A quest for common ground …

I’m not really sure how to write this and not destroy the noble and righteous name that is Had A Few Beers.

Really, the words I’m about to write may collapse the walls insulating our heroic, and might I say “inspired” blog as easily as the Roman siege engines ripped apart Carthage’s defense during the third Punic war.

Stoic really ...

Stoic really …

Was that reference obscure for you? Well then strap in, because it’s about to get worse.

Be sure to check for liquids that might, if spilled, damage the device your reading this on. When you discover the dark secret I’m about reveal, in a fit of panic, rage or orgasmic joy, you could knock that drink over and cause untold millions of dollars in collective damage?

If you haven’t checked for said liquids you should. Please remove them from your immediate reading area now.

Thanks. Did you also wipe up that little water sweat ring that forms when you put down a cold drink on a warm surface? If not, you should do such now. (That directive has little to do with this blog and everything to do with my having lived with a clean-freak for the last 600 years.)

Now, onto the revelation. DRUMROLL PLEASE …

My wife played Everquest with me!

No one was held at gunpoint, the lives of kittens did not hang in the balance.

She willingly agreed to play Everquest with me.

This came about because of reasons.

Like many couples, we try to do something together that’s just us once a week. Also, like many couples, that quickly devolves into, “Let’s sit our fat-asses on the couch and watch a movie together because that’s easy.”

One particular Saturday she suggested I watch some “chick flick” with her and I jokingly said something to the effect of “Only if you spend the same amount of time next Saturday playing Everquest with me.”

She, to my befuddlement, agreed. I spent the next two hours watching a movie about a couple who were clearly meant to be together, but who were separated by circumstance, then eventually come together, break up and then, and this is the shocking part, get back together to live happily ever after.

I did this without making rude comments or pointing out the absurdity of the situation. I don’t know how I did it either. I think I did it by thinking about how I would introduce her to online gaming while appeared to give a shit about the upwardly mobile woman in the movie and her romantic interest.

I do remember thinking, “How the hell am I going to do this?”

When I asked her what kind of video games she had played in the past, she said Pong. That was the last, and it turns out, only video game she’s ever played.

Pong, as in two pixilated sticks batting a pixilated ball back and forth across a, presumably, black and white television that used actual vacuum tubes.

I considered reminding her of her short stint with “Words with Friends” but thought better of it.

Evercrack, World or Dorkness, and all of these role-playing games are not that complicated, at a basic level. All online games are routinely mastered by legions of racist/homophobic 13-year-olds, as any online gamer can attest.

I don’t know if I should have set her down with a large white board for a 45-minute class about computer gaming in general and online gaming specifically or what, but I did realize that my wife was not so much a gaming partner as she was a gaming student.

Like this?

Like this?

Look, like it or not, most online fantasy-type games can be linked to Dungeons and Dragons. For those not familiar with the concept of Dungeons and Dragons, let me give you the Reader’s Digest version.

Dungeons and Dragon’s founder Gary Gygax basically read a crapton of fantasy novels and then physically had sex with all of the books. Really, Gygax carved a hole into each book and made sweet, sweet love to each of them.

The product of that coupling are today’s online games with racist/homophobic 13-year-olds somehow added into the mix.

Gygax basically codified the whole thing. He wrote down that Gandolf was a wizard, wizards are smart. Bilbo was a thief, thiefs are sneaky, Aragorn is a ranger, rangers are fast and good with bow and arrow. Trolls are on the internet making people angry. That kind of shit.

Yet, my wife has never heard of Gary Gygax and I’m pretty sure she’s slept through every one of my monthly drunken, “Hey let’s watch the Lord of the Rings until I pass out” super fun events.

There’s tons of better, more in-depth source material out there if you’re interested, but in a nut shell most (not all) online games have a variety of classes (think job or purpose) that a player takes on while playing the game. All players have to choose a class or their online character is unemployed and is forced to watch a lot of daytime TV.

My first task was to introduce my wife to the concept of “classes.” Everquest has a handy summary page that outlined what each class did and she, while rolling her eyes, read it. She decided on the enchanter. Which was great, until she decided that her race (yeah, these games have races like elves, dwarfs, trolls and ogres) was going to be troll. When I explained to her that certain races had restrictions on what class they could be and that trolls weren’t allowed to be enchanters she declared the game to a racist bunch of bullshit. Which still cracks me up.

An appropriate race was selected and a few moments later we were in the game!

I was excited and had like 87 nerd boners all at the same time.

She was in the game’s tutorial and she wanted to read every bit of instruction the tutorial provided. I’ve been playing this shit for years and quickly jumped into “facilitate her learning process.”

