Final Fantasy XIV means a lot to me and my partner. When I was about to study for my postgraduate degree in another city a few hours away, it occurred to us that this would be the first time that she and I would be forced to spend a long time apart from each other after years of living together while I got my diploma.
She’d read that playing MMORPGs — or any kind of co-op video game — was a particularly good way of spending time together when you couldn’t do so in the ‘real’ world. I’d just started playing XIV after years on Guild Wars 2, so I invited her to join me. It would be her first MMO, and it really wasn’t that long since she’d started playing video games at all, so I didn’t expect it to really go that far.
Since then, she’s hit max level in both expansions, cleared up to Halicarnassus in Omega Savage and was one of the people I hit floor 200 in Palace of the Dead with. It was successful, too, in terms of giving us something to actually chat about — one of the pitfalls of going long distance is having something to say, day in day out, when your only method of communication is something dehumanising like Skype — and, while I expected it to peter out the moment my course ended, it hasn’t.
XIV’s a good game to play with a significant other; it facilitates it more than most, with stuff like tandem mounts and the recruit-a-friend system, and it rarely feels like a waste of time to playing with someone who isn’t on the same level as you when they’re just starting out. But if there’s one thing I can’t bring myself to do, it’s the Ceremony of Eternal Bonding.
Yes, XIV’s marriage ceremony. We’ve been together for almost half a decade but I cannot think of anything I would dread more. It’s not because the idea of marriage particularly spooks me, but the idea of my avatar doing it is more than I think I could handle.
For those who haven’t attended one before, it’s much like an actual marriage. The direction it takes is up to you, but by far the one I see the most (and I’ve been to more than I’m willing to admit) is The Lover’s Kiss. Described as a “Ceremony conducted in a light-hearted fashion”, it ends with, er, you sprouting wings and kissing.
The thing is, it’s a good feature, and it’s a nice demonstration of affection, particularly if you’rein a situation where you don’t have many other ways to show it. You get a ring that lets you teleport to whoever you went through the ceremony with, and during the early days of Stormblood that would have been an absolute lifesaver. We have friends who play the game (including our housemate and a White Mage in our Free Company who goes to West End shows with us), so it’s not like we’d be stuck for people to invite, either.
The standard plan is free, but if you pay for it, everyone gets a gift, too, so — on paper, at least — it sounds like a fun way to give back to the people you play around with. But as much as the bonuses appeal to me, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’d find it too embarrassing, and while we could have one and not invite anyone, that would be somehow even more embarrassing.
I think I just hate anything ceremonious. A good compromise for buffoons like me would be something like a registry office where, as it is in real life, you can just go and get things officiated if you’re not into going the whole nine yards.
I told my partner about this idea when I was running through what I’d write about this week, and she was utterly bemused. “That’s not really the point, though, is it,” she said. She’s right, of course. But I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get on board with it, so maybe I’m the one with the problem. That tends to be the case.
Regardless, I have to say bravo to Square Enix for putting together something for couples that’s more intimidating than raiding together, or, indeed, an actual physical marriage ceremony. I’m sure that if I’m at all nervous when THAT day comes, someone will bring this column up as an example of what a fool I am. But until then — and somebody forces me to eat my words — this is one couples’ ritual I don’t think I’ll ever be bold enough for.
ICYMI: We have a giveaway for UK readers!
Yesterday we launched a Christmas giveaway. We’re sending four festive Moogle plushies to readers in the UK (sorry, those abroad — hopefully we’ll have something for you soon). There’s no gimmick to it — simply sign up here and we’ll draw names next week.