There may be a 1,000+ miles between us but for the hour that we are talking, planning and fighting for our survival, on each of our own monitors, it’s as if she is in the room with me. Despite her lumbering British internet, and with the help of Steams great online technology, we are able to laugh, cooperate and collect shinies as a pair of cartoonish knights in, Three Rings’ developed, Spiral Knights (published by SEGA).
Gaming from afar has become something much more to me than the weekend gaming sessions amongst friends. The “Pond” between my girlfriend and I this month has created a scenario were these gaming sessions are the most important and endearing I have ever played. Even in a Free To Play game with simplistic (not to be confused with bad) graphics and simple game play (a strength of Spiral Knights) – our sessions together are comparable to none.
I have played uncountable gaming sessions amongst friends in online worlds of blockbuster developed titles. On multiple occasions my friends and I have just eked out a win over the ‘blue team’ or just barely fell to defeat to the Russians but, none of those moments have satisfied me the way my sessions, in a casual dungeon crawler, with my girlfriend have.
Online gaming amongst couples is a unique experience. Their is an unmentioned connection that plays into the games adventure at hand. The role of protecting each other, unknowingly at first, between the coop couple produces an added level of drama and interaction to the experience. You know the character representing your significant other is just that, a character representation and nothing more. Knowing it is just her avatar doesn’t completely sway you from that little sadness that hits you when she falls in battle to a poisonous jelly mass, a rabid squirrel, a fire firing tower, or a dusty skeleton (man she dies a lot). That added sense of realism is not something a game can do on its own and that is why the experience is so unique. The parameters for engagement in the game comes from outside influences.
A coop couple can share time and understanding together by gaming from afar. They can work together, communicate and overcome. They can also garner a little insight that if they can, together, conquer monsters in a cramped dungeon, they can conquer issues, together, in a modest apartment.