Valentine’s day is upon us and for hardcore gamers, like myself, that can only mean one thing, diving deeper into whatever game we’re currently playing and pretending it’s just another normal day.

    Of course I’m stereotyping here, there are those gamers who have managed to find that special someone that doesn’t mind losing you for days at a time whenever a new game comes out (teach me), but for the rest of us, the only ‘love’ we see is when our character reaches that point in their story.

    In honour of pixilated love, here is a list of some the best love stories in gaming.

    8) Mario and Princess Peach – The Super Mario Brothers Franchise

    Of course this had to be on here; the original gaming couple (if you don’t count the two paddles in Pong).  Mario and Peach have been in love since the first time Bowser kidnapped the Princess and remained strong throughout all the other times Bowser kidnapped the Princess. Whilst I don’t agree with the gender inequality of having the main female character in a series mostly being used as a damsel in distress, they are in love, and in the end isn’t that all that matters?

    7) Dominic and Maria Santiago – Gears of War Series

    Spoiler alert: This one was rough. Whilst we don’t actually see them be together as a couple, apart from the occasional flashback, Dominic and Maria qualify for this list due to the sheer determination Dom has in trying to find his wife. When he does find her, however, she is not the same (huge understatement) and the heartbreaking, mercy killing Dominic has to give her is one that left a few of us a little bit emotional. It also shows how much he loved her as after this event; he is never the same again. Poor guy.

    6) Ellie and Riley – The Last of Us

    This one may not be apparent to everyone who played the game as it was originally available as downloadable content but is certainly one of the best. What makes this one more remarkable is the setting of the game itself. In the world of The Last of Us, there isn’t much joy or hope – much like a microwave lasagne – and to see Ellie and Riley slowly realise their feelings for each another in the middle of such a horrible place is very powerful. Let’s not go into how it ends though. It’s certainly not cheerful.

    5) Duke Nukem and Himself – Duke Nukem Series

    He kicks ass and chews bubble gum, and he’s all out of gum. Whilst not a guy you would take home to meet the parents – unless your parents are awesome – Duke does have a lot of love in his heart. OK, it’s mostly for scantily dressed strippers, weapons of mass destruction and himself, but that is why we love him. Duke loves himself, we love Duke, Sloth loves chunk. It’s all good.

    4) Corvo Attano and Jessamine Kaldwin – Dishonored 1 and 2

    What is it with love and tragedy in gaming? They seem to go hand-in-hand. Another gaming couple we don’t see spend a lot of time together is Corvo and Jessamine, but their love for one another is evident and is shown with their interactions through the ‘void’ and the love they share for their daughter, Emily. Corvo constantly refers to the time he spent with Empress Jessamine and how much he misses her, but it is worth mentioning that if she wasn’t assassinated, we wouldn’t have had two amazing games; so sometimes love needs to be destroyed for me to be happy.

    3) Shepard and Liara – Mass Effect Series

    I will start by saying that I have never played a Mass Effect game. I know this is a terrible slight on my part but the timing was never there. I’m sorry. I had to ask a friend of mine to come up with who he thought was the strongest love interest in the game (he has achieved Platinum in all three games, the guy knows his stuff) and he narrowed it down to Liara and Ashley. These names mean nothing to me but I was assured by a him that these two are the most important as they are available from the first game all the way to the third. He chose Liara as he always let Ashley die in the game. Love overcomes all things, especially the death of a rival love interest. (Thanks Iain for the help with this one).

    2) Player and Literally Any Bonfire – Dark Souls Series

    If you’ve played the games and suffered like I have, you will know that there is no greater joy in the world than when you finally reach a bonfire and can bank those accumulated souls. Praise the Sun.

    1) Mordecai and Bloodwing – Borderlands 1 and 2

    I know, I know, this one seems weird. It’s a man and his pet bird, but love comes in many forms. Whilst not a romantic relationship, it is a strong one, arguably the strongest in the series. Spoiler alert: His breakdown after the violent demise of his beloved pet, just like Dominic for his wife earlier, shows how much he loved Bloodwing. Plus I am just happy to bring up the Borderlands games. They are awesome.

    Geralt of Rivia and Triss Merigold – The Witcher Series

    How good is The Witcher? Seriously, it’s the business. A full and rich gaming experience that has several ‘romantic’ paths for our hero to choose from. The main two being Yennifer and Triss. Both would be worthy of being on this list but for me, Triss is the natural choice. Yennifer is just too aggressive for me, plus who can resist a redhead? Especially one made of pixels and who can’t break your heart in real life.

    That’s a strong list right there. Full of hope and romance. Let me know in the comments section if you agree or if there’s any you think that I missed out. These things happen. I know I’m not perfect. That’s why I’ll be spending Valentine’s Day eating a Pot Noodle and levelling up.

    Barry Carlin
    Favourite: TV Series - The Wire. Film - Inception. Book - Catch 22/Fight Club. Game - Bloodborne, Borderlands 2 or Fallout New Vegas (Can't Decide). Comic Book Series - Old Man Logan or Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe.

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