Sell a story about how you met your partner
This is how Vicky Teather’s story about meeting her husband Paul in an online video game, Final Fantasy, appeared in the Daily Mail.
By ALISON SMITH SQUIRE
They seemed an unlikely couple. He was a handsome warrior clad in armour; she was less than half his height with sticky-out ears and green hair. But when Paul Turner and Vicky Teather met through their seemingly mismatched characters Andurus and Branwen in an online video game, it kindled a remarkable real-life romance.
And now, after growing close as they guided their virtual alter egos through the world of Final Fantasy, they have married.
Computer programmer Mr Turner, 27, and design graduate Miss Teather, 29, are thought to be only the second couple in Britain to marry after meeting in a video game. Mr Turner was living in London and his wife-to-be studying at university in Southampton when they met through the game, which allows characters, or avatars, to talk to each other through messaging systems. Both had been playing for about 18 months.
Mrs Turner, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, said yesterday: ‘Andurus, albeit a cartoon type character, is strong and physically attractive but it was Paul’s caring personality that really shone through. ‘One day, when as Andurus he endangered his own character in the game to save me, I felt an incredible bond between us.
‘It might sound strange to people who have never played an online game, but the fact he was a traditional man with values to match and was protecting me was what first drew me to him.’But she only realised just how attracted she was to him when Andurus left the game after Mr Turner started a new job.
They had been playing for up to five hours a night, but he could no longer spare the time. ‘It was a shock to realise I had a crush on an avatar, someone I had ultimately never even met or spoken to on the phone,’ she said. ‘And I couldn’t help but feel guilty as I was living with my partner. At first I tried to forget my feelings.
‘But I couldn’t. Fortunately, I had Paul’s MSN address and nervously sent a message to him telling him how much I missed him and confessing my feelings.’
He had a long-term girlfriend, but after messaging for a few more days he suggested they meet, which they eventually did on Christmas Eve 2008 outside Southampton station.
Mr Turner said: ‘As soon as I saw Vicky I knew she was the one for me. Incredibly, although we’d never met in real life before, because of our virtual fantasy relationship we already felt we knew about one another. ‘In fact, we both admitted neither of us had ever felt like it before.
‘Neither of us wanted to have an affair, and yet the attraction in real life was as strong as it had been between our avatars. So on Boxing Day I finished with my girlfriend and in the New Year Vicky’s relationship also finished.’
They began visiting each other at weekends, and in the week continued ‘dating’ in the game. In September last year they married – with the wedding cake featuring their avatars in icing.
Social psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy said ‘cyber-dating’ was attractive for middle class professionals. ‘With bosses expecting longer hours, they have less time than ever to go out socialising,’ he said. ‘So people are turning to not just online dating but entering into a virtual fantasy world to meet a partner.
‘Intelligent people like the control they have over their character. You are not revealing your whole self straight away and if you don’t want to talk to someone any more, it is easy just to click out of the fantasy world.’
Two years ago Kristen Birkin, 33, married Steve Sweet, 47, after meeting while playing another internet game called Second Life.