How to ignore Valentine's Day...

Sunday is Valentine's Day. Now, there's all sorts of things wrong with that. First is that it's fallen on a weekend this year, so potentially you have to provide an entire day's romance for your partner rather than just a thoughtful evening after work.

The second issue is that it badly clashes with our usual Sunday plans of mooching about in the clothes we got up in and playing video games, but do not despair. We're with you here at Pocket-lint. We don't wish to have our weekends ruined by an enforced love day either. Besides, what about the high levels of background love we give our partners on the other 364 days of the year? It may not even be possible to up the love any more. We're already going at 11.

Anyway, enough of the protestations, here's how to convince your partner to play video games all weekend instead.

Step 1 - Buy a card

Yes, we know this seems a bit in line with the spirit of the occasion but trust us here. What you do is agree with your partner that you won't buy anything for each other and that you won't get any cards or anything. Then, out of nowhere, you get them a card. Cue guilt and, what we were after all along, the fact that they are now in your debt. How could they possibly refuse spending the day according to your choice?

The danger here is, of course, that they might have got you a card as well. If you think that's the case, then up the ante with some flowers. If they bring flowers, then you bring a gift. That's the Chicago way.

Step 2 - Lay the groundwork

A touch of guilt may not be enough to keep your partner firmly in your living room, so you need a little more support for your case. The good thing about Valentine's Day is that it's always in February and February is cold. No one really wants to go out in the cold. So make sure you remind them of the biting chill. In fact, mention the bitter weather all week and, if you can pass the odd comment about how the damp plays up an old wound or condition, then so much the better. Think piece of shrapnel still embedded in your thigh, metal plate in the head or, for those non-veterans out there, a simple fabricated ex-case of pneumonia will do the trick. Don't forget to build a sufficient story of how it happened as back up. Try something like:

"A mate of mine fell into a river at university one night when he was drunk. I jumped in to pull him out and caught it while waiting for the ambulance to arrive in my wet clothes".

Something along those lines. Once you've cemented the adverse health conditions then it might be worth dropping in a line about saving money, so long as your partner responds well to that kind of thing.

So, now that the ground work is done, you can add all this to the surmounting reasons why it'd be best to stay in. Not worth mentioning the gaming just yet unless they have specifically asked you what you have in mind instead.

Step 3 - Drop the bomb

By now they'll have asked what your plan is. There's no point in pussy-footing around the issue. They're obviously a bright person and they know you too well to pull any wool over their eyes, so just be direct. Hold them around the shoulders or even just something as subtle as touching their elbow with your hand, look them straight in the eye and with all open-heartedness say:

"What I'd like for us to do is to stay in, get really cosy and play video games together".

Note the use of "us", "together" and "cosy". These are all key words. Even if video games would not normally be appealing to them, words like this will change the picture of the scene in their heads from a darkened Xbox and pop tarts den to something more wholesome and romantic.

It might also help to bill it as something of a challenge like seeing if you can stay in one room all day. Perhaps attach pedometers and hold a competition for who can clock up the fewest steps. However you pitch it, just make sure not to ask twice or look too shocked when they agree.

Step 4 - Set the scene

So, hopefully, you've got the green light and now to the task of actually making it a good evening - perhaps even the kind that your partner would like to repeat. Go down to the shops and buy: candles, luxury snacks - high end chocolates, executive crisps, sweets, etc - wine, new games, Slanket. This last item might have to be pre-purchased online but well worth it to add fun to the experience. You could even go for a double Slanket for added fun.

Light a fire, if you have one, and make sure your gaming room is lit only by this, the candles and the romantic light of your video games display which your partner can then enjoy flickering in your eyes while you watch Sonic et al in theirs.

Step 5 - Choose your games

Some genres your partner will like and some they won't. It's hard to predict which will be their weapon of choice, so just make sure you have a good range. Rent a few titles - both classics and recent releases - and start a new game together, even if you've already got to level 23 on your own.

Simultaneous multi-player games are usually better but there's no reason why you can't enjoy an FPS, so long as it doesn't just end up as them watching you play. Death-matching might be a better idea but make sure to go easy on them. Letting them win a few times will go a long way. You can restore pride later on.

Games with engaging stories are often a winner in this kind of situation, especially if they're puzzle games when even the person without the controller can still take part.

Step 6 - Take regular breaks

No point screening your partner out - especially if they're not used to heavy gaming. Have films as a back up. Maybe intersperse sessions with a quick episode of a good TV show or a bit of a fumble. Better still, try doing it at the same time as playing. Few things are as liberating as naked gaming.

Above all, make sure there's a good supply of liquids. Staring at a screen can cause dehydration and dehydration will cause headaches while trying to game.

Step 7 - Stop if you/they're not enjoying it

No point in forcing the day on if it's not going well. This will only serve to increase your partner's distaste for both video games and your gaming habit. If they're not enjoying the gaming side, they might still be able to work with the cosiness, so have alternative sofa-based entertainment to hand - books, magazines, a laptop etc.

Should disaster strike and they demand a trip out of the house, then a walk down to a lake or river with a loaf of bread to feed the ducks is always an easy answer and a great way to buy any thinking time you might need to salvage what's left of the day. Good luck.