Five Games for Singles on Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm
Valentine's Day is all about love, but it's also about other feelings.

To those with a sweetheart, a happy marriage, a lover or a crush, Valentine's Day is, at best, a time to affirm the mutual love and respect you feel for each other, and at worst it is a day when you exchange mediocre gifts for mediocre sexual favors. But for those who are committed or smitten, it is an undeniably exciting time.

Sure, it may be stressful to nail down the dinner reservations and try to come up with ideas to spice things up (hint: puns always make things sexier!), but unless you fuck up and get your partner a diet book or something, the aura of Valentine's Day is designed to make you feel validated. Everywhere you look, America is both paying homage to and milking money out of your relationship. Though it can be a little disheartening to sense the vigorous corporate hard-on that the greeting card industry achieves on this holiday each year, even that can't dampen the spirit if you're really, truly in love.

But what if you're single? Well, my unattached brethren, we can survive this most syrupy of days. Video games can help. I'm going to tell you how.

If you're not in a relationship, V-Day can incite one of several emotions. As a single person, you have options on how to react. They include:

1.) Precarious Optimism!


You can feel Mr. / Ms. Right coming soon, you just know it! This won't be like last year!

2.) (AffectedNonchalance.


You guess it's pretty cool that all these people love each other and are getting laid. It's not your thing right now, but whatever.

3.) Slight Annoyance.


The third time the couple on the bus give each other an Eskimo kiss and say "Hey.  Love you, babe," you have a passing impulse to turn to them and speak to them in mocking gibberish while exaggeratedly pantomiming their actions.

4.) Barely Repressed Fury.


Listening to the Clash at work, ignoring your co-workers' requests that you please turn it down a little, you stare at the wall, bite your lip and think about that time in fourth grade when your recess boyfriend / girlfriend started hanging out with the wall ball champ instead of spending time with you. That was the moment you knew that love was a god damned joke.

5.) Profound Sorrow.


You have accepted the fact that the only companion you will have on your unremarkable journey toward death will be, at best, a surly cat that is only interested in the food you provide. The cat will, once you die, have no reservations about gnawing on your corpse until your remains are discovered.

I haven't decided on which psychological route I'm going to take yet, but as a gamer I've planned ahead. You see, each of the emotional states above can be enhanced through playing a corresponding game. After much thought, I've selected the five games that I believe can best complement and elevate these different states of being. Through the union of serious gaming and deep feeling, we can create a loneliness as perfect as it is all-encompassing! Here they are:

1.) Precarious Optimism = Parappa The Rapper

Bust out your original PlayStation and experience the unfettered optimism of early hip-hop and rapping dogs. The cute story about Parappa's quest to romance a plant will encourage that fragile, lovely hope in your heart to grow. You gotta believe!

2.) (Affected) Nonchalance = Rapala Bass Fishing 2011

Nothing says, "I couldn't give less of a shit" than dropping everything and going fishing.  CORRECTION: nothing says, "I couldn't give less of a shit" than dropping everything and going fishing EXCEPT dropping everything and going virtual fishing. You get all of the boredom and none of the food! Soon the merry couples and pink storefront displays outside will fade into irrelevance as you lounge about catching bass after bass.

3.) Slight Annoyance = Battletoads

Keep that spark of rage alive inside you: after seeing all the beautiful people in love out and about, come home directly, without speaking to anyone, and play six straight hours of Battletoads. Doing this will melt the areas of your prefrontal cortex that control how much pure frustration you can possibly feel, allowing your peevishness to ascend to superhuman levels.

4.) Barely Repressed Fury = Superman

Convinced that it's cruel, unfair world? Why not play a video game that is also cruel and unfair? Superman will coax the demon of rage inside your soul out into the open. If you suspect that the people of the earth have nothing for you but malice and contempt, playing even a small amount of Superman will cement this feeling so securely as your worldview that you will never be able to read the word "love" again without retching.

5.) Profound Sorrow = Shadow of the Colossus

This game forces you to brutally kill a series of often docile giants in the name of love, and the futility of this exercise is driven home time and time again, until, by the end of your ordeal, you are not only still alone but you've become a monster yourself.


Aaron Matteson writes a weekly column for Joystick Division called Dangerous Physical Appliances 2000. You can follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronMatteson if you want.
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