I don’t agree with a designated day, made up by card companies in order to declare your love to the people in your life that you care about…but it’s unavoidable. Every shop window is littered with tacky red hearts, gaudy bows and stereotypical sexist gifting and advertisers are shoving ads for perfume and matchmaking websites down our throats.
It’s even spread to the Internet…my God, is nothing sacred?!
With that in mind, I am about to contradict myself using the old “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” retort.
Do you have a gamer in your life that you want to impress? One you’d like co-op with? Or even share a controller with?
Aside from the obvious gaming gifts and requisite peace and quiet for the recipient to enjoy said gifts, here are some alternatives for the special gamer in your life:
1. Build Them A Monument Of Your Love
This exquisite masoleum was built by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife. A combination of architectural styles from all over the world. It’s so impressive that it’s even a world heritage site, now I’m not saying you need to acquire actual bricks and mortar or become a builder, take up construction or even employ the best architects in the world (though, that would be pretty awesome).
When I suggest building a monument for your love, I mean building a virtual one. Whether that be creating a lavish new home for their Sims or constructing a grand ediface in Minecraft out of diamonds you spent months tirelessly mining.
It can be as detailed as you like, a replica of the place you first met, a structure shaped into something they love.
Though, if you’re less inclined to spend that much time on a romantic gesture or have left it a bit short notice then how about hunting and pillaging the ingredients to make them a cake or some cookies? Or you could spell out a message using blocks because sometimes the simple gestures are the best.
If you’re feeling really apathetic or lacking inspiration, suggest building something together, a joint project? Couples who game together stay together, right?
Beware though, Minecraft can suck hours of your life away so why not try something that takes a little less time, like a unique level design dedicated to your Valentine.
2. Design A Special Level For That Special Someone
Games such as Trials HD and Halo: Reach come with level building modes. The Forge World mode in Halo: Reach allows players to create their own levels and game modes. Does your Valentine enjoy using jetpacks? Then create a floating base in the sky. Do they enjoy driving Warthogs? Then make them their very own Warthog race track complete with jumps, rocket launchers and teleports.
Speaking of teleports, does your loved one enjoy both the Portal and Halo games? Then why not recreate a Portal-esque level in Forge World for them? Combining two things the object of your affection loves is a sure fire way to show them you care. Check out this one by x 7revorBlack x
You can even create specifically tailored challenges for your beloved, like in Super Meat Boy or Portal 2. It’s especially easy if you favour PC gaming over console gaming as the possibilities are endless and you can mod practically any game to include special in-jokes, combine games, personalise characters, tweak levels or…make everyone naked, you know, if that’s what your love is into.
3. Collect Or Procure Rare Items
Whether it’s a Dragon Egg, a rare Pokémon or a Forsaken Heart, in this world of consumerism we live in, an item your sweetheart lusts after is guaranteed to make them happy. It’s a win-win situation, you get to play a game, after which your other half gets a thoughtful gift.
Collecting items as a declaration of your love for someone is centuries old, some historical couples have whole museums of art and artefacts dedicated to them, like the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Just make sure you don’t take advice from The King Of All Cosmos and start hoarding enough things to create planets, unless your loved one demands the moon and stars of course!
|What’s that, Temba? You want me to fetch…HOW MANY BEAR PELTS?!|
You could even sell off your own in-game items to purchase something really special or expensive. It might be a monetary sacrifice akin to buying a dozen roses, but it is still a sacrifice and expresses your ability to put your Valentine first.
In-game flowers are superior to real ones anyway, they look nice, they don’t wither away and die if you over water them and you can still enjoy them even if you have hay fever or allergies.
If you’re miserly or short on money or credits, then trading items with a potential suitor, especially when they are rare shows them you care, just don’t make it a habit or they’ll continually come running to you with requests, mistaking your tokens of love for blind generosity.
4. Take Your Relationship To The Next Level
Does your Valentine have a game they play that they just can’t finish? Are they struggling with a particularly hard level? Offer to complete it for them so they can continue enjoying their game. Maybe there are a few trophies or achievements that elude them?
Admittedly, my fear of spiders has hindered me in most fantasy games and I often rely on the kindness of my fiancé to defeat them for me. Offering to help in a time of need won’t go unrewarded. You’ll be surprised just how much your partner appreciates your help and it will show them that you are there for them, whatever life throws at you…spiders included.
Another alternative Valentine’s gift is partnering up on a game you don’t particularly enjoy. Too scared to play Aliens: Colonial Marines? Overcome fear for the one you love. Don’t like the Lego games? Tough. Doing something you don’t like or enjoy for the benefit of your Valentine shows you can make compromises. Plus, maybe next time you load up a game they don’t like, they’ll feel more inclined to help you achieve all those co-op achievements or trophies you need. It’s all about give and take.
Co-op games are a great way to bond and can be very rewarding.
Though, be warned…nothing solidifies or destroys a relationship faster than co-op on Portal 2! Not every partnership in love and science is as strong as the one between Marie and Pierre Curie, the Nobel prize winning pair of scientific lovers famous for working together and discovering polonium and radium.
|For SCIENCE! Er, I mean…for LOVE!|
5. Organise A Surprise (LAN) Party
Who says you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a couple? Invite your friends and theirs and enjoy a fun, gaming session together.
Getting to know their friends and introducing them to yours is inevitable but by adding gaming and friendly competition into the mix you’ll forge strong friendships through a mutual interest in games, thus making it easier.
If some of your friends are single, play Cupid by organising a LAN party so they can meet like-minded individuals.
Alternatively, if you’re lucky enough to live near a gaming bar then arrange to meet your date there for some light gaming and video game themed cocktails.
|The Mana Bar in Brisbane, Australia|
If all of my suggestions seem too much like hard work or you’re not adept enough or simply lack the time to plan an impressive Minecraft monument in their honour you can always choose the ultimate, cheap option and load up a competitive 2-player game and go easy on your loved one. I’m not suggesting you have to fall on your sword as Antony did for Cleopatra and I’m certainly not advocating letting your paramour win on purpose of course…because that could backfire.
If I found out my fiancé was consistently letting me beat him or if he found out I was playing badly on purpose, all hell would break loose. I mean, it’s not exactly a grand royal gesture like the one King Edward VIII made, when he gave up his place on the throne for the one he loved, is it?
If letting them win seems too risky or your ego can’t handle it, then by all means take the boring route and make them a card using the first image you find in a quick Google image search of their favourite character. You might not have imagination but at least you paid attention to that thing they like…I guess.
I hope my alternative gift ideas have given you some inspiration. Whatever you, whoever you’re spending it with, just remember that Valentine’s Day can be any day and you don’t have to buy into the commercial charade of love like everyone else.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!