Arts & Culture | Video Games

Two-Player Mode: Me, My Brother, and Our Gaming History

We spent hours, whole evenings, whole weekends, absorbed in ‘World of Warcraft.’

“Help, it’s the boss!”

“The thing about that chair,” Aneil told me during a recent video call about our gaming lives, “was that it became the directional arrow, so using it made me feel more connected to driving and flying without being able actually do those things in real life.”

One evening, I was lured into Aneil’s room by the amazingly rich graphics on his PC monitor. As I watched him play, I was awed by the staggering vastness of WoW, but I wasn’t a fan of the player versus player (PVP) dynamics, which felt too hostile. When Aneil informed me that I could play on a player versus environment (PVE) server, where other players wouldn’t be about to mess with me, I was persuaded to try. When we picked a race and class for my character, I half-jokingly typed my brother’s name in to see if anyone else on the server had it. No one did. My first and eventually highest levelled WoW character was “Aneil” the undead mage. With WoW, I found an escape from the pressures and disappointments of my life. I logged into its world as often as I could.

The last time Aneil and I played a game together, before he moved out of our parents’ home, was in 2011. The game was Portal 2. In a rare role-reversal, I handled the controls while Aneil sat either in his wheelchair next to me or behind me on my bed. It’s one of my fondest memories of our relationship before I, too, eventually left home.

Through Brodie, gaming re-entered my life. He played on PC and owned a PlayStation 4. I hadn’t played for a while but hearing him talk about it was enticing. When we moved in together, Brodie made a point of installing Dragon Age: Inquisition for me. It was the first time I’d gamed in over six years. I fumbled at first as I slowly got accustomed to the PS4 controller, a far cry from the early days of up, down, left, right, A and B. As I played, those familiar feelings returned: the joy of immersing myself in role-playing, a buildable character in a lush and well-storied setting, the melting away of tensions from the workweek, the sense of sheer enjoyment. After a couple hours of play, I saved, logged out and thought to myself: “This is good for me. Why did I stop for so long?”