My first "real" relationship ended terribly, and it was all my fault.

Sometimes, with girls I'm interested in, I fall for them before I even know who they are. What that means for me, is that although oftentimes I'm absolutely happy, smitten with the girl I'm dating, none of it is real. The girl I'm smitten with doesn't exist, she's only in my head.

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Meanwhile, there's this wonderful, beautiful, smart, complex, and funny woman right next to me who is hurt that I don't see who she really is. I never really got to know her.

By the time it was all over, she hated me for seeing her as I wanted to see her, not who she truly was, and I hated myself for not truly listening to her and finding out who she was. I never gave myself the chance to truly be interested in her, and it ate at me inside.

In middle school, my friends would pore over this image. We had a friend with a subscription to EGM— he would bring it in and I remember getting a lump in my throat. I was so excited to go home and unlock them. Though I wasn't anywhere near good enough to rack up 20 KOs in cruel mode, one of my friends had a brother who did, and unlocked Sonic and Tails. She was going to give me her memory card so I could copy the data over.

Of course, it was all fake.

But that excitement of there being something in the game that I hadn't yet found, something big, beautiful, and fun— that stuck with me. Imagine playing Brawl having forgotten Sonic was in the game, and seeing him there for the first time.

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This is largely something that doesn't exist anymore— not because of the internet, but because as soon as a game is open and is popped into the disc drive, it stops being the game you think it is, and simply becomes a game. Unlike my problems with my first girlfriend, this makes games worse.

Think about it. Right now, I have images dancing in my head of what Saints Row IV, what W101, and what the next Grand Theft Auto games all could be. They're ideas— not just ideas about the games, but ideas about how much I will enjoy them. I'm imagining impossible scenarios where I sit down and play a video game without stress, without any other responsibilities or plans, and without distractions— not to mention the fact that I'm imagining the perfect video game.

No matter how good a game is, no matter if it's Ocarina of Time, The Last of Us, or Halo 2— no game can measure up to its imagined quality. Now, that's not to say that games can't surprise me any more— they can, and do, and I love that.

But when you open a game— it's like Schrödinger's cat. It's no longer this messy glob of wonderful and chaotic gameplay elements in your head. It's just a game. And you play it.

And you're surrounded by real life- by friends you want to hang out with, by a job you need to go to, by dinner you have to cook, by your nagging conscience telling you you really need to go to the gym and do those dishes. In your head, no video game experience includes these distractions. It's perfect- a zen-like place where you play perfect games in the perfect atmosphere.

The only catch is, to get there, you can't play the game.