There are a lot of different ways you can learn the personality traits, habits, and quirks of an introvert, but in my most recent memory, no learning experience is quite like when you’re playing a decision making RPG with an introvert.
I recently played the video game Life Is Strange with my introverted girlfriend. To explain briefly what it is, Life Is Strange is a decision making game where you the player is given choices throughout the game that will affect certain outcomes in the story. Some of the decisions you make are even some of the simplest things such as choices in dialogue when you interact with other characters. And that’s pretty much all you really need to know about the game in order to understand the context of this post. What transpired throughout this hour and a half playing with my girlfriend was some of the most informative and mind-bending time I’ve ever spent with her (and we’re still only in Episode 1 of 5 in this game). In this time, I’ve learned several things about her that nods to her introvert side, as well as her autism and even a little bit of her moral compass. When playing video games like Life Is Strange, it’s pretty easy to just cast aside most of our own moral viewpoints and try different things in the game out of curiosity of how it impacts the story. We have a desire to explore the depths of the game and see what kinds of consequences arise due to our actions.
Well, my girlfriend has no such desire. In entering the game, she does not leave her moral values, introverted personality, and routine mindedness at the door. By bringing everything she is with her, she brings a rather jarring but honestly oddly inspiring play-through of a video game. Allow me to list some examples.
1. Every decision she made, whether it was the words she said to characters or the decisions she made that affected the story, had to be ‘just right’.
My girlfriend said once when going into Dungeons and Dragons that she didn’t want to do anything in a game that she wouldn’t do in real life. In a game, she is completely and thoroughly herself. When faced with a decision to make in Life Is Strange, even smaller ones that really have no impact on the storyline at all, she feels instantly pressured. As an introvert, she has proven that she needs time to really think over decisions, so when she needs to make a decision within the moment, she blanks out. While playing, she asked me what I would do in certain situations. That pressure to make a decision that’s the right one was there and strong, despite the fact that in the case of this game, your character has the power to rewind time and go back and make a different decision than the one you made before. She had an undeniable persistence to make decisions that were within her moral compass. One example of this was being kind to a bully even though that bully gave her no reason to be. Risk-taking has no room in her mind, and not knowing what was going to happen when she would finally make a decision was the most nervous I had ever seen her.
2. Her introverted personality means that she doesn’t just have a difficult time talking to people (particularly strangers) in real life, she has a difficult time talking to people in a game too.
Over the past couple months, it has become increasingly obvious to me that talking to people she doesn’t know is intimidating to my girlfriend, and that if someone isn’t with her like me or a family member, she would rather stay away. This is really no exception in a video game like Life Is Strange. Even though I was sitting next to her while playing, her mind was immersed in the reality of the game, and as far as she was concerned, she was talking to strangers alone. She preferred keeping conversations short, and not prying other characters for details about their personal lives. It was all about saying the bare minimum that needed to be said and then moving on to the next thing, keeping a brisk pace as she went about it. At several points while playing the game, she was presented with several options for dialogue that she criticized because of the fact that all the options were practically the same, just worded differently. She also criticized how unnatural some of the dialogue sounded, pointing out that people simply don’t talk that way (I never said it was the most well written game out there). Criticisms like these actually stumped her at times, because she didn’t know how to proceed without the conversation feeling awkward.
3. And finally, the stereo story and breaking into a room
My girlfriend is a person of routine, which I suppose you can connect with both autism and the personality of an introvert. What had to be the most jarring part of playing the game with her was when I attempted to be funny by turning on the stereo in the main character’s dorm room and then leaving the room with the stereo still on. My girlfriend hated this, and insisted I go back and turn the stereo off since it’s ‘a waste of electricity’. Yes, that’s right. My girlfriend was thinking about the electric bill in a video game. That sense of routine and responsibility is with her even when playing a video game like Life Is Strange. When the main character had to go into someone else’s room while she wasn’t there in order to find something of importance, my girlfriend urged me to be fast so that we wouldn’t get caught, even though I knew we weren’t going to. I assured her of this, but she wanted me to be quick anyway, which again emphasizes how meticulously she thinks of everything, even in a game.
Even now, my mind is racing trying to figure out what all of my girlfriend’s habits and quirks while playing the game link back to. Some habits were very obviously her introverted personality but others seemed like something else entirely. Autism possibly, but not overtly so. My girlfriend told me it was simple immersion, though in this case I’d argue the immersion was far deeper than even I find myself in in video games. Often times I just play them for the fun of it. If nothing else, this story illustrates what certain scenarios can present for a couple on the autism spectrum, or even simply a couple with one person being introverted. It’s a wild, weird world and I’m speechless at times when I’m a part of it, but I also can’t help but be drawn to it. So yeah, if you’d really like to see what makes you and your significant other different from each other, play a game like Life Is Strange. You might be surprised what you’ll encounter.