Deep down, you realize they’re not real. You understand that what you’re seeing on screen is only pixels and polygons, that what you’re talking to is only a voice actor plus script and that what you’re supposedly interacting with is only a fancy collection of programming codes.
Sometimes, however, you can’t help but be a little fooled. Some videogame characters are so convincing, so fascinating, so charming or simply so damn good-looking that you can’t help but fall a tiny bit in love with them. Especially when you’re a young, dumb, naïve and impressionable kid…
Know the feeling, or the character? Share your “first” in the comment section below. These are ours… and not one of them is Lara Croft or Princess Peach.
David Meikleham, Content Editor UK:
Admittedly, it’s hard to justify a gaming crush when the object of my virtual affection looked like this…
Still, this mangled mess of fugly 32-bit polygons and even fuglier textures was the equivalent of sex on a CD back in 1999. Sexy, sassy and with a strength that reminded me of Ellen Ripley, Meryl was a true pioneer for strong female gaming characters in a time when Lara Croft was a role model for lower back pain.
Miss Silverburgh didn’t exist merely to give Snake motivation; she existed as a fully-formed character in her own right. A character with her own personality and faults. She provided strong motivation for the player as well, no doubt. Because her relationship with Snake was one of the first (and sadly, still few) believable love stories in games, the desire to save her and resolve their tale was palpable throughout.
This is where my crush stems from. A complex woman filled with her own foibles and quirks. And, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with a poorly rendered set of PS1 knickers. Obviously.
David's most recent crush: Meryl Silverburgh (Metal Gear Solid 4)
Tyler Wilde, Features / Community Editor:
Yorda may not have been my very first gaming crush (I think Cammy from Super Street Fighter II may hold that title), but she’s the first that I can remember clearly. I am one of the younger staff members at GR, so in 2001 I was still a bag of hormones and acne - a high school student with an awkward gait, oversized teeth and the social skills of one of those creepy fish that live at the bottom of the ocean and never see sunlight or interact with anything but microorganisms.
The outcast angle was relatable, and ICO’s hero was an outcast for a much cooler reason than the nonsense about Existentialism I was coming up with: he had horns. He also had a princess - the beautiful, taller, older Yorda, who was both strong and vulnerable, didn’t talk much and had all the intrigue that everyone around me lacked. You saved her, she saved you and, in the end, you were like the coolest dude in the world.
Above: The coolest dude in the world with the best princess ever
Imagine if the game hadn’t ended when you washed up on the shore next to Yorda. Suppose you walked back into the same town that stuffed you into a sarcophagus and left you for dead. “Hey guys, I defeated an army of shadow creatures and an evil queen, my horns are gone and this is Yorda. She’s a princess.” Bitches just got told.
I would have loved to walk into high school the same way, but since that was particularly unlikely, I just kept to myself and drew pictures of all the wonderful things that would never happen.
Tyler's most recent crush: Liara T’Soni (Mass Effect)
Cheryll Del Rosario, Web Designer:
Before Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp made piracy cool again, there was Guybrush Threepwood. Scrawny and pale, with an oversized head and ridiculously tiny feet for his frame, he was far from the stereotypical ideal of a mysterious yet dashing pirate. He wasn’t very good at fighting, kind of a coward and, generally speaking, a big dork. But, much like Captain Jack, he had something else that captured my 11-year-old heart those many years ago.
He was funny.
Self-deprecating and goofy, Guybrush wasn’t afraid to laugh at himself, at others or at his enemies. Any other pirate in his pitiable situation would’ve hung up his eyepatch, but Guybrush’s persistence and humor granted him the ability to vanquish his arch rival LeChuck over and over again.
And he got the girl! It just wasn’t me. Sigh.
Cheryll's most recent crush: Junpei Iori (Persona 3)
Charlie Barratt, Senior Microsoft Editor:
For regular readers of the site, this choice will come as no surprise. My well-documented obsession
with the Gabriel Knight games, a series of classic point-and-click adventures from the 1990s, has become something of a running joke here. You still might be wondering, though, how my infatuation could possibly extend to the dull and dowdy bookworm pictured above.
Well, this will sound like a total cliché, if not a total fabrication, but personality mattered. The other “women” I had encountered thus far in gaming were two-dimensional sprites, generic damsels in distress or pandering digital pinups. They had zero personality. Gabriel’s assistant Grace Nakimura, on the other hand, had loads.
She was smart, solving mysteries about voodoo cults, werewolf murders and vampire bloodlines with ease. She was sarcastic, able to deflate Mr. Knight’s swollen ego with a single witty comment. She was independent, disobeying her parents’ wishes to follow her own dreams. She was vulnerable, alone in a new city and clearly in love with a protagonist who did not love her back (at first, anyway).
Above everything else, she felt real. To a more pure and innocent me, that was more attractive than any skimpy costume or nude cheat could ever be.
Charlie's most recent crush: Franziska von Karma (Phoenix Wright)