Six days ago, “How Diablo III Told Me My Marriage Was Over” from Kotaku started making the rounds among my gaming friends. One of them asked me for my opinion on it. As a woman who has had numerous struggles when I was younger with gaming boyfriends, I was expecting something related to time spent gaming. Even gaming together for long periods of time can create issues, due mostly to the fact that there is a layer of human interaction removed when it’s taking place in-game. This is an interesting discussion to me, and it can be very revealing about the nature of relationships.
That’s not what this article is about.
Let me preface this by saying that I’m basically your casual gamer these days. I love playing videogames, and I get really into the franchises I have time to play, but time has ALWAYS been a factor for me and gaming has never been a huge part of my life. In spite of that, I do still try to keep on the up so I can at least discuss gameplay, even if I don’t get to experience it myself. That said, I could be out of touch with where she’s coming from, because I don’t get emotional about videogames.
The thing is, this article isn’t even about videogames. It’s about the author’s victimization, which ran in direct contrast to her own stated actions and self-absorption.
I don’t actually know what I was intended to get from this article, even though Tiffany Clairborne took to Tumblr and Twitter to offer some kind of explanation. My response piece is based on things that made me ask, “What the fuck?” and what I imagine she was trying to get us to see. All I saw was one person unintentionally revealing themselves to be a major part of the problem, wanting us to see her as victim without proving why.
The first glaring issue was that she admitted to pulling out her fucking DS on a first date. Though her ex-husband claims that’s when he “knew,” and he apparently found this to be adorably shy, I found it inconceivably rude. I understand nervousness on a first meeting, especially when you’ve been behind a computer screen for weeks, months, whatever, but pulling out a personal game system goes beyond even pulling out your cellphone. You are entirely removing yourself from the face-to-face interaction.
She DID NOT say, “I really wanted to break the ice, so I thought I’d show him a new game I was playing on my DS to get us talking comfortably.” She said, “I just kind of fell into it for a couple of minutes before closing it and going back to him”—what in the blue fuck? What I saw was: “I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HANDLE ADULT HUMAN INTERACTION TO THE POINT THAT I AM GOING TO PLAY A HANDHELD VIDEOGAME INSTEAD OF ATTEMPT TO TALK TO THIS PERSON.” She muses that it made her look “submissive,” but it just makes her look self-absorbed: so concerned with her own feelings of anxiousness that she takes deliberate steps to remove herself from the situation.
I think it’s also important to note that there is never any indication given of the type of “relationship” this was online before the first meeting, or how often they met after that, or when they decided to move in together and get married. There’s deliberately no information given about the ages of either party or a timeline regarding their interaction. These are all things that provide context, a context that could either bolster her point or diminish it. The fact that this knowledge is not given to readers seems to point to the latter.
From that first meeting, she gives us one example of an effort to come together, and they choose videogames: again, an activity where there is some level of the human element removed. It seems like her answers to herself were:
1. Counseling — Where they both have to sit together with a complete stranger and talk about problems. This idea makes MANY people uncomfortable by its very nature. She flatly explains his desire to not go to counseling as “he said no.” Not an OUNCE of understanding or acknowledgment that, while counseling is something that some are willing to do, the very idea just makes some people totally fucking uncomfortable. Was that how he felt? Did she even bother to explore his reasons why not? Did counseling in his parents marriage only seem to make things worse? Did she give a shit? We don’t and can’t know, but what she chooses to tell us is only that he said no.
2. Gaming Together — Where they don’t sit and talk about their problems (as she says, any time they would talk, she would just bawl afterwards. This is another element completely glossed over, all we get to hear is that she cried, the point of which seems to be “all he was doing was making me cry”), instead they just have some good, old-fashioned fun once a week together. They try it once.
They play The Simpsons Arcade which sounds like good, honest fun. There is not one detail about how the actual session went: did they laugh together? Did they make jokes? Did she feel anything at all? Or did she push him into something so intentional and inorganic that it was as stale as everything else because it was such a clearly forced situation? Was she expecting such a magic turnaround that literally anything that happened was going to disappoint her?
All she says is, “The pain was minimal.” While there aren’t any details about the situation, it was still SOMEHOW painful. This reads to me like a self-fulfilling prophecy: expecting the other person to do all the legwork and make things amazing again, and then pouting when it’s not what you expected and making zero effort to try again. SHE didn’t get what SHE wanted, so forget it.
Then we jump straight into the press beta for Diablo III, which is the point where we really see what kind of person she is in a relationship. We go from “He was watching me play” to “He said I didn’t deserve to play.” Let’s stop and think about this.
You know that your husband has been waiting for Diablo III for an entire decade. The game means exactly nothing to you except for the concept, which sounds fun to you. You get to review the game as part of the press. Do you REALLY want to help heal the marriage?
