Gary and Stephy
But when Gary Hudston's girlfriend Stephy celebrated her 21st birthday this week, he relied on a game to help express his feelings -- and what resulted is one of the best video game marriage proposals of all time.
A little backstory: The couple had been dating for five years, and Hudston had always promised that his proposal would be both geeky and unique. Having made up his mind to take the plunge, he reached out to the modding community for critical darling Portal 2. The result was a fantastic trio of levels for Portal 2 that eventually led to a proposal voiced by none other than the game's lovable villain, GLaDOS.
"I surprised her with the mod after she was done opening her presents," Hudston told Yahoo! Games. "She was confused at first, but played along as she knew I was clearly up to something. She tells me that it crossed her mind that it might be a proposal but she decided that she was getting ahead of herself and that it was probably just an elaborate birthday gift. That was until she realized that GLaDOS was talking directly to her."
"From that point on she was quiet, save for some muttered disbelief and, by the time GLaDOS was asking her the question, she was in tears. When she looked over to me I was already on one knee with the ring. Also in tears."
In-game proposals have happened before, but part of what makes this one so engaging is that Hudston had managed to enlist the help of Portal 2 creators, Valve Software.
He didn't have a lot of luck at first, but then reached out directly to Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS.
"She was just lovely, and with her help we were able to contact [Portal 2 writer] Erik Wolpaw who promised to try and fit in some time to record some dialogue for me," says Hudston.
A month later, Wolpaw told him of an opening in a recording session. Hudston stayed up until 4:00 am putting together words that rang true with GLaDOS, but still made it quite clear that he was proposing.
That took care of the audio, but he had no game to go with it.
Hopping onto the forums of ThinkingWithPortals.com, he put out a call for help — one that was answered by talented modders Douglas "TopHATTwaffle" Hoogland and Rachel "Miss Stabby" van der Meer. Over the next six weeks, the team worked furiously to brainstorm and complete the mod. (Want to live the romance? Hoogland has graciously made the proposal mod downloadable.)
It takes a special kind of gamer -- and future spouse -- to pull off a cool video game proposal, but when they're done right, they're pretty spectacular. One gamer named Phil asked his now-wife to marry him by hacking her copy of Chrono Trigger, while a developer from Bioware proposed to his girlfriend (who also happened to work at the studio) by building a custom level in Minecraft.
Hudston's proposal was certainly more high-profile. And one thing's for certain: When the couple finally does get married -- currently scheduled for February 2012 -- there's bound to be no end to the "The cake is a lie" jokes at their reception.
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