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This is Captain Gamer, superhero and columnist. On the side, he works at a five star restaurant called the Pixel Palace, substituting for the regular bartender Dominic when needed. There, Captain can meet his old video game friends when they come in to have a drink. Sometimes, they share stories and even secrets. For as we all know, what the bartender hears is confidential... isn't it?

-

So I'm sitting there tending bar when in walks a very good comrade of mine, Mai Shiranui of SNK fame. I call her a comrade because we have worked in the field together. We've also shared some awkward moments - not through any deliberate fault of either of us. But you know, that awkward moment ended up being a basis for our bonding as colleagues. Mature adults are like that.

And on this particular day a lot of guys may not even recognize her because she's dressed in regular civilian clothes. I don't know how temperature works in the SNK universe, but in the real world people get cold. Anyway, she comes in and has a seat. We have our familiar hellos and she orders her sake. I know, the Japanese character likes sake, how predictable. But to be fair, sake is good regardless of stereotypes. I pour her some and she tells me to leave the bottle.

"Uh oh," I say to her, "What happened? You weren't reading doujins again, were you?" Doujin being a colloquial term for unofficial comics posted online. Often X-rated in nature. Or at least the ones she comes to the bar to forget.

And on that note, I imagine it's hard being one of gaming's most sexualized characters. Go on. Look at any list online of sexy female characters and Mai will be up there. It doesn't help that in the games she's dressed up like a present with no wrapping paper. And - I don't know - for some reason her breasts are depicted as having their own physics. It was titillating to me earlier in life. Now, not so much.

Of course, she keeps her mouth shut until I surrender the bottle. After a swig and an exhale she says, "Nah, that doesn't bother me. We have a support group for that now." Swig again, this time she lingers on it. After she says, "So many men out there want to sleep with me... except for the one I actually like!"

If you're not familiar, the lucky guy - depending on your definition - is Andy Bogard, an American martial artist. She's been chasing after him, I think, ever since her character was created. And Andy has just been oblivious or evasive. But this - this story, what I'm talking about right here - is recent. As if I wouldn't know about this information. So I do tell her that, I say, "You've been after him a long time. What's getting you down about it now?

She says, "You don't understand. I am now in the real world as an existing, independent person. Everything I think and do isn't some construct of a designer or writer. I can think for myself! So hey, maybe now I can free myself from that love."

I say, "Programming too strong?"

She gives a huge sigh and says, "No. Andy's even more awesome in the real world! He visits fans, donates his winnings to charity, teaches self-defense, speaks up for the repressed, motivates people to love and improve themselves, and is generally really nice and big and toned and tasty."

I tell her, "I get the picture."

"And one time," she says, "I saw a picture someone took of him holding a puppy. And I swear to god it was like a waterfall down there."

I give her the eyebrow at that. We're in public, here. I just say, "Really?"

And I have to give it to her that she has conviction, because she just says right back, "Yes, really. And it sucks! Here I'm looking forward to being a free-thinking individual and now it's worse because I'm a slave to passion. I'm now choosing to base my entire existence around this one person!"

I nod along and I concur with her, I say, "Yeah, infatuation is a strong thing. I should know. And far be it from me to throw any damper on your passion. But just one friendly piece of advice, okay?"

She says, "Shoot."

And I say, "Just be careful how much of yourself you put into this. I know that anything worth doing is worth doing to the best of your ability, but sometimes getting what you wish for gives you all the more to lose. Stay with me, this is all hypothetical and I'm not saying this is what's going to happen to you."

And she is giving me the benefit of a doubt.

"What you're wishing for is an opportunity with Andy - and at this point you are vying for merely an opportunity because clearly he's not going to head-over-heels in an instant. Say you get that opportunity. He gives you a chance. You go out some. Things go alright. You do everything - everything - in your power to keep him happy and confident that he's doing to right thing. You make no missteps and everything you do gets the response you want."

