When Graham and I met, it didn't look as if we had much in common. I was a chubby ex-nun with a social life consisting of church events, while Graham was a programming student at TAFE with a gaming obsession. I remember most of our first dates revolving around various movies, followed by dinner.
This was nice and safe, but eventually, we ran out of movies we wanted to watch in the cinema. Plus, it was really expensive. We tried various activities - swimming, picnics, going to the beach, but soon realised that we were both homebodies. If given the choice between going out and staying at home, we found ourselves preferring to relax at home. But what should we do there?
For all that he enjoyed spending time with me, Graham started to miss his gaming hobby. He talked about it a bit with me, but I had little understanding, having spent two years in a convent where all electronics were shunned. I realised that computer games meant a lot to him, and I was happy to listen to him talk about them, and watch him play them, but I didn't show any inclination to join in.
Eventually, I think Graham realised I was unwilling to join him in his hobby, not because I thought it silly, but because I felt I would be bad at them. He asked me if I had ever played any computer games. I thought about it, and then remembered an old game from years ago. It involved building a civilisation up, from having just one or two little peasants to a thriving city with farms, castles, monasteries, soldiers and cavalry. The aim of the game was either to destroy all one's opponents, or completely advance through all historical ages and build a world Wonder before anyone else.
I couldn't remember the game's name, but I told Graham about it anyway. Surprisingly, he recognised it from my description, and had a copy of it at home. He installed it on my laptop.
As I played it, all these memories came flooding back. The game was called Age of Empires, and I had played it with my brothers. Unfortunately, limited playing time, and several siblings clamoring for a turn had made completing a game very difficult. I remembered how much I had enjoyed playing. Then Graham asked if I wanted to play with him. I agreed, and we sat down and built civilisations together all day.
I think it was then I became a gamer.
It didn't take long for me to feel comfortable learning new games, and Graham and I became gaming enthusiasts. We spent hours together enjoying games - much to the chagrin of Graham's parents, who had hoped a girlfriend would get him out of the house! But we were happy. We had found something we truly enjoyed doing together.
I am glad we found gaming good as a shared hobby. We initially had little in common, and it would have been easy for us to have drifted away from each other over time. But now, Graham and I are best friends, able both to work and play together. And, to be honest, I get a kick out of beating him at his own games now!
Now, I'm sorry, but I have to go. I think I need to play a round of Age of Empires...