LET HIM PLAY FIRST.
In fact, you’d probably get an even better review out of watching a seasoned player who adores the game experience it, and they could even give you some good perspective to think about when it comes time for you to play so you can write your review. He’s been waiting for this forever, and you’re going to fucking tease him by playing it right in front of him and expecting him to sit with his thumbs up his ass?
Telling him, “I have a surprise for you: I get Diablo III for being a member of the video game press, and I want you to play it first!” would probably light the fuck out of his fire, and you know what? It’s free, and takes absolutely zero effort on your part.
Instead, we just get an insult he threw out with no clue what lead up to his reason for saying it. We don’t even get a, “We were just sitting there silently, and out of the blue, he inexplicably said I don’t deserve to play.” What he said was bullshit, but there is no context for his comment, just the comment. My instinct tells me that there is WAY more to the story than presented. I generally consider most of what I hear, especially juicy gossip of this nature (which I love, unashamedly) to be suspect. This is not just suspect, but this is the fucking Titanic ramming the iceberg. One more point of “Look at what a victim I am!”
We finally get to release night, where she throws in a bit about him, heaven forbid, being late from the gym (does he have a job where he works odd shifts, like 10a-7p, that would make him have to go to the gym late? We don’t get to know) as a pointless jab. As a triathlete to whom fitness is very fucking important, and having to work around my odd hours to get to the gym, I found that to be absurd.
A friend of mine pointed out here that upon starting the game, neither of them chose healing classes. Most people reading her article may have already known that, but for laypeople like me who aren’t familiar with Diablo classes, this is an exceptionally important detail.
This is where things get spectacularly shitty, but not for the reasons Tiffany Claiborne wants us to think so.
One thing she does explicitly tell us is that she was “directing things pretty well, but trying no to be too overbearing.” You’ve played the game once before, and yet you feel the need to direct someone who FUCKING LOVES THE DIABLO SERIES through the beginning of the game, rather than allowing him to experience the sheer joy of figuring shit out as he goes? What the hell is this goddamn word “direct?” Why do you have to even TRY not to be overbearing? As far as she’s told us, she played this game approximately ONCE, so she could review it. But she has to “direct” him. Not annoying at all.
Next, the crux of the article: he “let” her die. Her own description of the event is totally cringe-worthy, so I’m reposting it for maximum effect:
“So, here we are, fighting our way through the very beginning of Act I and we separate and all of a sudden I manage to aggro everything in a pretty large radius and I don’t know how that happened and they’re attacking and oh my god sweetie I don’t wanna die hey can you help me they’re killing me um seriously can you help because I can’t get range and I’m mostly good for range attacks and… dead.”
I literally cannot imagine playing videogames with someone so unrepentantly obnoxious. This is exactly what i would expect FROM A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL WHO HAS NEVER TOUCHED A VIDEOGAME EVER BEFORE AND IS CONFUSED AND IS BEING COMPLETELY ABANDONED WITH NO EXPLANATION OF WHAT TO DO. You know what fucking happens sometimes in videogames, especially a newer videogame you aren’t expertly familiar with? Shit comes at you, and you fucking die. And if I’m correct, though I am no MMO player, there is often a space of seconds when you’ve been suddenly attacked by every fucking thing that someone could come help you. It sounds to me in this situation like it would have been a completely idiotic fool’s errand for him to go try and “help.”
Recall that this is his first time getting to play the game—the one he’s been waiting ten years for. He wants to play. He doesn’t want to go back and forth rescuing you from bullshit situations, especially when you’ve already gotten to play the game and should be a little more self-aware than that. Imagine if they were playing Mario Kart 64. She’s in 8th, he’s in 1st. This is the equivalent of expecting him to sit and wait for her at the finish line so she can place 7th at the end instead of dead last.
Increasingly self-entitled, she says she cries DURING THE VIDEOGAME and then she cries herself to sleep instead of getting back to, you know, playing the damn game and having fun. It’s all about HER and HER experience.
And I love the little insert: “Except everyone I’ve ever told this story to who has any Diablo experience is always as shocked as I was.” You mean, they aren’t hyper-aware of your oversensitivity, and aren’t at all just agreeing with you so they don’t have to hear about this totally absurd shit anymore and/or risk hurting your feelings because you absolutely cannot accept any situation where you are not treated like the most delicate flower? Most people are not looking to start shit, and telling you that you’re wrong, especially when they’re friends, would obviously invite an intense overreaction.
So. We’ve learned that this person is 1. a child, 2. completely lacks understanding of human interaction, 3. takes games so seriously she is the reason people think that videogames cause school shootings, 4. is so self-absorbed that she can’t see beyond her own wants and needs to those of others.
