She stood before me, glistening in her Mithril Armor, armor that she was awarded for slaying an enormous Rock Troll while adventuring in the Marron Mountains. Although composed purely of pixels, even here, she struck me as beautiful. Her name was Ada- the most feared female elf warrior in the land of Drator. Our first meeting was outside of Girim’s Tavern, where I was yelling to the crowd about a large Sewer Rat which had scared me behind the outhouse. She strode up to me, brandished her war axe, and spoke “Shut up you nitwit, that rat’s only a level 1; grow a pair!” I was in love.
After the public embarrassment of my rat scare, I began whispering to Ada. Whispering in the game-world is a method of communication whereby one player can communicate directly with another, without anyone else being able to see the text. Whispering however, doesn’t carry with it the level of intimacy it does in the “real world.” Think of it more like a text message, but where it is socially acceptable to randomly text a stranger who thinks you are an online coward. We talked all day, about the game mainly at first; she taught me how to wield the bow and the dagger and where to travel in order to fight monsters appropriate to my fighting prowess. She was my mentor and teacher, I her pupil. Together we braved the dark mines of Elgolath and breached the Gates of Gorium. She always protected me from the darkest and most evil of the game’s beasts. Although the fighting wasn’t real; the camaraderie certainly was. We became great friends and our whispering slowly turned to more of a personal nature.
Turns out she lived (in reality not the game world) in Chicago just like me. That fact alone was staggering given the millions of players online in the game; what were the odds I wondered? After this fact came out, I feel it was only a matter of time before we met. I of course breached the subject and she casually agreed to a coffee shop meeting- one in the middle of the day and in public. I’m sure she had some fear I would turn out to be a psycho and not the mild-mannered and generally harmless mechanic that I am. I had some fear as well, mainly just the fear that she would turn out not to really be in fact…a she. In the online-game world there are many people who really do take part in active role-playing, and may stay in character the entire time. Drinking coffee with my online male “girlfriend” of three months was not a pleasant thought.
When I made it to the coffee-shop, she was already there; she wore the shirt she had told me she would depicting a plump cat and the words “I can haz cheezburger?”. One of her favorite memes. She was as more beautiful than I could have hoped for…and apparently she didn’t find me too trollish given that we sipped on caramel macchiatos for the next four hours before heading out to dinner and a movie. We talked at first about the game-world, about goblins and dwarfs and such- but we transitioned to ordinary conversation after a while; we talked about our work, our lives, past-friends and loved ones, etc. Although the game was what brought us together, the bond we formed transitioned from the game to reality. Three years later, married and with an infant, she still play the game from time to time – it’s not that we don’t find it entertaining… it’s just that my real life with my real beautiful wife is incomparable to the virtual entities we used to reside in. I’m eternally glad for the game that facilitated our meeting – and who else can say they found their wife while searching for treasure in an alien world of myth and danger?