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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Homestead, Part III: The Synergy

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This part of this series may be the hardest one to write yet, because there is literally enough material to fill a massive tome with appendices and a few epilogues. My sister and I are digital war buddies. If there is a magic system, we have abused it. If there is a leveling system, we have destroyed it. If there is a mega-super-secret boss, we have had such epic battles with it.

I've told you guys over and over about how the three of us siblings grew up playing video games together, how Ami was always at the helm while Nick and I were the support crew. However, what truly defined us as gamers was a classic age that resulted from her getting a decent job and being a no-life student. In this golden era, she would pick up new RPGs for us to play cooperatively, and we would spend close to 60-80 hours on each, roaming these new worlds and sharing in the joy of ridiculously overpowering our characters between each line of contrived and tropeish dialogue in these humongous worlds. This was our nirvana, if you will, huddled in her basement room, each of us wrapped in our own onion-like layers of blankets, controller cords snaking out of them like lifelines.

In this era, we finished no less than four RPGs together, including the likes of 'Tales of Destiny 2, Tales of Symphonia' and 'Final Fantasy IX,' not to mention the amount of time I spent watching her play 'Final Fantasy VII,' 'VIII' and 'X.'

But seriously, do you know how cool it was to have a sister that wasn't a diva, wasn't a drama queen and didn't give a flying hoot about the latest fashions? I had a sister that flipped 'Final Fantasy X's' sphere grid. She could talk about disc priest strategies for raids or PvP in 'World of Warcraft.' Heck, she even held her own in first-person shooters.

It wasn't really about that with me, though.

So many people have to walk through this life completely estranged from their siblings. I've watched families fall apart due to brothers and sisters carrying grudges like suitcases from year to year, constantly pummeling each other with the mistakes from the past. They still bicker after something tiny drove a wedge between them in decades past. That kind of an approach to your siblings always confused me.

Did my sister and I have our disagreements, arguments and fallouts? Of course we did. But in the end, our mutual love for our favorite hobby would bring us back together again and again, forcing us to face issues and talk through them. There was no undercurrent of bitterness between my sister and me because we talked them out over leveling mobs in 'Goldshire' or miniboss fights in 'Final Fantasy.' Because we depended on each other for help in various games, there couldn't be anything that forced us apart, or the performance of our teams would suffer.

Now, I'm not insinuating that games are the only thing that kept me and Ami close over the years. However, the fact remains that when you have the equivalent of a water cooler to talk over each and every day, you find ways past your differences and discover ways to meet in the middle. At its very core, gaming is a social, shared experience. Because of that shared experience with my sister, I owe much of my ability to talk through issues with people to gaming with my sister. It followed me to my various workplaces over the years, striving to connect with people despite our differences in opinions and make wherever we were better for our unity.

I'm married now, moved away, and embroiled in a 40-hour work week, but I still make time to play something co-op with my sister. There's just no excuse not to spend time with one of the most important people in your life, even if it's just grinding mobs.

Aaron Waite's sister does still hold a grudge for his dispossession of a certain 'Zelda II' NES cartridge. Can't really blame her for that one.


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