The Power of Couch Co-Op: The Dungeon Crawl from Girlfriend to Fiancée to Wife

The Power of Couch Co-Op: The Dungeon Crawl from Girlfriend to Fiancée to Wife

A Story by Josh Siegal

RNG (a gaming acronym for ‘Random Number Generator’ – meaning essentially divine luck) has absolutely blessed me. Somehow, I ended up with a wife who is equal parts friend, lover, and of course – couch co-op videogame partner. However, my history of women and videogames has not always been a pleasant one. From a now ex-girlfriend showing up unannounced while I was in the middle of a huge World of Warcraft raid, or another ex-girlfriend not understanding why unwinding with some Call of Duty is a needed respite, it was clear why we ended up as exes.  If only they could understand that the world of gaming is an amazing place to build the skills needed in a successful relationship.

As boyfriend & girlfriend, early in the relationship, myself and the now wife discovered a joint passion and history with gaming. As we were spending a ton of time together, it just made sense to gravitate towards games with great couch co-op experiences (although Fallout 4 is fantastic, there is only so much you can watch). Thanks to a recommendation from a gaming guru friend of ours, we dived into Gears of War 4.

Exploring the story of Gears of War 4 in split-screen was a fun adventure. We felt a joint sense of accomplishment in clearing missions, and we would routinely high-five and laugh at epic moments of destruction and carnage. However, it was the joy of online Horde Mode where I truly felt us growing as a couple. Relationships, good ones at least, take work.  This work becomes infinitely easier with three key components:

-       Clear goals at what the team wants to accomplish,

-       Role clarity on how you’ll each work to get there, and

-       Great communication over-arching the first two items.

We struggled early on in Gears’ challenging Horde mode. One misstep, an overly tough wave of baddies, or a weak teammate would bring the whole squad down. That was when we decided to ensure that the boyfriend and girlfriend duo on the couch were the heart, soul, and backbone of future squads. 

We looked at what makes a team successful, and jointly determined which one of us would enjoy which roles. My job – scout. Running into danger, gathering resources, and holding off the enemy waves in the early rounds. My partner – the integral engineer. Using the resources to fortify our position, holding back in the early waves and waiting for me to become overwhelmed, and then unleashing hell & fury from her turrets as the empowered later waves of enemies rolled in. As my scout would hastily retreat from a seemingly endless horde, I’d always smile hearing the love of my life scream at the screen, “It’s my time now!” as she casually mowed down enemy after enemy.

As fiancé and fiancée (yeah, I know, obnoxious) we took our learnings from Gears of War 4 and transferred them to a game I had enjoyed as a single player years before, Diablo 3. We had learned from our previous mistakes. We knew we wanted to be a self-sufficient duo. We did our research before installing the game and decided that I would play the role of human meat shield – crusader. My fiancée had an itchy trigger finger and wanted to blow things up, so she took the more fragile, but way more destructive wizard. The plan was simple – all the bad guys gravitate towards me, and then this beautifully destructive wizard rains hell, fire, and brimstone down upon them. Seems like smooth sailing, so how did hours of destruction, leveling-up, and farming better gear help our relationship?

If there is one thing every single human being needs in order to be capable of being part of a successful relationship it’s this – patience.

As I mentioned, I had previous experience with Diablo 3 (and every game in this series). For the fiancée, it was her first foray into the world of action-RPGs, and she needed to get her feet wet before I jacked up the difficulty level. We struggled for a bit, didn’t find our groove, and then had a great conversation on how we should scale difficulty, how I could help her get up to speed faster, and the pace at which we should push through levels. Again, communication is the key.

Today, I am happily married to this beautiful engineer/wizard/rock star wife. On the hunt to find our next big couch co-op adventure, we picked up Overcooked 2 as a fun, light-hearted cooperative endeavour to keep our reflexes fast, and our communication on-point. Who knows, it may even get me more interested in helping out around the kitchen.

So there you have it. Leveled-up from boyfriend to fiancé, and even managed to achieve the prestige class of husband. All with videogames and couch co-op adventures as a mainstay in our relationship (this even made it into our vows). One piece of advice for aspiring couch co-op relationships builders, be careful with the Divinity: Original Sin series. It was almost game over for our relationship when I accidentally got my wife thrown in jail for some very minor in-game crimes. Funny that we never gave that game a second try…