By which I mean “I haven’t finished playing Dragon Age yet, so have some personal rambling.” I haven’t been home a lot this week, and Orzammar’s political succession squalor is hard to take in large chunks; hopefully I’ll finish up next week.
Meanwhile, it’s occurred to me–while walking home from the T, as such things generally do–that video games and romance have been pretty well connected in my life for, oh, as long as I was interested in either. And I, um, started pretty early in both regards. Pretty ineffectually, too, as I recall.
I mean, yeah, I did kiss the neighbor boy who got a Sega Genesis as a result of major surgery (and was the most popular kid on the block for months, because: Road Rash) but that was a dare on both our parts (when you grow up as far out in the boonies as I did, “dare your friends to kiss each other” gets you through a lot of summer afternoons) and totally doesn’t count at all. My puppy-dog adoration of certain teenagers who would occasionally drop by my parents’ house to talk math or Latin and effortlessly beat my eight-bit nemesis was…well, I wasn’t even conscious of it in a romantic sense, I just thought they were the coolest people ever, oh my God Mom can you get Hesham to come over and show me how to do this level, pleeeeeease?* My giant crush on the boy in third grade who could beat Super Mario 3 (without the P-Wing, of course: I had standards , people) was, in one of the great tragedies of our age, totally unrequited.
Annnd then there was Brad.
Brad was one of my parents’ students when I was twelve. Brad wore all black, and had also dyed his hair black, and wore it in a ponytail, which made him SO DREAMY by a standard that I was just starting to use, and that I took a shamefully long time to get over. Brad taught me how to play Wolfenstein 3-D and Alone in the Dark (and how to find them on the school computers, which were very much For Academic Use Only, at least in theory) and Moria. He also came by and installed Monkey Island and Willy Beamish on our personal computer**. Swoon. Photographs of the scene would, I’m sure, have shown actual hearts in my eyes.
Blockily-rendered VGA hearts, of course.
Brad got kicked out of school for drinking, as you do, and I grew up, bought my own video games, went to a different boarding school, and started actually dating boys. (Most of whom, at the time, I met through MUSHes. Heh.) It was the second of said boys who, one day when we were hanging out at his house, mentioned that he thought I’d like playing Half-Life. Two hours later:
Him: “I love you, sweetie.”
Me: “That’s nice, but OH MY GOD HEADCRABS GET THEM OFF GET THEM OFF CROWBAAAAAR!”
Then there was the freshman fall fling who showed me Angband (and we remained on good enough terms for him to loan me Planescape: Torment that summer–thanks, dude!); the winter vacation where The Perky Goth and I stayed up in the attic playing through Super Mario World until we not only beat the game but got the weirdo pumpkin world setting; drowning my sorrows in DDR and Shadow Hearts: Covenant; and probably more than a few I’ve forgotten. These days, I can buy and install my own games, and I can offer my friends beer rather than undying adoration when they beat levels–which is probably for the best, ’cause I think the guy who got me past the last hellish Parasite: Eve fight would be weirded out if I started batting my eyelashes and showing leg–so there’s a little less of a connection.
Still, there was the time when the current and I went away for our first Christmas vacation, and he brought a copy of Heroes of Might and Magic III. He introduced me to the rules, we played a few games, and three hours later:
Him: “I love you, sweetie.”
Me: “I have no love for anything that doesn’t get me dragons. GOD DAMN PIT LORDS! STOP KILLING MY GRIFFONS!”
Some things don’t change.
* My dad’s school at the time had students do chores as punishment. I’m not sure if “play Nintendo with the Head’s kid” was on the list, but I have my suspicions.
**Using the three years’ worth of DOS commands necessary at the time. This was an imperfect system for many reasons, not least because the theoretical eldest daughter of your household could, hypothetically, in an attempt to free up memory for a game that rhymes with “grist”, decide that neither CONFIG.SYS nor AUTOEXEC.BAT looked like important files.
There were, as I recall, Words.