"And then sometime later - a month, three months, a year... two and a half - you start getting these moments where he's thinking about other things. Clearly the honeymoon is over and you can't be joined at the hip, but you still feel something is out of place. And you ask him if anything is wrong and me might say that something is and you work it out but the bottom line is he's not feeling like demonstrating on the relationship at the time. And, of course, we're all human. We have those moments where we just don't have the capacity to be everything that's expected of us all the time."

"But then these moments just keep happening. And he makes it up to you less and less. And you stay understanding. You give him his space. You let him breathe and think for himself. You don't suffocate him or act needy or push him away. You're there to listen to him and he takes that offer up less as time goes on. And pretty soon you're spending more time giving him his space while still doing everything in your power to help the situation."

"And then one day you have one of your talks and for once he has something to say. You think he's made a breakthrough or has a solution, but he's not that happy about it. And he finally says it: 'I don't think it's going to work out.' Not because you did anything wrong or even that there's somebody else, but because there just isn't any spark anymore. He's always thought of you as this friend and reliable comrade. Someone with common interests and willing to stand by when things get hard. Just, no romantic involvement."

"And he knew the entire time that you had this interest, but he didn't want to wreck the camaraderie you already shared. It kept him up at night whether to tell it to you straight or actually give you a chance. You wanted it  so much and you earned it that he decided to give you that  chance. And who knows, maybe it actually would work out. And it did for a while, and you both were happy. But the way he felt about you just couldn't change despite your best efforts. He tried to keep it going, oh did he try, but that fundamental feeling stayed in place. So he has to end it before the effort drives too wide of a rift between you and you can stop torturing yourself by having these expectations that he can't fulfill no matter how hard he tries."

"And where does that leave you? Confused, betrayed by your own heart, suddenly empty inside, and only able to see the world in this dark, faded sepia tone. But by no means blaming him. If anything, he put in more effort than you asked of him! He stretched himself thin for your sake! And when it became too much, he did what was necessary to spare you both what could only amount in more pain!"

"But the fact remains that you put so much time, so much effort, so much of your heart and soul into this one vision of the future that you don't know what to do with yourself! The very fiber of your being was invested in this relationship panning out that now all is emptiness! And not just emptiness but pain! Because now you've associated everything - EVERYTHING - with him and the context of sharing it with him as a lover. And now that the relationship is confirmed never to happen, everything you know is a cruel joke! Nothing doesn't remind you of him and how you failed to make the one thing - THE ONE THING YOU EVER COULD HAVE WANTED IN YOUR LIFE - to happen!!"

"And you can't even console yourself by saying you're better off without him! Because he wasn't bad to you! He thought of you every step of the way, even when breaking up with you! But all the same you can't comfort yourself that way! And he doesn't feel as bad as you do! He feels as bad as possible for putting you through the breakup, but he is incapable of feeling this pain that is yours and yours alone! He'll even offer to let you vent it all out, but this isn't something that's simply vented out! And his offer to help you only gives you false hope that he isn't serious or will go back on this breakup thing! And every gesture he offers will only give you MORE false hope!"

"So you have to avoid him in order to keep on generating for yourself this false hope. And he's not even giving you this false hope on purpose! So you can't call him out on it! And you don't want to tell him this either because he might suggest you spend some time apart and that's the LAST idea you want to put in his head but it might be a good idea but you still hold onto that last shred of your feelings toward him which just HANGS ON despite your best efforts and you don't want to frustrate him and have him believe that you're dwelling even though that IS what you're doing and that all the more makes a period of separation a good idea and you just keep going in circles and circles and CIRCLES AND CIRCLES until you're just this quivering ball of volatile insecurity whose only perceived option is to turn EACH AND EVERY negative emotion on yourself because you want to spare everyone else the fire and the bile and you convince yourself it's okay as long as you're the only one getting the hurt and the pain from all of this emotion."

