Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

IRLJanuary 21, 2022

I met the love of my life playing a first-person shooter online

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Caprice and Adam, a couple from Wellington, met through an online game. In March, they’re getting married. They shared their story with Shanti Mathias for IRL

Caprice: In 2014, I started playing a game online called Tribes: Ascend. It had a capture the flag mode where you played on opposing teams and had to steal the flag from each other’s base. I was a flag capper: I went into enemy territory and grabbed the enemy flag and brought it back to my team. As I played I realised that, whichever server I was on, there was a player on the opposing side who was very good. He would consistently catch me and take the flag before I could get home. I was initially impressed, then frustrated – I decided I really hated that player, and wished they would go to a different server. 

What I didn’t realise was that, due to a quirk of the game, you could add friends without them having to approve you. Unbeknownst to me, this other player – who was Adam – had added me as a friend so he could see where I was playing. He liked the challenge I posed, so he made sure he could play against me on different servers because I didn’t make it too easy. 

Adam: I had played in the world championship of Tribes: Ascend previously, playing as a flag capper; the same role as Caprice. But I wanted to get better, so I looked at the world leaderboard and found the top players. I switched roles to play against them on different servers. Caprice was very good, and she played the most often, so I followed her to a lot of matches. But we only came together in the unlikeliest of ways, thanks to our mutual friend CantoHedy666. 

I was wondering about playing in the world championships again, even though it was a crazy amount of stress – you have to put in so many hours. But he invited me to a private server to practise, and I was interested, so I showed up the next day. 

Caprice and Adam normally played on the Diamond Sword team, as Diamond Sword pathfinders.

Caprice: Because it was a teamwork game, you made friends, and one of them, CantoHedy666, invited me to a private server, saying that he was making a team to practise together. “We could really take this seriously!” he said, and I thought, “That’s great”, and joined the server the next day. Then, five minutes later, Adam joined too, and I thought he had followed me in again. 

“This is invite only,” I said in the text chat. 

Adam: I said, “I was invited.”

Caprice: I thought, “Oh no!” But it worked out well because, when we were on the same side, we made a good team. We were using a voice chat to communicate as we played, and I was initially too shy to join, because only one person in the game knew I was a girl.

Adam: Even in 2014, it was way less common for women to play video games. And lots of them pretended to be guys so they wouldn’t have to deal with what it’s like to be a woman on the internet, which is fair. 

Caprice: So I said my mic was broken.

Adam: We all knew it was a lie. We thought you were probably a squeaker. Eventually Caprice joined the voice chat. We were playing together for three hours and I finally went, “You’re a girl!” I was really surprised. 

Caprice: I said, “Uh yeah, what did you think?”

Adam: Once we started playing together, we just kept going. 

Caprice: Our team was small, and the other players had other commitments: extracurriculars, homework, work. So it always ended up just being the two of us. “I have another five hours free, what about you?”  

Adam: Between us, we covered the two pivotal roles in the game. We won a lot of our matches because we played together. 

Caprice: We started playing together and Skyping in August, and by September we were playing other games together. We were talking a crazy amount, especially during summer when I didn’t have school, I had whole empty days. I think our longest Skype call was 16 hours. 

After seven months of this, in early 2015, we had invented a game called Policy where you could ask any ridiculous question and the other person had to answer truthfully. 

Adam: And then I asked Caprice if she loved me. Straight into the deep end. 

Caprice: I was really concerned about what might happen if I answered. But he wouldn’t have asked if he didn’t want an honest answer, so I said yes. That worked out. 

Adam: That’s the day we consider our anniversary, because we never had a first date. 

Caprice: By this time, we had a tight group of online friends where we all played games together, and we started telling them that we were in a relationship. Nobody was surprised. 

My family were used to me staying in my room and playing video games all day anyway, so it took a while for them to catch on. My mum would squint into the room to try to gauge what was happening, and I eventually told her – she was pretty chill.  I definitely neglected some of my friends from school; a little bit of self-awareness could have gone a long way.  

The goal of Tribes: Ascend is to capture the red Blood Eagle flag; a recipe for romance.

Adam: I was living in the Bay Area in the US, in a born-again Christian family where I was not allowed to have a partner outside the church. So I didn’t tell my parents we were in a relationship for the two years we were long distance. 

Eventually when I moved to New Zealand to be with Caprice, my parents – through Facebook stalking – figured out that I had a girlfriend. They were definitely surprised but actually took it really well, and they soon came out to New Zealand where they met Caprice and absolutely adored her. So it all worked out in the end.  

Caprice: Because we met online, and we already had the shared interest of gaming, we could foster a close friendship before thinking about anything else. 

Adam: Sometimes you can spend more time with people online than physically. That said, you still need in-person interactions even if you have your online friends. 

Caprice: We didn’t have the opportunity to be together so we were a lot more communicative and open and vulnerable. That’s such an important part of deep connection anyway, so of course online connections are valid friendships. 

We’re still really close to lots of the friends we made gaming online. We’ve sent some of them invites to the wedding, but they can’t come because of the border restrictions. In a world without the pandemic, they’d be able to attend, because they’re an important part of our community. 

We live together now, but we still game together. The internet has had such a positive impact on our lives. I didn’t expect to meet the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with playing Tribes: Ascend, and I especially didn’t expect it to be that guy who really annoyed me because he was so good. But here we are. 

Adam: It was certainly a pleasant surprise.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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