Playing games with other people made me realize that I’m a monster

Image: Nintendo Life / Nintendo

My partner is the most patient man I have ever met. That’s one of the things I appreciate about him the most, especially since I’m his opposite. He is lawful good towards my chaotic neutral. I am a cyclone, and he is calm waters. Opposites attract, right?

For most of our relationship, that dynamic—his patience combined with my spontaneity—made us a great team, able to support each other in exactly the way we ourselves lack.

At least until we launch a co-op game.

I play games pretty chaotic, I admit it. Long videos make me tired – I’d rather live story than it’s slowly introduced into my eyes – and I tend to gravitate toward playing characters with light fingers because the adrenaline rush you get stealing a sword from someone’s pocket is something I’ll never get in real life . My partner, on the other hand, is the type of person who reads everything carefully to make sure everyone understands. He’s going to be playing characters that act, you know, like real people, not the weird little thieving gremlins that I play who are constantly crouching and putting buckets on people’s heads.

I know. I’m terrible. But the thing is, when I play solo, no one cares, and I have a lot more fun playing my way. With him, everything is done faster, and I like it. And most of the time it doesn’t matter.

But when we played Divinity: Original Sin 2, a game that I had already played quite a lot on my own, everything changed. Suddenly, my tendency to pummel A through long dialogue to get to the heart of the adventure meant that he had no idea what was going on. My tendency to rummage through someone’s belongings while they’re looking the other way led us into battles we couldn’t possibly win. I was like a wild kid with sticky fingers, and he was just trying to keep the peace. And the less said about my overwhelming need to manage inventory exactly – which was complicated by the fact that I could see it differently organized (not wrong, just different) inventory on the same screen as mine – so much the better.

We didn’t finish the game and that was a shame, but it made sense. Our playstyles are good on their own, but they don’t mix well because I monster.

But lately, I’ve been wanting to play Stardew Valley co-op again. More specifically, I want to play Stardew Valley. with him. I played hundreds of hours and he never even touched the game, so I knew it would be hard to suppress my instincts to take control. After all, Stardew Valley exactly the kind of game where you can use the minimum-maximum, using every day in the most efficient way to get the maximum profit, and this is how I always played it on my own – as a challenge to myself to become the best farmer ever on the farm, with a beautiful, organized farm and a series of color-coded chests filled with at least one of everything I’ll ever need.

But when you share something with someone, you must definitely give up control of at least half of it, otherwise it is not what you are sharing. It would not be very kind of me to insist that I am in charge of the storage system, because then it would not be our storage system, and a storage system that you don’t understand is really hard to use.

Soapbox: playing games with other people makes me realize that I'm a monster 4
Here are (some of) my storage system in my personal file that I am very proud of – Image: Kate Gray

So, instead of letting my chaotic wild inner kid run wild like I usually do, I channel that energy into the background, doing my best to give it an edge, because god knows those first two seasons in the game can bog down. I use the knowledge of my wiki to help, not hinder.

This means taking items to the community center so we can unlock shortcuts and features that make the game more fun. This means going into mining to get bug meat to turn into bait so he can fish all he wants, which is what he likes the most in the game. I don’t want to iron out all the lumps and bumps in the game – I just want to make sure he’s having a good time without too much friction, you know?

Ouch. No.


I… I’m doing min-max again. i minimize it pleasure.


Postscript: I made him read this article and he said, “I don’t think you’re a monster!” and then he told me that I should add this to the end of the article so that everyone knows that he does not consider me a monster. He is wrong, but I appreciate it.

What are your terrible cooperative habits? Have you ever ended a relationship because of the gremlin style of play? Let me know in the comments!

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