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StriderHoang avatar 2:31 AM on 02.15.2012  (server time)
A Valentine's Day reflection: Two great loves

Considering it's Valentine's Day (or close to it depending on my mood on composing this), lemme regale you on something I may have talked a lot about in my more personal blogs: my girlfriend. In fact, our whole spiel as a relationship with someone wearing video gamer pants.

I first met her in my college's gaming club actually. A friend of mine founded a club devoted to the general activity of gaming, whether it was table-top, pen and paper, role-playing, or console video games. In its second semester, I dedicated myself to bringing my own Xbox 360 to club every week to share my joy of gaming. It was during the club's inaugural meeting and ice breaker that I met her.

It was only during anime club's Christmas party (WHOA. Gaming club and anime club? I'm a piece of work, right?) that we actually talked to each other a bit more past a hello and goodbye. It was only my second year in college, so I was dying to make some real friends, so when she asked me to drive her to the dorms to pick up batteries, I gladly accepted. I had no idea she was interested.

So a month later, after exchanging phone calls and texts while she went home for winter break, we finally were together proper and were officially a couple. And thus started my first relationship that actually brought my identity as a gamer to the forefront.

In the beginning, I always felt like keeping my persona (HA!) of a gamer and my persona as her boyfriend as two wholly, separate things. Kind of like the separation between church and state, they're always there, but it's preferable to keep them separated to make things simple. I'd game in my free time, but whenever she was around, I'd drop what I was doing or otherwise pause the game to make her my first priority. As a disciplined kind of man, that's just how I work, but that concept seemed foreign to her at first. She was used to her men continuing on doing what they were doing to an extent.

But inevitably there came times when my girlfriend and video games would come far too close and I had to blur my images together. After all, if we hang out together with mutual friends and there's a video game console, or she's at gaming club with me, of course I'd have to share my love of video games with her.

Sharing - lesson #2 of reltionships 101

It started off slow. There was no other way really. Something simple that she could ease herself into. Because let's face it, someone who's never played a game like Street Fighter IV or Call of Duty before will just hit the ground running and enjoy it. Those kinds of games need time and I find time a precious commodity I hate to waste when my girlfriend is concerned. So when I chose a game to play together with her, it was a game I had no idea she'd love so much: Castle Crashers. To this day, it's her first suggestion as far as multiplayer games together goes.

It's certainly a refreshing feeling to have someone accept my undying passion for video games so openly. I've made quite a few friends and acquaintances in college but even some of my friends would ridicule or criticize my game-centric life. Video games are a central part of my life and sometimes I can't talk about anything else. I've had times where some friends would groan that I'd bring up games and I'd feel like some awkward social recluse among people I thought I considered to be like me. That's why the people I keep near me today are people I truly consider my friends. Maybe my girlfriend went through a period of acceptance as well. Maybe she was always prepared for it. But I can't think of anyone who accepts everything about me as much as she does.

Let me give you an example.

When Call of Duty: World at War came out, it was still during the height of CoD mania and I was a part of it. When it came out, I just had to have it that day. It was also a day I'd normally hang out with my girlfriend after classes. We still like spending time together, regardless of how we spend that time. So she went along with me to get my copy of the game.

Even further, she agreed to watch me play through the game, as I couldn't wait to begin playing it. Was it going to live up to my expectations from Modern Warfare? Who knows, but the only way I was going to find out was to play it firsthand.

I had intended to just play an hour or two of the game before shifting my attention back onto my girlfriend for the day. But one hour turned into three, then four, then before I knew it, I had played through nearly the whole single player campaign in one sitting with my girlfriend right by my side.

It certainly wasn't my intention to make Adriana just sit there and watch the theater of war of World War II play out like some epic History channel re-enactment. But I was amazed to find out afterwards that she didn't mind and in fact, enjoyed watching me play through the game.

It's certainly not a new concept to many people in my position to have loved ones who enjoy seeing the narrative of the game played out for them but this was of course my first experience. I thought in my head that she'd rather want to do other things together but she was fine with this, if at least this one time.

At some point in time that I can't quite finger, I became comfortable with just involving my girlfriend into my little world of video games. A large portion of my interest in Catherine for example, stemmed from the fact that it had very mature themes of relationships at the very core of the game (asides from block puzzles). And I'm no longer hesitant about talking about games of any topic or context with her, whether it's the latest news or newest trailer. When she went overseas to teach English in Korea, we even exchanged pictures for a while of video game couples and tagged ourselves.

And this was the best of them all. Click it for full size image!

So after nearly five years together with her, we've come to eventually learn every little thing about ourselves, even things we don't know about ourselves. She admires my passion for video games (sometimes singleminded) and it's of course come to point where she'd even do something I never thought anyone would ever do for me: gift me a video game. At the same time, I managed to gift her something that reflects my personality while still being enjoyable for her: Tetris DS. My relationship isn't built entirely on video games, but it's undoubtably a part of it for better or for worse because it's a part of me. And I'm lucky to have a girlfriend as open-minded as Adriana.

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