Can Video Games Lead To Love?

Video games have moved beyond sedentary entertainment for kids and competitive geeks. According to experts, bonding over game play can be a real win for those looking for fresh date ideas.

By Julie Taylor

hen it comes to dating, dinner and a movie become both boring and expensive after awhile. But that doesn’t mean you have to fall into a romance rut. In fact, the key to fun and adventure might be in your own living room: your video game system! Yes, a Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, or even your PC could breathe new life into your dating routine.

The odds that your date is into video games are increasing, too: Almost 64 percent of people in the
This play time revs up the fun factor with your partner.
U.S. have played a video game in the past six months, according to a recent study. And the profile of gamers is changing. Once thought to be primarily enjoyed by fanboys and 40-Year-Old Virgin types, video games have been embraced by the masses. In fact, these days it’s far more geeky NOT to like them.

But could video games actually lead to love? Game on! “Just like any shared hobby over which people can bond, video games make a fun and engaging way for couples to spend time with each other while enjoying a shared sense of adventure, whimsy and excitement — and, due to their interactive nature, can many times be even more engaging than film, TV and other passive forms of entertainment,” says video game expert Scott Steinberg, CEO of TechSavvy Global and author of Get Rich Playing Games.

Plus, dopamine production in the brain doubles during video game play — and dopamine is the same hormone your brain releases when you’re in love. Bonus! “Couples who play video games together gain extra bonding time in an activity that pushes many pleasure buttons and even changes your brain chemistry,” says dating coach Hadley Finch, author of Tribe of Blondes. “This play time revs up the fun factor with your partner, which will strengthen your intimate bond.”

Don’t feel comfortable having your date over to your place for a Wii session just yet? Never fear: Restaurant chains like uWink, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, and Dave & Buster’s offer a festive gamer atmosphere away from your home base. Many sports bars offer trivia nights, too.

However, not every video game is ideal for a date. The faint of heart might be turned off by a violent war game like Call of Duty, and a bloody shoot-‘em-up adventure doesn’t exactly set the tone for romance. So how can singles choose the right game for date night? “The options here are as infinite as there are fish in the sea,” says Steinberg. “You’ve got party games that can get people up and moving, puzzlers that get their mental wheels spinning, action-adventures
A little friendly competition can be healthy, too.
that evoke a powerful sense of storytelling and empathy... With a variety of titles covering virtually any topic under the sun on as many platforms from PCs, PlayStation 3s, Xbox 360s and Wiis to smartphones and Facebook, your choices are infinite. With countless titles meant to be consumed in both short bursts and longer-term sessions, video games are ideally suited to any lifestyle or interest.”

Most video game experts say games that offer a co-op mode — a feature in video games that allows players to work together as teammates — are the most fun for couples. But don’t limit yourself. A little friendly competition can be healthy, too.

Here are our top five picks for the best video games for couples:

1. LEGO Star Wars.
This game takes teamwork, communication and cooperation, which are all skills that will serve you well as you navigate the road to romance. In all the LEGO games (like LEGO Indiana Jones or LEGO Harry Potter), you work together instead of playing against each other. We like the sound of that.

2. Hasbro Family Game Night.
On a date, board games can feel more like bored games. But playing digital versions of Sorry!, Connect 4, and Boggle on the Wii or Xbox is surprisingly entertaining — especially when Mr. Potato Head makes an appearance. (Just don’t let the word “family” in the title scare you off!)

3. Rock Band.
You can rock out together with you on vocals, your date on bass guitar… or vice versa. Plus, you can each play at your own level of difficulty. Wow, you really do make beautiful music together!

4. World of Warcraft.
“RPGs like this one allow individuals to role-play their every fantasy — from being a dashing knight to a damsel in distress,” says Steinberg. Warning: It’s addictive!

5. Wii Sports.
Sports games are a great way to show off your competitive spirit and get you both off the couch. You can work up a sweat and get physical without actually getting physical, so to speak. If the date is going well (and you’re hoping for more), you can even make a friendly wager: the loser buys dinner on the next date.

So go ahead, give video games a try. You just might find that the couple who plays together stays together!

Julie Taylor is a writer in Los Angeles who’s written for Redbook and other publications.
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