In the brief period of time that I spent playing Rainbow Six Siege, I encountered many things that would eventually become synonymous with the title in my mind — breaching, team killing, rage quitting, and, most obviously, love. Somehow, in the hellish, anger-inducing cesspool that is Siege, I met the love of my love. Standing on the wing of an airplane with a sniper rifle was not the fairy tale meeting that my childhood fantasies had promised, but video games are the backdrop to my happily ever after and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To cut to the chase, I had made a friend at university who also enjoyed playing Rainbow Six Siege. She eventually invited me to her Discord server made up of Australians and New Zealanders who had all met playing Siege. Back then on the server, I was an Aussie known by my gamer tag sassqueen, and my future fiancé was a Kiwi I knew only by the name Genos.
Talking to a stranger online while playing a video game means your conversations start out pretty casual. Discussions had were rarely personal and instead were a commentary of the match at hand. The fact that we were chatting in a group with some of his friends meant that I did get to see a glimpse of who he was beyond the game. Although, I will admit that he carried our team hard and I found that deeply impressive. To my friends reading this — sorry, but you know it’s true.
Two particular moments cemented my interest in this mystery man whom I still only knew as a gamertag. The first was when a fellow gamer asked if Genos would like to go to the gym with him the following day. They weren’t just going to the gym though. They were going to a group fitness class. I am a group fitness instructor, and to hear in passing that he went to the same classes that I teach set my admiration alight. The second moment that I cherish dearly was one evening, for whatever reason in a match, Genos and I simultaneously started singing the song “Hello” from The Book of Mormon. An almost stranger that I had a massive crush on not only played games but enjoyed musicals and exercise. He shared my three deepest passions, the things that consumed all my energy, and I knew then that I had to get to know this man.
After months of late nights spent trying to steal an extra few minutes of each other’s time, I eventually flew over to meet the mysterious Genos whom I know knew as Alex. The nature of our introduction meant that, after we met in person and decided to pursue a relationship, we were forced to return to our separate lives where only Discord and video games could bridge the gap between us.
The physical separation that accompanied our long-distance relationship was one of the biggest challenges and blessings we received as a couple. You adapt and make time to foster your relationship in other ways. For us, we chose games. We set aside time nearly every night we were apart to play our latest gaming obsession, talking more than we would have if we had the luxury of living close by.
Our romance was enabled to grow in these late-night sessions not because of candle-lit dinners or extravagant dates, but rather our lust for murder in pixel form and the grind for good loot. After all, when we play together, we share a common goal. Whether it is to get another star in Overwatch, beat the campaign in Borderlands 3, or actually kill the Uber Elder in Path of Exile, we are furthering our characters’ stories as well as our own.
The games we chose to play when we were apart were always co-op or multiplayer adventures, separate players in a shared world, working together to create something wonderful. A game of particular note in our journey is a little-known title called For the King. We spent an obscene amount of hours trying, and failing, to perfect strategies to beat every level on offer in that game. On the surface level, we did this because For the King is a fun game. In hindsight, maybe the game offered us something deeper down that taught us the value of working together early on in our relationship.
After our time with For the King, we threw ourselves at Path of Exile, hellbent on seeing who could get better loot. The answer is definitely not me. Maybe Path of Exile is trying to teach us a lesson on patience, or maybe it is trying to teach Alex how to deal with my anger issues. Whatever the actual reason, we share the experience, growing together through our laughter and rage.
Now that Alex and I live together, our interest in games has flipped. Nowadays, we spend our time enjoying single-player games side by side. When you are together physically creating the story of your lives, you need to create memories that are your own. So far, I have watched Alex complete Kingdom Hearts 3, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Wolf Among Us, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Assassin’s Creed Origins. Meanwhile, I am still working my way through Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Guess which one of us is the completionist.
They say love is blind, and meeting someone playing video games is one of the last avenues where that sentence rings true. Modern romance is based on pictures and profiles; ours was founded on nothing but each other’s voice. So here’s to a Valentine’s Day for the lovers like me, who met in the midst of a battlefield surrounded by corpses getting tea-bagged. Hopefully one day our stories will be the stuff of Disney fairy tales. Until then, we will just have to settle for writing these stories ourselves using the games we love, alongside those we love.