Man forces woman to watch him play video games for 8 hours

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I dated a man who developed a passion for playing vintage video games after we began dating. Unfortunately, I couldn't see the warning signs because they weren't there.

When we first met, he was a hardworking individual who spent his free time helping others. Then someone gave him an old Atari video game console and a few cartridges, and everything changed.

Playing video games was the only thing he wanted to do on his days off. While I could respect him having his own interests and hobbies, which were exclusively confined to playing video games sitting cross-legged on the floor of his dirty bedroom, he couldn't respect the fact that I wasn't interested.

Every time we hung out together, he played video games. That would have been okay if I could have read an ebook or browsed the Internet, but he did not allow me to do anything except watch him play.

One day, I thought I could quietly catch up on some work while he played video games, but I was wrong. To my horror, he tugged my laptop out of my hands, snapped it shut, and put it out of my reach before resuming his game. "Watch me play," he demanded.

Another time, I waited until he became engrossed in one of his favorite games before quietly pulling my Kindle ebook reader out of my purse. No sooner had I flipped back the cover than he snatched it from my hands.

"No reading," he said. "I want you to watch me play." He moved the ebook reader out of reach, much as he had done with my laptop a week earlier.

"But I don't enjoy watching you play video games," I protested. "You won't even let me play."

He sighed heavily. "You can't play because you aren't as good at it as I am. You'll just slow me down. Just watch me play instead."

I tried closing my eyes and napping through one of his video game marathons, but he shook me away. "Watch me play," he whined. "You can sleep at home."

"But I'm so bored," I said. "You won't let me use my laptop. You won't let me read a book. Now I can't even take a nap?"

"Just watch the screen," he ordered. Then he resumed playing Donkey Kong while I bit my nails.

The longest he ever forced me to sit and watch the television screen while he played vintage Atari game cartridges was eight hours; I thought I would lose my mind. Every time I looked away or nodded off, he'd pause his game to direct my attention back to the television screen.

It was surreal.

I'm happy to say I broke up with him for reasons unrelated to his forcing me to watch his video game marathons. That alone wasn't enough reason to give up on an eight-year relationship, but it definitely didn't make me want to give him another chance.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Massachusetts State

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