In Answer To Your Question, We Both Chose Squirtle

It’s a typical story with a slightly bizarre twist. I had my heart broken earlier this year. It happened shortly after moving away from my family and my friends, and I found myself in a particularly dark and lonely place. I only knew a couple of people in my new area, and making friends isn’t one of my strong suits. As it turns out, this unfortunate series of events ended up being the making of me, though, despite this new found confidence in myself, I had a bit of a false start getting back on the dating horse.

Now, throughout this time, a lifelong close friend had been trying to set me up with an equally close friend of hers. Having met him once, many years before, at her 16th birthday party and not really conversing much with him past an embarrassed squeak, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of an equally embarrassing and awkward blind date. She had been pushing to set us up for months, always using the line that we would be perfect for each other, but this time she mentioned an important nugget of information that she hadn’t before; “he’s a gamer nerd just like you!”

I finally relented, unsure as to what to expect, and sure enough, not long after that (I mean literally a couple of minutes) I got the friend request on Facebook. Now we both knew why he was adding me and the initial conversation was polite. “How are you?”, “I remember you from that party”, “what have you been up to since then?” etc. After skirting around the horrendously embarrassing elephant in the room for a short while, I asked myself what I was doing. I was too awkward for an online set up, and what did we both really having in common? After all – he loved fighting games and I, personally, never understood them. Being a gamer doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve got something in common. But before these thoughts had any real time to grow, he came out with a line – a line that I know will never forget. After both of us coyly pretending that this wasn’t a set up, he asked me straight out “Okay. Major compatibility question here…”

I took a deep breath. I was expecting a question about political leanings, or my opinion on the recession. How many otters could I fit in a bathtub, or how would I end world hunger? What I didn’t expect was “Who was your starter Pokémon?”

Honestly? I stared at the screen for a second in awe, and then I laughed so loud I think I startled the sheep in the field down the road.  I knew then and there, that I had to get to know this guy more. We spent the whole day talking to each other – asking about gaming, Pokémon and so much more, such as what our favourite flavour of Monster Munch was and how we would react to being attacked by mythical creatures. We finally agreed to meet, and, even though he had to go, five minutes later he was texting me to know more. A sudden romance was rapidly blossoming from that one integral question: who was your starter Pokémon?

We’ve since been dating for two and a half months, and in that time, our mutual love of Pokémon has helped our relationship to evolve (see what I did there?).  A certain event transpired, in the course of those  months, that has triggered an underlying ambition of mine since I first held that blue cartridge on my eleventh birthday 12 years ago; I wanted to collect all 151 generation one Pokémon.

I found my Gameboy Color when moving more things from my parents’ house, and discovered both the cartridges. I headed back to the boyfriend’s house on the way back to my own, and proudly showed him my collection. I was, however, devastated to find that the Pokémon Blue cartridge was not my own. I had lent it to a boyfriend in a previous relationship, and when he returned it after our split, there had clearly been a mix up. Not thinking to check, I only just discovered now that the very first game that I played on my very own console – the very first game that my parents had saved for months to buy me – was gone. The cartridge that he had returned was not mine. It was scuffed and battered, the picture wearing away, and did not hold a game save that belonged to either myself, or my ex. I was devastated. I know that my ex had bought many Pokémon games from eBay, and I’m know it was just an accidental mix up, but it didn’t help me to feel any better. An important part of my gaming history was lost.

I felt like an utter prat. I was sat there, in my boyfriend’s armchair, snuffling over something that really meant dick all in the long run. But he could see how much this was affecting me. After all, it was a game we both loved. I could see in his eyes, he was thinking of anything he could to try to cheer me, but given the weeks I’d been having, it was going to take something big.

While I sat there blubbering and fighting to hold in the tears that had been accumulating over weeks of utter torment, he started shifting around in a crate of his old N64 games. He’d pluck one or another out, and show me with a smile. “Here’s my favourite”, or “I always loved this one”. These games all held a good memory to him, and I knew he would rather cut off his foot than trade them in. Then he pulled out his immaculate copy of Pokémon Blue. He took the case containing my imposter version, and changed them over. Before I had a chance to protest, he held up his hand and said “It wasn’t my first, Red was. So I want you to have mine.”

This is, without a doubt, the most romantic moment of my life. Hands down. It is the nicest and most considerate thing that anyone has done for me, and within seconds I had gone from tears of sadness, to tears of happiness. A game that had, at one time, meant a whole summer of fun and the start of a love for gaming, now held so much more importance. All of a sudden, though made of plastic, that cartridge was weighted with so much love and adoration that I couldn’t help but stare at it for a few moments.

And this, reader, is where my journey truly begins. In the moments that followed, an idea was hatched. We started reminiscing about the games, and I admitted that – even though I had always wanted to- I had never actually completed a Pokémon game and caught all 151 of the original [and best!] generation. Plans were hatched, and I have since restarted Blue from the beginning, with the intention of playing it through and catching them all, with my boyfriend playing through on Red, so that we can do it together.

It’s early days in our relationship, I’m well aware. But these Pokémemories are going to stay with me forever. It’s amazing how differently you can view a game when you find an unexpected player two.




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7 Comments

  1. Keegan says:

    Argh! Honest to goodness Jo, I’m sat here at Uni with tears in my eyes. Sentimental fool though I may be, I still remember my first red cartridge and how devastated I was when it was stolen, so I know just how big a gesture it was to give you his immaculate cartridge.

    Hold on to this one Jo, he’s a keeper.

  2. Toffer says:

    Great article Jo. I would be crying but my eyes, like my heart, are dry like the Sahara. But enjoyed reading the article ;)

    Seriously though, so glad you found happiness.

  3. Kat says:

    You’re welcome Jo :p love you two crazy kids!

  4. Ric says:

    About a week or two into our relationship, my girlfriend told me that her favourite game of all time was Ocarina of Time, and it was at that point that I knew she was (probably) the one. We’ll have been together for three years a week on Saturday.

    Reading this article reminded me of how awesome it was to find a common nerdy ground, and, yeah, I got a bit teary-eyed (shhhh, I’m manly, honest). Lovely article, Jo! I wish you two all the happiness in the world :)

  5. Pete says:

    Awesomeness! He sounds like a keeper to me too :)

  6. Edward says:

    I came for Squirtle, stayed for the article of the year contender.

  7. [...] Both Chose Squirtle,” writes Jo Rowan of Gaming Lives. Great, I think, another Pokémon article about how great and magical it is… So like the [...]

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