Are you laughing at that last sentence? You’re laughing aren’t you? If not you should be.

She later described me as basically a drill sergeant for dorks.

“Push that button! Move the mouse like this! There will be an inspection of your copper pieces at 0400 and control your DPS until the tank has positive control, no not like that, like this!”

Yeah, I had decided people who are paid money to think though the intricate and detailed process of introducing someone to a complex game were idiots and that I knew better.

The high points from my CliffNotes tutorial were that she equated her inventory with her character’s closet and, for her, the basics of movement in the game was like watching a drunk baby attempt to walk. WASD (the keys on the keyboard that control your characters movement) were lost on her. Even now, a few weeks in, her skill at using the keys is barely at the level of a toddler that’s had too much sugar and who knows … I’m really crappy with baby analogies.

When I asked her the next day if she had fun her answer was, “I don’t know.”

She explained that she had no idea what she was doing and was just following my directions. Nothing about what she did at my direction made sense. She had pressed the number 1 on the keyboard because I told her too, not because she understood doing so caused her character to perform an action that was associated with the number 1 key.

Crestfallen, I asked if she would be kind enough to give it another try later.

She agreed and I went back to the drawing board.

I asked my guild for help, because fuck you I’m in a guild. But they were no help. Most of their advice ranged from how effective the enchanter was at high-end raiding, to mocking me for mistakenly referring to another (male) guild member as “hun” several weeks back. (That’s fucking hysterical! ~Fran)

The next time Dagmar and I played she picked a Ranger and I let her read every damned thing the tutorial had to offer. If the tutorial talked about how you could load a CD into the computer’s CD tray in order to listen to music, I let her read it. Years ago Everquest had an online feature that allowed you to order a real life pizza through some national chain. If that was briefed in the tutorial, she fucking read it because I butted the fuck out. I was there for any questions she had, but otherwise I kept my too-clever-by-half mouth shut.

It seemed to be working. She understood that she needed to attack the monsters with little to no prompting from yours truly. She grasped, on a basic level, the difference between a melee attack, a ranged attack and a spell attack.

What I mean to say is that things progressed. In a month or two I could see her and I having adventures in Everquest together. Fighting against the evil side-by-side. Dagmar’s ranger, Lordana, and I would eventually be fighting side-by-side, questing, slaying rare evil beasts and amassing great treasures. It would be our thing you see, our little fun thing to do on Saturdays when the weather was shitty.

Progress had been made, she still had a lot to learn, but that would come with time. This plan was going great. She dinged level 14 and asked if she needed to get new spells. She attacked the monster I was currently fighting instead of dragging every other monster within a 50-mile radius into the battle. She understood that the blue pants I have were better for her “Armor Class” than the green ones, even if she thought the green ones looked better on her character’s butt.

This was going great. I felt like we’d reached a common ground. I vowed to myself that any shitty chick flick she wanted to watch I’d try my hardest to enjoy, because clearly we had much more in common than I’d thought. After all, here we were, 17 decades into our marriage and she’d tried and liked, and was becoming skilled at something I enjoyed for the first time in the history of Toddmar.

Until this Sunday when I overheard her talking to our daughter on the phone.

“Yeah, we’re playing the game together,” she said.

Mumble mumble, I heard from her daughter through the shitty iPhone held to Dagmar’s ear.

“No, what? No, it’s fucking stupid. What? No I’m only doing it because he loves it so much when I do.”

So, anyone want to play Everquest?

2 responses to “A quest for common ground …

  1. Oh dear Gawd! I can totally see this between you two. Alex tried to get me involved in “EverDork” and I never could last beyond 15 minutes. When his wizard bought a cape, I couldn’t understand why it didn’t come in different colors. I thought his wizard needed a red cape (not a blue one). I did approve oh his flying monkey though — but I wondered who fed him and where he went to the bathroom and stuff. I thoguht PETA needed to get involved. I think that was the point when EverQuest never got mentioned between the two of us again.


    Well, for what it’s worth, EQ separated my ‘better half’ and me. Don’t get me wrong…all for the best as I can happily swear to 9 years later.

    EQ was the ONLY thing that she and I mutually enjoyed. But…she enjoyed running around cybering with guys…or girls, frankly…while I was interested in Raiding and making friends, and driving around America meeting my Guild mates and such…

    Eventually it paid off though…she finally cybered one guy that she decided to leave me and go be with…good riddance to bad rubbish. My life has improved ten fold and hers has turned to shit. I couldn’t be happier – on both points. LOL

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