Please note the inverted commas around “knowledge of gaming”. The secret here is that you don’t need years of gaming knowledge to be able to hold your own in a conversation about computer/video games. Please do try to show some genuine interest though – that bit’s pretty important.
I am going to share some of my tricks with you. These are techniques that I have used over the years to show my interest in my partner’s games through conversation. Use them well, young grasshopper, because once I’ve given all my secrets away, I hope you do realise that I won’t be able to use them anymore…
1. Ninja Googling
This is one of my favourite tricks. My partner often makes random references to his computer games and as much as I’d like ramble on with him, I just don’t know enough to keep it up for too long. Well thanks to the convenience of smartphones, I have an endless supply of gaming trivia right in my hands.
Here’s how it generally goes down. In the lead up to my sneaky google job, I’m often sitting up in bed happily Reddit-ing away on my phone while my partner finishes up his games or watches streams. He may make a passing comment like “Did you hear about that whole DQ incident at MLG?”. My ears prick up and my Googling fingers are at the ready, but on the outside I keep my cool, do not even look up from my phone and just respond, “hmm yeah, a little”. In the time it has taken me to say that, I have already done some lightning fast Googling on the topic and have gotted myself up to speed with whatever he mentioned. At this stage, I casually look up from my phone, tilt my head ever so slightly as though I’m considering his statement and as cool as a cucumber, add some mildly meaningful comment like “I mean, playing an ARAM during a tournament, they must’ve know something was up”.
2. Follow the right people on Twitter
Most social media platforms have extremely active eSports communities, but I find that Twitter is one of the best for keeping up with latest news while also being able to filter through the masses of information by different more specific topics. You can learn a lot in a very short time, especially if you can find the right people to follow. There are accounts for official game developers, pro players and just loads of people with a love for gaming.
My following a whole bunch of these Twitter folk, there have been a few times where I’ve been able to impress my partner by asking him about a new patch or game release before he’s even heard about it. When the Mists of Pandaria (aka #MoP) theatrical trailer was released, it was pure panda-monium on my Twitter feed. When there’s news, you’ll learn about it through Twitter.
3. Learn through gamer friends
Whenever I join a conversation with my male friends, I will learn about video games, football, Game of Thrones and, uh… attractive women, in no time at all. So if you’re after some talking points related to gaming, just find a friend who plays the same game as your partner, ask them to share their opinions of it, and listen and learn. You can even “borrow” the odd comment, e.g. “Did you see that ludicrous display last night?”
4. Use rhetorical questions combined with subtle sarcasm
Ahh, the glorious uncertainty the English language and confusing sentence delivery. You can make all kinds of wild statements and even if you’re completely off the mark, you can just laugh it off as a sarcastic comment. These tricky comments were particularly helpful when I was first trying to talk to my partner about his games and would be embarrassed that my comments sounded really stupid – they nicely hid my foolishness :)
For example, “Well, wasn’t that an effective move?”, or “He really thought that strategy through, didn’t he?”..
Word of caution, use sparingly. This could get really annoying after a while.
5. Actually listen when they’re telling you about their games
Finally, and most importantly, if your partner cares enough to tell you about their hobby, oh for goodness’ sake try to listen. You can learn so much about the game and about them, and it’s just good ol’ fashioned politeness. When my partner used to play Starcraft, I would learn and memorise the different Protoss structures just for fun. I was pretty chuffed with myself when I started recognising different strategies purely from the structures he was building, and I think he was pretty impressed too.
As much as you can use some little tricks here and there to try to show them that you’re interested, it definitely helps to listen to their stories. If you’re not already blessed with the “gift of the gaming gab”, I hope these techniques serve you well. As I mentioned before, the important things is to try to show some real interest in their hobby – the rest will come pretty naturally from there, these techniques are just meant to help the process along. Good luck!