Love is in the air, and some of you may be trying to shoot it down. But for others, online gaming has become the new online dating.
Take the story of Ben Ambroso and his girlfriend Tora. Reported by Kotaku and MSNBC, when they first started dating Ben gave her “the gamer talk,” in which he explained his hobby and the fact it might make him incommunicative and emotionally unavailable for hours at a time. Little did he know that Tora was a gamer too. Coincidently, they also shared an undying love for the same game, Borderlands. Ben said that playing the game together in the beginning “easily made that awkward starting-out stage of any relationship go extremely smooth.” Long story short, Ben contacted the game studio Gearbox and requested a custom made Borderlands marriage proposal:
Let’s put the potential of finding Game Love into perspective. “The New York Times” claims that Match.com has approximately 2 million members, while World of Warcraft has about 12 million. Add 30 million Xbox Live subscribers, 70 million Playstation accounts, 94 million Nintendo Wii units and Zynga’s 200 million social media downloads. This isn’t even counting the thousands of subscriptions to other successful MMO’s like Guild Wars, Aion and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Obviously, these are not all unique users. But according to a February 2012 article on NPR.org, “Right now 1 billion people play games online.”
ONE BILLION PEOPLE PLAY GAMES ONLINE.
Nintendo’s Cupid, Kid Icarus, is armed and ready!
I am one of the 1 billion. And I have a love story.
I started dating my boyfriend in 2007 – actually, today February 10th, is our 5 year anniversary. Our first date involved a crappy dive bar, darts and karaoke. In the performance of his life, he sang me R. Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. Seriously. I knew in that moment… a man this absurd was the one for me.
In the following months he reignited my love for gaming; I hadn’t really played since moving to Los Angeles. He sold me on God of War 2 and thoroughly enjoyed watching me play. I hadn’t picked up a controller in years, but it was just like riding a bike… with a few more buttons.
Sadly, our courtship ended early. I was involved in a terrible stunt accident that landed me in a neck brace, banishing me to life on the couch for more than a year. Through fainting spells, transient blindness, countless hours in the ER, MRIs and XRays… he stood by me. He held me up. He washed my hair. If he weren’t Jewish, I’d call him a Saint :p
As I fell into a depression, fair-weather friends fell to the wayside. With no family in California and friends busy with their careers, I zoned out to Xbox Lumines while my boyfriend was at work. One day he came home with a copy of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade and said, “Hey, I think you’ll like this game.” Heh. More on that later.
OF LOVE AND GAMING.
In a game like World of Warcraft, you can talk to other players. Those 12 million people mentioned earlier are each fighting monsters and doing the same thing you’re doing, so it’s fairly easy to make a common connection.
It may not seem conventional (like getting drinks or seeing a movie) but being in a mutual, virtual environment can dissolve the anxiety of a “first date”. ‘The New York Times‘ interviewed a woman by the name of Ramona Pringle, an interactive media producer and a professor of new media at the Ryerson School of Image Arts in Toronto, and I felt she made an excellent point regarding this subject:
Multiplayer games encourage alliances. The beginner’s guide to World of Warcraft notes that you can go it alone, “but by going it alone, you won’t be able to master some of the game’s tougher challenges, you will likely take longer to reach the endgame, and you won’t have access to the game’s most powerful magical treasures.” Ms. Pringle thinks that is analogous to love.
“Analogous to love”… Kristy from the UK wrote me this week echoing Ms. Pringle’s sentiment:
“I was completely lost. There was only one other person online, Jixan. I’d never talked to him before, but I nervously said hello and he offered to help me. We spent an hour or so, had a whale of a time, and got me a new dagger. After a year of chatting every day and making new characters that we only played with each other… he said he could no longer talk to me. He’d fallen head over heels for me, and it was too painful to know nothing would come of it. We lived 400 miles apart, he in London, me in a small south Wales village. I was completely devastated. After days of misery, we decided to meet. He pulled into the train station at 2 am, and i was terrified. I’d finally meet him! We had exchanged photos a long time ago, so I knew who to look for. A crowd of people disembarked, but there was no sign of him. As I walked around the corner, he caught my eye, walked up to me and kissed me! He later said that if he hadn’t kissed me then, he never would have! After a year he moved in with me. We have now added to our family, and have a beautiful ten month old son.” – Kristy & Jamie
A romance that started in a video game traveled 400 miles… but how about 40 minutes? Just because you meet someone online doesn’t mean they’re necessarily long distance. Take Milica’s story:
“I met my boyfriend, Timothy, in 2008 after we talked online while playing Lineage 2. I found out Tim was only forty minutes away! We really hit it off so we decided to meet in person. I was very nervous, but when I met him all my anxiety melted away. We have so many things in common, and gaming together is amazing. After that it’s all history! We’ve been together three years and six months.” – Milica & Timothy
All the stories I received had one resounding theme: they all love to play video games together. In my personal experience, couples that have common interests have a higher success rate, whether it be video games, movies, sports – whatever. One of my readers reinforced this belief in her gaming experience:
“More often than not, I had more time to play than my boyfriend did, but without him, who was I? Could I go into challenges alone, aimlessly pugging into new uncharted content and hope for the best? Sure, maybe… but it wouldn’t be as fun. We were a pair, a dynamic duo, and one hell of a 2′s team. While we can’t always play together, we find ourselves loving the game the same way we always have – always fun, always epic. Our Valentine’s date this year is taking down Deathwing and celebrating with a beer (or seven!)” - Lindariel & Laido
SHOOTERS FALL IN LOVE TOO.