And then we get Portal 2, the supposed antithesis of the Diablo III experience.
The first thing we learn about her new boyfriend is that without him, she may or may not have committed suicide over the Diablo III incident (I’m exaggerating, but I’m referring to this passage: “There is a spark in my life, thankfully. If there wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have made it to today, to be honest,” which reads like the age-old “Can’t live without a boyfriend”). She talks about her online boyfriend getting “more serious,” though again, this is totally incontextual. How serious is an online tryst while you’re a married woman? “Online Relationship” means a thousand different things to a thousand different people. Some people consider it the purest form of love, as you have to find creative ways to express your feelings and who you are. I consider it laughable, as I believe you can never fully trust someone’s self-presentation online. Both are completely legitimate viewings of online relationships, but both of them are completely opposite viewings, which utterly changes the meaning to any one reader..
She talks about how AAAAMMMAAAZZZZZINNNGGG it is to play Portal 2 with this new guy because it’s sooooo fun and cooperative!
But you know what? The moment she says he’s her “dream guy” is also the moment where she explains that he did whatever the fuck she told him to.
She’s in charge. He takes her directions. He does things her way. He doesn’t fight her, fuss at her, or challenge her. He just does whatever the fuck she tells him to do in-game, a game she obsesses over and adores and knows very well; a game that he had a copy of, but didn’t play.
Aren’t we at an interesting juxtaposition with the Diablo III story? A game she’s unfamiliar with, so she can’t take charge. A game where her husband wants to operate independently of her, and she absolutely falls apart when he does so. A game he does know like the back of his hand, and adores, and knows more about than she does… and that concept is fucking earth-shattering to her.
She has a wonderful experience playing Portal because the game and the playing was entirely about her. That’s why it “feels like teamwork.”
You want to know why I believe Tiffany Claiborne’s marriage failed fantastically? Because a marriage or a relationship IS about teamwork. It’s about give and take, and seeing each other as equals. You have to grow the fuck up and have to make a few sacrifices that don’t include not choosing the day’s videogame. Based on the lack of available information, I’m guessing they probably rushed into the marriage, and this was more a discovery about how much easier it is to make believe that you’re the center on someone’s world online, and then when you move in together, you get to discover that he’s just a person: an individual with needs, wants, desires, a job, and a life outside of you.
Tiffany posted thousands of excuses throughout the entire day on her twitter account. That there was more to the story, that her therapist wondered why she didn’t leave sooner, that she left out certain details because the writing wasn’t about whatever she was being questioned on.
But it’s important to acknowledge that a small part of a therapists’ job is to help you validate your feelings so that you can process through them. Few therapists come from the perspective of telling you that your reaction was “wrong” or why. Your reaction to a situation is your reaction. However, an important part of processing through a difficult situation is re-examining your own reaction to it. While at the outset a part of overcoming emotions is allowing yourself to feel them in the instant, another important part of overcoming them is the ability to acknowledge when they were JUST a reaction. For someone seemingly so used to being validated and constantly seeking that validation, there is a total lack of introspection.
When you only surround yourself by people who are going to validate you and not challenge you, you will never be satisfied in a relationship. You will constantly continue to have experiences like the one above and feel like everyone is always out to get you just because they disagree with you. You will always lack conviction, you will always lack understanding of social interaction, and you will always be wanting to go cry under a blanket. It’s a miserable existence, refusing to accept that you can be wrong and that you can learn and grow. Insecurity will always rule you if you never choose the path that challenges you and always choose the path that validates everything you say or feel. Eventually, you have nothing left to offer.
THAT is what I believe bothered people about this article. It’s self-rumination on utter self-absorption, it’s about always being the victim and never actually overcoming anything, standing up for oneself, or examining the role YOU play (or don’t play) in your own relationships and interactions.
At the end of the day, Tiffany Claiborne and her husband may just have been wrong for each other, and found that online build-up is not always indicative of what an actual relationship is going to be like. But the only thing she should have learned from that relationship is that she is incapable of holding an actual relationship with someone, because that would require relating. I think you need to be on your own for awhile, Tiffany, and get your shit together and work on handling criticism, disagreements, and conviction in your SELF before you start putting anything into another person. The lesson is that people need to be loved back.
- P. C. Van Orton
(Source: unisexy, via skippylynn)
(Source: osmayd, via skippylynn)
pickles the drummer wanted an intense and dramatic photo of herself
(Source: klodust, via buried-deep-within)
(Source: fondue-ing, via buried-deep-within)
(Source: splitminded, via buried-deep-within)
(Source: b-a-d-reputation, via buried-deep-within)
(Source: rickabilly, via buried-deep-within)
(Source: arthola, via buried-deep-within)