Mass Effect/Dragon Age Improved My Marriage
Kiel Cheiner credits Mass Effect and Dragon Age with helping to bring his wife closer together and strengthening the bonds of their marriage.
I got married when I was 20, after being in a relationship with my wife for about a year beforehand. We’d dated briefly in high school, then reunited later. My wife is three years older than me, and a great deal more accomplished/mature than I was at the time (I was just starting college, she already had a government career). Still, at the time, I often felt really young, and while our relationship was good and stable, I was often very insecure about a lot of things. After all, it’s hard to think of yourself as an adult when you’re still avidly into video games.
My wife always had a lot of nerd sensibilities (she loved Star Trek, played Harvest Moon) but she wasn’t nearly as big a gamer as I was. This changed after I introduced her to Fable II. She avidly consumed the game, loving that she could be immersed in a fantasy world, get married, have virtual children, and be a wandering hero to boot. Once she’d beaten it a couple of times, she looked to me and asked, “So what’s next?”
I introduced her to something a little more hardcore: Dragon Age: Origins.
She took to it fairly quickly, crafting herself a Roguish avatar of herself, chatting away with NPCs, but the moment things really clicked for her was meeting Alistair. Quite simply, he was the man of her dreams. His accent, his sense of humour, his vulnerability, his bashfulness at times, all of them traits that utterly enthralled her and immersed her in the game world. She romanced him quickly, and he became the center of her affections. When she began to spend more time with the game (namely Alistair) than with me, I began to get a bit jealous. I felt a little upstaged by a virtual character.
One night while playing, Alistair presented her Grey Warden with a rose, and made a very sweet comment about her. My wife fawned over it, then turned to me and said, “Why don’t you do things like that for me?”
I was kind of crushed, but it dawned on me that I had let my romantic side slide after we tied the knot. After that, I made a far bigger effort to bring romance back to our relationship. It’s been working great.
When Mass Effect 2 came out, we played it together.
I’d played Mass Effect 1, and imported my FemShep. My wife liked her well enough, but couldn’t understand why I wasn’t romancing all of the “hawt aliens”.
“Sleep with Thane. He looks so sad and into you…or Garrus! I love Garrus!” she’d say, “Heck, why not Tali? That voice is really, really hot”
“I can’t. My Shepard loves Liara. I can’t betray her like that”
My wife didn’t understand my motivations, or why I should be saving myself for a character who I didn’t even get to really see.
That was until the ‘Lair of the Shadow Broker’ DLC was released.
As we played, and my Shepard held Liara, intimately saying they would grow old and have children together, my wife got really choked up.
“Is that how you felt about me” she asked,
I nodded. My wife was the first and only person I’ve ever slept with and been with. She’d known, but never really thought about what it meant until then, as we were playing Mass Effect together.
This is why we both love Bioware’s games so much. Their emphasis on relationships and characters are unique in the industry. Whenever we play a Bioware RPG together, we find characters we feel strongly about. As we pursue digital relationships with our Grey Wardens, FemSheps, and Hawkes, we reflect on our own relationship and what we’ve accomplished and have yet to accomplish. We play the games for fun, but we also play them to bring ourselves closer together. Our own romantic lives mirrored in those of fantastical rogues and red-headed Specters.
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