You’re playing Fortnite. You’ve made it to the final ten, and the pressure’s on. Suddenly, there’s a buzz from your phone. It’s your significant other. You can either continue your dogged push toward victory, or respond to keep the dwindling flames of your romance alive. Which do you choose?
Our hyper-connected future society brings with it many time-saving conveniences, but we’ve also been saddled with new expectations to match. If you don’t text back quickly—especially when your SO is asking about something time-sensitive—you might come off seeming like you don’t care. If you’re playing a single-player game, it’s not a huge deal. You can just pause. But a high-stakes competitive multiplayer game like Fortnite? That’s another story, potentially one that ends with your avatar six feet under mere inches away from the victory podium.
Some players, though, are getting clever about staying in touch with their partners. In order to respond to texts, they’ve taken to hiding their avatars in bushes and hoping for the best while their hands are off the keyboard. Others even build forts around themselves to dissuade would-be conversation (and video game character) killers.
It’s become a sort of test of the strength of people’s relationships, albeit a joke-y one. Some Fortnite diehards, however, are failing that test. Badly. Here, for instance, is a faux-petition to “end Fortnite” because it’s stolen too many boyfriends.
And here is somebody making a... questionable call:
It’s not just Fortnite, though. I asked people how they handle this crushing conundrum in other games, and got a variety of responses. Round-based games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six, I heard from multiple people, are the easiest. Just wait for a round to end and use the minute or two of downtime between rounds to fire off a couple texts. Easy. Heck, you can even text while waiting to respawn after dying, though that’s a riskier dance on multiple levels. After all, you might die again, or maybe in the hurried confusion of the moment, you’ll type a text to your SO but forget to send it. It’s a minefield, really.
I also heard about complications stemming from life circumstances. A friend of mine, Courtney, hasn’t dated many people who play games as much as she does. So instead of explaining the ins and outs of games she’s playing, she just defaults to telling partners that she’s “regular busy.” Another friend of mine, Uriah, is in a long-distance relationship, so communication via text and phone takes priority.
“There’s a lotta messages of ‘Sorry no voice chat tonight. Talking with SO,’” he said of his time playing multiplayer games. “There’s also times where I delay hitting X to respawn to answer a text real quick.”
Even I used to have a variation on this problem with Overwatch. My then-partner would come over to visit, but there’s a locked gate outside my apartment. Often, I’d get a “let me in” text while I was the middle of a match, at which point I’d race out the door and down the steps, tear the gate open, give her a hug, and then run back inside in hopes that the game’s idle timer hadn’t ticked down to zero and given me the boot.
I’ll let you decide whether or not that was romantic.