Simple question, and you can elaborate as much as you like.

When I was in high school, I played through the .hack//GU series as the games came out. While I eventually came to hate the series a little bit (primarily because it's only got enough content to be one game, but it was instead padded out to three "volumes" because $$$$), I really enjoyed a lot about them. Whenever the plot was actually happening, it was REALLY good. One of my favourite aspects of the series was the only video game crush I ever had - the female lead, Atoli.

Atoli wasn't like most female video game characters - she wasn't drawn with huge tits, she wasn't particularly sexualized in any way, and she was timid and sincere without being overly ridiculous in those elements like most anime-style characters are. I don't 100% remember these games... If I remember right, Atoli starts off helping you on some mission, purely out of kindness. She regularly invites you on missions, and at some point, she thanks you for not taking advantage of her kindness. As you go on, it's eventually revealed that Atoli, at least in the real world (.hack takes place in an MMO), is a person who has been thoroughly bullied and abused throughout her life - and she has realistic "tics" to validate it. Whenever she's cornered by people or bullied or whatnot, she gets very nervous, just like a real person with anxiety problems.


After repeated in-game abuse during the second chapter of the series, Atoli completely loses her mind. This moment, for me, was probably the most emotional I'd ever gotten in regards to a game. While she always fought her pain and did her best to make others happy, she got to a point where she just couldn't take it and had an emotional breakdown. In the game world, this caused her to transform into one of the main bosses, and one of the hardest bosses in all of the games. While you fight her in a glitchy version of a classroom, you hear distorted screams of "WHY DOESN'T ANYONE CARE ABOUT ME?!" and things like this.


It was this realistic character arc that just... Floored me, I guess. I related a lot to what this character was going through at the time. I felt the abuse and hatred from my peers, I wanted to timidly hide away - and when I couldn't escape, I just exploded in anger. I felt so much of that, and when I found a character that went through all the same emotions... I felt a sort of attachment. In a weird way, this character's futile fight for self-confidence and appreciation caused me to fight harder for my own. While I did go through most of college and high school in a state of anxiety and timid misery, I never forgot this character - and I think today, I'm strong because of that.

In an odd conclusion to all this, I met my fiance in an MMO. She was extremely kind, but very timid and very unwilling to talk about her personal life. She, too, was generally unappreciated and neglected. While I don't tell myself "She's Atoli!", the character... Made me capable of identifying her, I suppose. The friendship between my fiance and I started mere months after she had gone through a terrible phase of depression. I showed her the kindness and appreciation she deserved... And the rest is kinda history. :>

Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear your stories as well, so please share them!