The Tender Side of Gaming

Hold me, love me, hold me, love me

For the past couple weeks, the words “hold me,  love me” have been bouncing around in my head like a DVD logo ricocheting across an idle screen.

My boyfriend Hudson asked if I was compulsively humming “hold me, love me” as some unbridled expression of my id. While I do immensely enjoy being both held and loved, the reason I can’t get those commandments out of my quasi-poisoned brain isn’t because of some deep desire to be further held and/or loved, but rather, because I’m a gamer.

Recently, I tried out Beatles Rockband on Wii, and ever since belting out the 1964 hit “Eight Days A Week,” its hook—“Hold me, love me, hold me, love me / I ain't got nothing but love, babe / Eight days a week”—has haunted me like a specter.

In our rough and tumble modern world, seldom will you find a tender space to be held and loved. But as a relatively new gamer, I’ve found a certain tenderness in video games that has surprised me.

I grew up in an all-female household, and never had any sort of interest in owning a gaming console. Whenever I’d play a videogame at one of my male friends’ houses, I would quickly grow frustrated because I didn’t know how to use the controller and wasn’t around anyone with the patience to really teach me how everything worked. I thus viewed videogames as boring and hard, distinctly masculine, something inaccessible to a girly-girl like me. (As it turns out, I have more traditionally masculine than I previously realized.)

I only began to slowly develop a taste for videogames when Hudson and I moved in together, and he brought along an Xbox, Playstation, and Wii. It took me a while to get a hang of all the different controllers, so it wasn't until I started cosplaying as a cowboy in the astoundingly well-made Red Dead Redemption 2 that I really got into gamer life. Since then, I’ve been enjoying various iterations of the Grand Theft Auto series, and despite its reputation for being the most violent and “bad for kids” videogame around, I’m enamored with its humanity and warmth.

Image result for gta san andreas kiss

The kiss.

GTA: San Andreas offers a co-op multiplayer mode, meaning you play with—not against—another person in the same room as you. You and your gaming partner (in my case, Hudson) can traverse the open world together, killing cops and rival gang members. But the only option the game gives for directly interacting with the person you’re playing with is kissing them. That’s it. I can’t recall any other game that has a feature where you can command your avatar to kiss another person you’re playing with. (If you can think of one, please reach out!)

A videogame where I can kiss my boyfriend: How tender and wonderfully silly! It’s literally all a girl could ask for in this cold, hard world. What a strange and beautifully dystopian way to express your eternal human desire to be held and loved.

Check out my latest for Esquire, wherein I write about millennials and the emerging non-alcoholic beer market.

O’Doul’s certainly found a niche demographic upon its debut three decades ago, but it didn’t make the biggest splash. In the U.S., NA beer has earned a reputation as the preferred beverage of retired cops, suburban dads, and reformed alcoholics. Famous fuddy-duddy George W. Bush—who, as you might recall, was the presidential candidate who voters most wanted to have a beer with—is fond of drinking what he’s dubbed “non-beer.” Notable square Mike Pence is also known to partake in a risqué Friday night routine of enjoying an O’Doul’s with a slice of pizza.

Now that a new generation of American adults are dabbling with sobriety, NA beer is finally inching toward something resembling fashionable. (A GlobalData report from earlier this year found that it's the fastest growing product in the beer industry.)

Regarding my last newsletter, I have some updates on our movie grades.

I rewatched the 1990 Paul Verheoven classic, Total Recall, which is one of my favorite movies ever. It got an A-. It’s so visually-stunning and funny and perfectly dystopian. For anyone who wants to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger yell about Mars, it’s ideal.

Also, Death to Smoochy, the Danny DeVito-directed comedy, starring Robin Williams and Ed Norton, is a hidden gem. Would absolutely recommend.

Lastly, I was really high when I watched Monsters University and fell in love. Does it deserve an A-? Probably not. But it made me laugh so hard and cry and feel things, and in that moment, I really needed that.