It’s been two weeks since Rayman: Origins and I broke up. The breakup was sudden though not on bad terms, but certainly a bit untimely- a mere 3 days before my 25th birthday. I’m going to unpackage this.
Back sometime last fall, probably around October or November, I can’t recall exactly, I went and purchased a Playstation 3 on a whim. I’ve always had consoles around prior to this recent generation which I never invested in, as for the past decade or so I’ve been much more interested in PC gaming. I really wanted to play Catherine and Dark Souls specifically though, and I eventually gave in and bought a PS3 just for those two (great) games. Rayman: Origins came out around this same time period and I really fell in love with the art style and the idea of a really solid platformer especially one with multiplayer aspects. My two closest friends and I had a history of randomly playing co-op games together, though that was something that was mostly in our younger years and had fallen to the wayside as we got older, and more commonly we tended to spend our time drinking and going to bars. This was largely due to my influence. I saw Rayman: Origins as an opportunity for us to go back and play a silly co-op game together and relive a little of our past, unfortunately though, we never seemed to get around to it and shortly thereafter one of those friends revealed his plans to join up with the Navy, with a deployment looming indeterminately in the next few months. We were all interested in Star Wars: The Old Republic so I bought us all copies and that we poured ourselves into that instead, that becoming our last sort of gaming experience together before our group would be split up by our friend’s departure; Rayman: Origins fell to the wayside.
Fast forward to February- it’d been two weeks since my friend’s deployment- I met a new female interest and her and I were in the introductory stages of dating: the first meeting and the first dates, the hours spent talking and getting to know each other, the fun things that come along with a new budding relationship. I found myself in a unique position, this was the first time in six years I had found myself on dates with a woman who was a self-professed gamer; this was incredibly exciting to me. I’ve dated a lot of women in my quarter of a century and though I’m always been a gamer since my formative years, my interest in gaming has always been something which has only been tolerated, but not shared. Seizing the opportunity I tossed her a controller on one of our hangouts and we tried a bit of the Catherine co-op, which was understandably a bit dense to jump right into; even after beating the entire game soundly the extra stages in that game and especially co-op mode are incredibly challenging to play. So after a brief foray, we set our controllers up and Catherine aside. The next time I found us hanging out at my place I remembered Rayman: Origins and pulled it out for us to play and it hit instantly. The great art, the music, the general whimsy and atmosphere of that game alongside the super tight platforming and controls just make it a fun game; and though the levels ease up in difficulty to requiring incredibly precise timing the game works wonderfully in co-op. Every aspect of Rayman: Origins screams wonderfully thoughtful design and dedication in a way most modern games just don’t anymore. The developers clearly loved this game.
Playing Rayman: Origins instantly became one of our things. We continued playing together and our relationship progressed as we progressed through the game. We spent Valentine’s together sharing a romantic nightime picnic under the stars; she asked for definition for us and we became a couple. We began spending more and more time together and would squeeze in playtime on Rayman whenever we felt the urge- while we predrank before going out dancing or to restaurants, on bum nights in after my classes and her work. We had romantic evenings just spending time together playing Rayman while we talked and drank wine, or our usual Rum and Coke; I even devised some romantic and cheeky competitive drinking games we would engage in with our game time which always ended with the background music looping idly and us tangled up in bed. The times were fun, and I was enjoying it; we were rapidly approaching the final stages of the game and were even only several prosthetic teeth away from unlocking whatever secrets the gummy bastard was hiding with his bulbous head, but in the moments between the gaming and the romance, there was an air of unease growing between us.
The last night her and I spent together and the last night I played Rayman coincided. That night we had a couple drinks killing time before our movie started and the conversation lead to an unexpected emotional rise from her. I apologized and attempted to broach the subject again later in the night but she preferred to leave it undiscussed so we went ahead and watched our movie (Silent House of all movies, talk about ominous), then went back to her place and played more Rayman: Origins- reaching the last few levels before going to bed. Completion was within reach finally, after our month of time investment here and there, but I had other things on my mind than the ending and I didn’t sleep that night, I laid in bed beside her lost in thought until the sun rose: I analyzed our situation, formulated what I needed to say, ran through things over and over in my mind. The next morning proceeded like so many other mornings, we made love passionately, exchanging “I love you’s” in the heat of the moment as we were wont to do; then she proceeded to get ready for work and I got ready to pack my things and head home. I told her we needed to have a discussion soon about everything, I planned to have it another day rather than rush it, but she insisted we talked then. We had a long personal conversation; at the core were my concerns over whether she was really ready to be in a relationship, she admitted she wasn’t. It was sudden and frankly unexpected- I hadn’t began the conversation with the intent of things ending right there, but life operates that way; it was a civil and amenable end we both agreed was for the best. She walked me to my car, we said goodbye, and that was it for us, and for our Rayman.
I haven’t played Rayman: Origins again since the break up, in a way, it would feel wrong -especially to finish it out alone- the game and the relationship are so closely tied into a singular experience, I’d rather just appreciate it for what it is. The way things ended, it’s all such a beautiful metaphor- the relationship for the game, and the game for the relationship and who am I to spoil it? Rayman: Origins is a wonderful, artistic, jaunty, whimsical, fun love affair.
You can quote me on that, Michel.