Romance & Dragons: Relationships Forged through Gaming
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Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and despite the stereotype that all gamers
are overweight males who live in their parents' basements, many
Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) fans will need to think of the
perfect gift* to give that special someone. The “holiday” has mutated
in recent years with the advent of advanced technology: FTD will let
, or you could send an
to your love. Cute. But
massively-multiplayer online games (MMOGs)—also changes how we fall in
love in the first place.
As an increasing number of people spend more and more of their time on
the Internet, they create online “relationships.” Email, instant
messaging, message boards like
DDO @ TTH
, text messaging on cellular phones, and
chatting in MMOGs have all conditioned us to develop bonds with other
people without the benefit of talking to them face-to-face. But is it
possible to find true love over the Internet?
Aranath and Syrah of EverQuest Live
believe a romantic relationship
built around gaming can be just as strong as any other. The couple made
national news in December of 1998 when they became the first two people
ever to enter into a real marriage through a ceremony in-game. Game
Master Ozymandius presided over their wedding, and a little blurb can
still be found over at IGN
was unable to contact the lovebirds for comment.
and Syrah were the first, but they were not the only ones to
find love in a land of pixels. Even I have some amount of gaming
romance in my personal experience. My wife and I used to spend hours
taking turns with Tecmo's Deception
We would laugh gleefully whenever
we managed to capture a visitor to the mansion in one of our sinister
traps. Sure, we didn't meet in a game, but a large part of our
“courtship” revolved around gaming. When we were married in 2000, I
wrote to Sony Computer Entertainment America for permission to have my
groom's cake look just like a Playstation console. Six years later, my
wife and I are going strong, but do other gaming relationships last?
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fan Gnellie is living proof of a
strong union generated from gaming. "I'd never played D&D before,”
she explains. “A bunch of the guys in my college house got a game going
and, frankly, girls weren't invited. I was fascinated seeing them
pouring over rulebooks and rolling dice.”
Gnellie finally got her chance to join in, and it eventually led to one
of the most important moments in her life. “I rolled up a rogue, having
been advised that it would probably be one of the easier classes to
attempt for a first character. I sat down my first Saturday, met a half
dozen people I'd never met before, and noticed the intense gaze of the
ranger across the table from me,” she recalls.
“A few sessions later…our party fell into a bad situation, where I (a
small slight female rogue) was the only party member not to fall
stunned into the river,” Gnellie relates. “I chose the ranger to rescue
and drag from certain destruction…I just rescued mister “Intense Gaze”
for my own [non-roleplaying] reasons.”
Gnellie completes her story with a fairytale ending: “You know what? I
married him 18 months later. Glad I didn't let him drown.” The couple
has now been married for 10 years. They have a lovely daughter and
continue to game together, mostly playing EverQuest: Online Adventures
Playstation 2 console.
With the documented cases like Aranath and Syrah, and anecdotal
evidence such as that provided by Gnellie, what will DDO bring?
Turbine's implementation of voice chat will (hopefully) expose the men
pretending to be women. It will also allow people to get together and
simply chat. Much like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) allows
broadband users to conduct a telephone conversation over the Internet,
DDO will permit two players to form a party and go sit in an instanced
dungeon to chat in total privacy.
I predict that DDO will see its fair share of romances. D&D fans
are a loyal bunch, and many instantly feel a kinship when they meet
another fan. Many are also older, and (supposedly) more mature gamers
who will possess the means to travel to meet a fellow gamer in real
the group-oriented nature of DDO forces players to
spend almost all of their time in parties. People will form regular
groups and share information about their lives. As similarities
surface, infatuation will result. From there, the voice chat and the
sunset over the waters near the Leaky Dinghy will do the rest.
So I say be ready for anything when DDO launches in two weeks. If you
didn't have a significant other this Valentine's Day, you might just
meet that magical someone in Stormreach. It's happened before!
*For the perfect gift, this gamer
recommends any or (preferably) all of