to him somehow, but I didn’t really know what to do or get him. Someone had suggested decorating the house or making a card. Eh, Russ wouldn’t care about that stuff. But I did it anyway, except I decorated his computer corner.

How to give your gamer husband an epic birthday

Then I thought to myself: What else would a husband who is going to play hours and hours of games in one sitting like a single man want? I thought back to when we first started dating, when Russell’s obsession interest with World of Warcraft bordered on addiction having a second job.

Gamefrog Cafe Winston Salem Hanes Mall

(Here I am visiting him at his friend’s gaming cafe)

And I remembered that there was this obscure energy drink that he liked to drink. And, to my knowledge, he hadn’t had one in like…four years. So I got online to see where they retailed. But their map didn’t really list any retailers. So I did the next most-sensible thing. I went to talk to the Geek Squad. Steve was busy. So I asked another guy. Who told me that the only place he had seen them was at a BP station 20 minutes out of town. So I drove there. (You know it’s love when…) But they didn’t have it. So instead I bought junk food…Cheetos, Combos, and Paydays (to add to the basket of granola bars, Sun Chips, and water bottles that I had already set out at home).

gamer gift basket

(I found out once I got home that they have actually started carrying that obscure energy drink at the shopette on post, and he has had them very recently. doh. And Green Monsters are still his favorite anyway! It’s the thought that counts, right?)

I also remembered that there’s this THING that he’s been talking about for about two years…a special gaming mouse/keyboard thingy with a funny name called a Nostromo. He hadn’t bought it because he wasn’t sure if he would like it and if it would work for the way he played. But, in attempts for making up for forgetting his birthday, I bought it for him.

I got home just before he did (like literally, his car pulled in right behind me). I didn’t have time to wrap the present or put together his goody basket.

But I told him, “I got you a present.”

His response: “I have no idea what it is…unless it’s a Nostromo.”



It turned out that the Nostromo actually wouldn’t work well for him and the way he plays, combined with his computer setup. Which means I got the cool-wife cred but still got to return it and get the money back. Sweet.

So gamer birthday #2 was also a huge success.

There’s no way I can top the last two birthdays. Next year all my husband is getting is a t-shirt that says “My Wife is Awesome.”

The moral of this story is that it really means a lot when a wife takes a genuine interest in the hobbies of her husband. Support your husband in the things that he does, even if you think it’s dumb.

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