Valentine and Games…? How I met your mother in 2020…


Today’s computer and video games provide interactive environments not offered by other forms of entertainment. From game consoles with Internet connectivity to social and multiplayer online games, gamers increasingly engage with each other as they play, and form strong relationships with players around the world. Gaming has always had social components of course, even starting with Pong on the Atari 2600 that one could play together with a friend, sitting on the couch. I remember playing games like Police Quest and Gabriel Knight for hours and hours with my cousin behind my fathers computer (an IBM 8086). Later we rented a Nintendo N64 or Sega Megadrive at the video store. More recent I played Buzz on my PlayStation 2 with 7 friends during New Years eve and it is these playful and epic experiences in which relations tighten and bonding starts en evolves. 
For some, online games offer the opportunity to connect with others in a way akin to dating websites. Online games enable players to interact with others through chat features from the very beginning, and the central areas of the game environment are often crowded with hundreds of other players. Over time, connections between players blossom into love more than one might expect.
Pete and Hannah Romero, for example, met online playing Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. After spending a great deal of time playing together, Hannah traveled to Los Angeles to meet Pete. A year later, they married. The Romeros are not alone. Stories from others who found love through games show up in chat rooms and forums across the Internet. Psychological studies and investigative news stories about the role of games in the future of online dating are also becoming more common.

Picture by: Bonny Makarewicz for The New York Times

Games also provide inspiration for creative marriage proposals. For instance, when Gary Hudston decided it was time to propose to his long-time girlfriend Stephy, he turned to a customized version ofPortal 2. Gary shared his idea with Portal creator Valve Software. Valve then helped him get a script recorded by Ellen McLain, the voice of the game’s popular villain, GlaDOS. After his collaboration with Valve and two level designers from the Portal 2 community, Gary presented his girlfriend with three levels of the game. After Stephy completed the final level, GLaDOS proposed to her on Gary’s behalf. Skip to 3:46 for the actual proposal… the intro is quite long… The scripted event was made possible by two Dutchies (at least by last-names) called Doug Hoogland and Rachel van der Meer. 

One gamer known as DimmuJed turned to the in-game design tools of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Little Big Planet. Using Little Big Planet’s popular Create Mode, DimmuJed developed his own game level featuring a proposal to his girlfriend. Yet another gamer asked developer William Thurston to create a customized version of the iOS game Foozle that included his proposal.
These are just a few of the stories demonstrating the powerful connections video games can create among players. With 72 percent of Americans playing computer and video games, 50% of all 600 million users on Facebook logging in to be able to play their favorite games and over 200 million people playing Angry Birds, it is likely that stories of gamer romances will become even more common…

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