Romance doesn’t always blossom in a MMO. It can happen in a Shooter too. Maybe by playing Halo you could meet the man of your dreams… or marry a Frag Doll. Take the story of Brookelyn and JB. This story is a combo excerpt from Brooke’s Frag Doll Goodbye Blog and her Wedding Blog:
“In 2005, Bungie (creators of Halo) invited us to take part in one of their “Humpday Challenges” on Halo 2. We accepted. We lost. Or did I really win? This was the day I met my husband, Anim8rjb (My JB). I quickly zeroed in on him, which is interesting because the boy rarely spoke and when he did he was sarcastic as $&*@! I liked his dry humor. I quickly looked up his profile; to my surprise he was the hottest guy I had ever laid eyes on. I started popping up in his Halo games. I harassed JB everyday on Xbox Live and through texts. I would try to embarrass him by saying he was sexy in front of the entire Halo chat room. My persistence paid off and he started to flirt back. For the next six months we spent most of our dates in private Halo matches, Rainbow Six Co-op or playing Links. We fell in love, I moved to Seattle to be with him and 3 years later we got married.” – Brookelyn & JB
JB’s side of the story is shy, but just as sweet:
“Almost immediately, she began flirting with me in the lobby; teasing me, flirting, and just generally making me blush. She’ll deny this, but I was already well aware of who she was… I had all the intel on her already We met for the first time at the Sundance Film Festival. I very nearly blew it because she was just so beautiful in person, and I was paralyzed with shyness. Thank God she really liked me and hung in there enough for me to relax. After that, we were in love. We’ve been married for almost five years now. She is my best friend and I absolutely adore her.” – JB & Brookelyn
Sometimes, girls just have to be more forward than guys. And that’s exactly what happened to another one of my favorite Gamer duos: Niko (Nick) & TradeChat (Danielle). Before they became beloved video game bloggers, the two of them first had to figure out how to play together:
“I was working as a bartender when Danielle asked me for a soda, “with a few extra cherries”, she added. I thought she was cute, so I gave her a soda with 1 cherry. Moments later, I lifted a second plastic cup FILLED with cherries. I’ll never forget how her face lit up. Just before Danielle left, she returned to the bar and slid her napkin towards me, and with a subtle smile she turned and walked away. I waited until she left and hastily retrieved the napkin. To my delight, “Dani” was written on the back, followed by her phone number.
I was a gamer, always had been. And although I suffered through the first couple of weeks dating without my coveted games, I eventually caved. I started playing Halo and World of Warcraft while she was around. Without much hesitation, she decided to give Halo a try and really enjoyed it. But much of the enjoyment came from spending time with me; and although we did play a lot of Halo, my main focus was with WoW, and I played so much that it became a problem. Hours every day were lost to the game, and Danielle was left out, bored and frustrated. Some fervent arguments ensued, and it got to the point that our relationship was in trouble because of it.
It was then that I had to make a decision, “Girl or Game?”, a decision no gamer wants to make. I chose Girl, but I wasn’t letting go of Game without a fight. I spoke with Danielle, and the agreement was, she had to try World of Warcraft first. If she didn’t like it, I’d quit playing it.
Two years later we got engaged. Two more years after that, we’re still in love, and playing World of Warcraft together.” – Nick & Danielle
I guess Danielle really liked Warcraft because she became an avid YouTuber with almost 100k subscribers to her mostly Warcraft / Blizzard Entertainment related YouTube Channel! Well done Nick
TALK THEN TOUCH.
First comes typing, then comes talking. According to ‘The New York Times‘, gamers said that typing their feelings or flirtations is less awkward than saying them aloud. This can lead to more honest conversations, and fewer misunderstandings. It allows people a way to collect their thoughts. Remember when people used to send love letters? It creates a longing! A longing to see each other. A longing to touch.
