Dedicated to my oldest friend, Shayla Duval, who helped in nearly destroying my Suikoden II strategy guide.
When it comes to RPGs, I had a bit of an interesting childhood. Growing up, I played RPGs mostly co-op with my best friend from childhood, who admitted to being a backseat gamer. When we were growing up, my mom would always ask me what was the next latest, greatest, RPG to come out. She'd take me to Rogers Video and allow me to get whatever I wanted and I'd stay up for long hours simply going through the motions. The moment I had bought or rented a new RPG, I always called my best friend over, and we'd sit taking turns playing our newest treasure.
Of course, being young girls we were slowly getting out of the "boys are icky" phase, and starting to realize just how "cute" they were. Of course, we had our crushes on the boys in our classes, but one thing we also gravitated towards were the male heroes within RPGs. As we played the games we'd pick who our boyfriend would be for that particular moment, and when we finished escaping, we'd come up with our stories for that particular character. In fact, back when .gifs were cool, we'd open up Power Point, write a story related to our RPG boyfriends and then animate it in a slideshow. We wasted many hours doing this, but it gave us a joy that clearly real boys weren't providing.
Every time I got a new RPG, my mother always bought me the strategy guide to go with it. I didn't own a computer until my first year of high school, so whenever I wanted to explore the worlds outside of my gaming time, I'd study the guides as if they were precious tomes. Using whatever information I could glean from them, I'd file it away to create new stories involving my favorite character. Funny enough, I was such a tomboy that the majority of my stories involved the characters often going on longer journeys with little to no romance. Writing my own stories in someone else's universe gave me a lot of respites from the problems I had been facing as I was growing up. Being someone who was bullied a lot as a child, I found that RPGs allowed me to escape into a world different from my own; it gave me the chance to be someone I wasn't.
Despite my school troubles, my best friend and I continued in our ways, discussing the latest adventures of Flik and Viktor from Suikoden II or the misadventures of Kyle and Nash from Lunar. The funny thing about being best friends is that we never had the same taste in video game boyfriends like the way we did the boys in our classes. When we were obsessed with Star Ocean: The Second Story, she would talk about her love of Claude, while I would giggle over my love of Ashton. We'd waste countless hours attempting to get every Private Action in the game, as my best friend would yell "Push the beds together!" For us, these worlds were special, well crafted, and something we essentially wanted to be a part of.
When high school finally hit, the dynamic story-writing duo parted ways. I had moved to a new town, where I had to make new friends who, for the most part, were not gamers at all. She, on the other hand, went to a well-regarded high school where she met her future husband. It's funny to think now how much we adored writing our snippets of fanfiction back then. How we fought over fictional characters that weren't even our own. We still see each other, and it just so happens we still reminisce about these days of old. RPGs and video games were the wonder drug that brought us together, and it's amazing to think nearly twenty years later that we are still the best of friends that were originally brought together by a Buster and Babs Bunny plushie and an old Super Nintendo.
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