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Published on September 7th, 2013 | by Nick0
Pyramid Head and finding Love through Bonding
I would never say I’m a bad ass, but I’ve got my share of fear inducing stories to tell and how I stared them all down. Honestly if a told these stories I would use words like guns, gangs, fistfights, burning buildings, edged weapons, skydiving, Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, Air Force CAP, choke holds, rappelling, survival camping, extreme weather backpacking, bears, rattlesnakes, caves and Newark DMV. I don’t go looking for trouble but sometimes a man’s life will put trouble in his path. So I take it in stride, contain the fear, fall back on what I know and persevere. No muss no fuss.
Except for scary movies.
Not slasher flicks – Jason and Freddie stuff – I love those. I’m talking about ‘real’ horror movies like The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, Event Horizon, An American Haunting, A&E Forensic Files…those movies make me want to compensate by covering myself in a pile of lop-eared bunnies. I seriously can’t sleep when a movie makes me consider the uselessness of dealing with the supernatural embodiment of true evil.
But my wife on the other hand…she LOVES that stuff!
She thinks the creepier, more twisted and more disturbing the better. How did I get involved in this relationship? She says she likes the stories of good versus evil laid bare. The worse the evil, the better the good looks by comparison and the sweeter the victory, or at least the happiness that you are not living in that movie.
I don’t know…don’t ask me…it doesn’t make sense to me either.
Since I am the video game guy, you’d probably guess that this story has something to do with video games (and you would be right), but that comes later. This article is really about a particular time – a window in every relationship that moves it to the next level of commitment and togetherness.
There comes a time when you know you are with someone special and you can see a long future together. During this time, you are not doing the things to make each other happy in a superficial, courting way. Instead, you are genuinely occupied with each other’s happiness. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s what was going on when I said “yes” to purchasing a video game at the behest of my love, Su.
Su: “Did you see that trailer for the new Silent Hill game? That thing looks amazing!”
Me: “Hmm? Yeah, I think I saw it in a magazine.”
In reality, I suffered through a dial-up internet connection (it was like 1999 or something) to download a trailer out of a morbid sense of responsibility and hubris – I am a video game developer, I should know the new releases – and the same kind of draw that makes you rubberneck at a car accident…you want a glimpse of how bad it could get.
Su: “Would you get it for me?”
Sneaky. I know she can’t play reflex thumb-stick games.
Me: “You want to play that game?”
Su: “Well, I’d like you to play it for me while I tell you what to do and watch the story!”
There it was! I was trapped, not only was she giving me the rare gift of a material desire on a silver plate, to play a video game with a girl is still nearly unheard of, but the hidden barb was in order to take advantage I had to PLAY THE GAME. Silent Hill…a franchise I left behind on one of my many post-collegiate moves – Oops, must’ve lost it. Truth is, I quit after less than 2 hours of play and hid it under the milk-crate-end-table next to the wooden-spool-table so it wouldn’t get played again in my presence. And that was PS2 Graphics! What my love was now requesting was a new Xbox game…practically a launch title! You could hear the blood it looks so real!!!
What the hell is wrong with Cooking Mama?
Me: “Sure I’ll pick it up this week.”
For the next month, after we both got home from work and until we couldn’t stay up at night any longer, we played Silent Hill 2. It was difficult as f*ck. Thank you, cinematic controls! “Our game isn’t scary enough, WAH! Let’s make the aiming and walking complicated and unresponsive so there will be real fear of our checkpoint system too!” It was also scary as hell (it was around this time that I started taking showers in morning so I didn’t have to at night after playing this game.)
We would play at night and AIM chat – Remember that thing? – about it during the day trying to piece together the psychotic wailings of delusional game developers in the form of psychotic wailings of a clearly disturbed hallucinating schizophrenic . Honestly, if that was me in that game, the minute I saw the mannequin rape or the stitched up nurses I would be out of there…even if it was the whiskey and sleeping pills way. This guy, James, keeps looking for his wife, even when it’s clear she’s a betenticled – New word AND a spoiler! I win today! – manifestation of malicious and tortuous evil. Now that’s husbandly devotion!
By the end, I’m exhausted…we’re both sapped from the final run and the investment we’ve put into this experience.
My wife sits quietly trying to understand the game and see the ending while fitting all the plot lines together. If you’ve never played a Silent Hill game before, they have a tendency to leave some elements up to the user. This is good storytelling practice because the unknown can create some of the worst fears.
I sit quietly because I just did something I would never, never, never have done…go from beginning to end in a survival horror game. Resident Evil was good, but still felt like a game. I was still a bad ass in RE. In SH, I was constantly running for my life – confused and shocked at every physical turn and plot twist.
In hindsight, the game turned into an analog for relationships. In the game’s story, the husband was confused and felt that finding his wife, no matter the opposition, was the best thing he could do to make sense of his mad world. When they finally got together, he realized she was never there at all and had committed suicide. Her body, while still on the hospital bed, came back in a manifestation of the demonic forces he’d been fighting all along. He was lost, his wife was gone, and now that reality wanted to murder him. What made him fight back, even at the very end when he realized everything he was searching for was lost, was probably the early memories of his wife – the memories of her that made sense when they looked out for each other. Even the suicide was an effort on her part to protect him from the evil.
This is deep sh*t to be analyzing with your bride to be, but nonetheless, we were doing it day-in and day-out, every night, hour by agonizing hour.
Like I said, I was exhausted.
We watched the credits mostly in silence. Finally, Su said, “Bed time?” in a weak but hopeful voice.
Relationships go through stages. There are special moments on the timeline of a relationship where bonds are made. This is after courting with all its necessary frivolity and superficial pomp, and before things become rote and predictable, which is also necessary for stability and comfort. This usually happens at the time before marriage, or before kids, or maybe after kids go away to school – I don’t know about the last one…I’ll tell you when I find out. But I’m sure there are many windows of opportunity where bonding is more likely, more frequent, and holds with greater strength.
Bonding is an important part of all relationships and it usually is the result of shared experiences and moments of heightened intensity. This is why your boss wants you to trust fall onto your cube farm friends – being scared sh*tless and the potential for injury makes your monkey brain raise the status of the people around you just for sharing in those experiences. It’s like the Ben Franklin Effect or boot camp.
But for me, my relationship, my wife and millions of other couples out there, some of our shared experiences and bonding came during a video game.
Today’s video games let us experience things never before seen and out of our reach. And just like real life, this stuff is best shared with friends and maybe even a soul mate.
Don’t let this sway your choice towards being a hermit or an agoraphobe. Get out and hike a mountain every once in a while. Go ahead and try to collect your list of shocking words like mine up there. Just don’t discount the ability of a video game to help build stronger bonds with your wife, your family or your friends.
I say this because some silly horror video game called Silent Hill 3 had just given my wife to be and I an intense, shared experience that created bonds that stay with us to day.
Once more, I provide proof that video games can make the world a better place for all of us, even where they were thought not to tread – the marital relationship. Love made better through games.
After she asked me if it was bed time in her weak but hopeful voice, after we witnessed and partook in virtual atrocities unmentionable, I replied with a phrase that stays with us to this day – a secret code that means “I don’t think I can handle much more right now, today was pretty horrifying…I think I need a break from it all for just a bit.” From then on, whenever we say this phrase, we always know exactly what we mean.
“Sure, but I think I need to watch some Comedy Central first.”