Take Kyriêl and Kyriela (Kyle and Lynsey), who simply met due to a misunderstanding over the similarity of their avatar’s names. After the first month of non-stop chatting, texting and phone calls, they told each other “I Love You” – but they had never met in person! Kyle Davenport tells about the first time he got to TOUCH the love of his life:
“Lynsey flew from California to Alabama to meet me. I bought flowers. This was probably the most exciting and scary moment of my life, and I was more nervous than I had ever been. I sat in the airport to wait, when moments later, I see her face, her beautiful face and as we walked up to one another I remember thinking, “Kyle, this could be your wife one day.” The most amazing part of meeting was finally being able to touch each other, touch the one person I loved most. Words will never be able to explain that amazing feeling. We are now happily married and living in Alabama with our family of crazy pets and still playing WoW, enjoying every minute we have together.” – Kyle & Lynsey Davenport
Kani and Kura had a similar reaction to the sensation of touch. After spending a year of playing Achaea, they decided to meet on New Years Eve and are now happily married, still playing video games, two years later. Kani describes:
“I met him at the airport and seeing him come down the stairs was like… completely indescribable. I was breathless, and he got the biggest hug I have ever given anyone. I don’t think I stopped smiling for days. I -knew- the second I saw him face-to-face that he was the one.” – Kani & Kura
IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH.
Playing video games got me through a really tough time. Being in a neck brace isn’t comfortable – it was like a cloth and velcro prison strapped around my throat. I was in so much pain, I could barely leave the house. World of Warcraft gave me and my boyfriend something fun to do together. Beyond that, the gameplay distracted me from the pain.
One of my readers, Veronica, writes from a similar perspective. She met LJ on World of Warcraft and after months of ramping up their relationship from typing to texting to lengthy, long distance phone calls – LJ asked if she wanted to be his girlfriend. But then tragedy struck:
“Not even a week later I received a phone call I will never forget. He was diagnosed with cancer. In November he started his treatment and was able to visit me. I don’t know if it’s because we were going through something most couples do not go through until they’ve been together for 30+ years or what, but I knew we’d be together for a long time.
Eventually his health improved and months later he was cleared of all of his cancer. Shortly after he moved to Florida to be with me. Our entire relationship has been intense, from cancer to moving in together so quickly but it’s over a year later and we’re still together (happily I might add!) and he’s still cancer free.
To this day both of us play World of Warcraft together, as well as other video games too (Xbox 360 being one system we enjoy together!). Video games brought us together, distracted us from cancer fears, and kept us together until we could live with one another. Video games is something we will always have, no matter what else life throws our way. I know our future together will be cut short due to his health, but that does not stop me from loving him it only makes me enjoy the time we have together that much more.”
By now I was crying. But Veronica sent me one last email:
“One thing he told me once was that even though having cancer sucks, he had to have something so bad happen to him to have me, which he considers something good that happened. Cheesy but if I can make him happy and help him forget what he’s been through… then my life is complete.” – Veronica & LJ
On our five year anniversary, I want to tell my boyfriend: Mike, I don’t know what I would have done without you in the last five years, and I don’t know what I would do without you in the next twenty years. You took care of me when you could have left me. You loved me through the most turbulent and troubling time of my life. Like Veronica said earlier, we went through something most couples don’t go through until they’ve been together 30+ years.
By playing online games we have learned how to solve puzzles together, challenge one another and lead a guild of over 300 people. We have forged an amazing group of friends, people we have mostly never seen in person — and they are people that we never would have met had I not been injured and you not come home with that copy of The Burning Crusade. Because of you I have an amazing support system in a very unique gaming community. None of this would have happened without you.
I used to think… if I could take back one day… but I no longer think that way. I am so happy. Happy anniversary. And Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my online friends, I love you all.
Also a very special thank you to those of you who shared your video game love stories with me.
And just in case you’re in the mood, here are my two other favorite video game marriage proposals… I can’t believe how beautiful these are:
Little Big Planet Marriage Proposal. I love how you can hear the girl *gasp* when she sees the words “Will You Marry Me”. Apparently, she was so shocked she just kept playing the level because she knew her boyfriend was filming it (and how much effort it took him to make it for her). Afterwords she cried and said yes. If you’ve never played this game, it’s GORGEOUS.
Portal 2 Marriage Proposal – just… wow.
Featured image via: InsanelyGaming
Additional images via: KidIcarusWikia, MicheleMorrow.com, Gamolosophy, Sandara.deviantart.com, Milica, Bungie, MyGamerStory by Brookelyn, Niko & TradeChat, Kyle & Lynsey Davenport and MicheleMorrow.com