[Captain stops talking for roughly two minutes]

Cameraman (offscreen): Dude, are you okay?

I'm fine. I'm okay, I'm fine. Excuse that. But you know... I think that is what I said. In- in the story. Back then in the Pixel Palace. To Mai. Naturally everyone in the restaurant was staring at me because I raised my voice. Not unlike what you just saw now. I let everyone know that I'm okay and things ease back to normal. Of course Mai doesn't stop staring at me. She just says, "Wow..."

And I apologize to her in turn, I say, "Sorry about that. But, uh, I hope you did get, well, something out of that."

And she says, "Yeah, but... Is this still going on with you?"

I'm at full disclosure enough by this point, so no point in clamming up now. I say, "Yeah. Mostly when I'm alone. I'm fine when I'm not thinking about it."

She comes off a sip of her sake and says, "Yeah, when you're keeping busy, right? That's how I cope with my Andy addiction. I put my mind to something else and it actually works pretty well. You write, don't you?" I confirm it, so she says, "You should do more of that. Like, consistently. Make a blog or something. I've been doing some dress design on the side and it's been helping me."

I shrug and say, "I have been meaning to do it more."

She puts down the cup and says, "There you go. Get busy. You can't go wrong replacing sadness with creativity. And check back once in a while, okay? I will be asking you how that blog's going next time."

We have a laugh. She pays for her drink and sees herself out the door. I'm mulling over what we agreed on and even starting thinking about what it is I was going to start keeping myself busy with. Then after a few moments I pause and say to myself, "Wait... what just happened?"

-

You see a lot of strange things as a bartender. You see a lot of strange things at the Pixel Palace. So, I see - and sometimes am part of - a lot of strange things as a bartender at the Pixel Palace. And that's no lie. Swear to it.
Video Game Confessions featuring Captain Gamer: Mai Shiranui

Based off of Doug Walker's "Video Game Confessions" series at That Guy with the Glasses.

thatguywiththeglasses.com/vide…

A series in which I take my own crack at the Video Game Confessions formula with Captain Gamer as the bartender. My style gives video game characters more relatable issues with generally positive outcomes. However, don't count out the occasional zany and tongue-in-cheek moments that the original is known for!

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:iconanakinrose-hedgehog:
AnakinRose-Hedgehog Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The counselor becomes... *sunglass'd*


the counseled.
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:iconcaptain-gamer:
Captain-Gamer Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Even those who give help need to receive it once in a while.
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:iconanakinrose-hedgehog:
AnakinRose-Hedgehog Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So who's next on the confessions list? Samus? Conker? Only you know.
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:iconcaptain-gamer:
Captain-Gamer Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Sheva Alomar.
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:icontriplestar100:
triplestar100 Featured By Owner May 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thanx again for taking the thought I gave you last month into consideration, Captain G! I've gone thru a series of similar periods as the ones described on yhis one, to be honest, yet I've learned what Mai said to be true: just occupy your mind on constructive time & goals and the anguish of the past diminishes in a quite dramatically sahort time. all that said... that ending had me rolling for a while! awesome punchline on the closing to an otherwise poignant tale! keep up the great work! (that reminds me... I gotta see when I can get some time off from work to make the story-complementing marker sketches I offer on doing for this series. once I get it, I'll begin graphwork for sure!)
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:iconcaptain-gamer:
Captain-Gamer Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome. And thank you in turn for the idea. I tend to take those things and really run with them to make (what I hope are) good stories. And yes, I pretty much am going through exactly what was ranted in the story. So it wasn't entirely melodrama for the sake of the punchline. I don't know where I'd be without using creativity as an outlet.

You know, I actually was thinking about the sketches. I was going over all the episodes I've done and was thinking how it'd look. No rush, but I am pretty eager and curious now.
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:iconviper-x27:
Viper-X27 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014
You try to help her with advice and she ends up helping you.
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:iconcaptain-gamer:
Captain-Gamer Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Life is unpredictable like that.
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