Dec. 31, 2013 at 12:31 PM ET
Four or five months might seem like a long time to spend preparing for a proposal, but when one video game developer summoned the courage to ask for his game-loving girlfriend's hand in marriage, he had his work cut out for him.
Exactly how Robert Fink would propose to Angel White (both 24) was an idea the he’d been sitting on for three years, when the two first got together at Portland Art Institute in Oregon. At the time, he'd been watching what he describes as “an embarrassing amount of proposal videos,” when he came upon a cute video game another guy made for his own girlfriend. The two ideas — albeit a bit early in the relationship — clicked.
“I was inspired and had always kept it in the back of my mind," he told NBC News. When the time came, Fink knew, he’d plant his proposal inside video game.
In 2013, the time was right and the results speak for themselves: An adorable pixelated 2-D game he dubbed “Knight Man: A Quest For Love,” a tearful “yes” from White, his future wife, and their own viral proposal video, viewed nearly 1.5 million times on YouTube.
Fink, now a video game artist with SuperGenius in Portland, worked in secret several nights a week for months before presenting the game to White — as a company prototype he wanted her to test. Once White, a freelance Web developer, started playing the game, however, she quickly figured what was going on.
Cast in a deliberately retro, pixelated style reminiscent of the early "Super Mario" games, "Knight Man" puts players in control of a cartoon knight who must evade myriad obstacles like pits full of spikes to assemble pieces of a ring and rescue a princess. Once the knight completes the challenges, he bends down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage.
"She's all teary eyed, I'm teary eyed, she gets to just before the end and I'm like ... 'finish the game!'" Fink wrote on the game's website, which is aptly titled "Pixel Proposal." Finally, when the knight completed his challenges, he approaches the princess and bends down on one knee.
"Angel White, would you do me the honor of sharing your life with me?" a text box prompted before giving White the option to select "yes" or "no."
"All of a sudden I was fumbling around for the ring, in this velcro bag making all sorts of noise, I get down on one knee," Fink continued.
She picked "yes."
As one YouTube commenter wryly observed in in response to Fink's video, "Nothing says I love you more than collecting yellow dots."
Given their penchant for ensnaring players behind lifeless screens for hours (or days) at a time, video games might not seem like the most romantic vehicles. But this isn't the first time that video games and romance have mixed— even for clever marriage proposals. As game developer Mike Mika recounted earlier this year in a humorous interview with Wired, he hid his marriage proposal inside a Game Boy game. Alas, his wife-to-be didn't bother playing the game for several years after he finished it.
Even once a proposal is accepted, gamers find fun ways to keep playing. Last year, a couple sent out wedding invitations in the form of a role-playing game complete with its very own boss battles.
For Fink and his future bride, "Knight Man" was particular special because of how important video games have been to their relationship since they first met.
"We both grew up playing "Mario" and other games on Super Nintendo," Fink said. "We are far different gamers now, but still find time to play games together. She is more of a competitive gamer and I am more of a 'play everything, buy all the games, gaming ADD' gamer."
When it came to proposing, however, Fink knew that their mutual love of games gave him the perfect opportunity. The man sees video games as more than just a job. "I don't really believe in destiny, but it seems fitting to use that word the way things have worked out so far," he told NBC News when describing his career path.
Still, challenges in the relationship await. Like any young couple so invested in the game industry at this tumultuous period in its history, White and Fink do face one notable question: should they buy an Xbox One or PlayStation 4?
"I want the PlayStation 4 first, and Angel wants the Xbox," Fink said.
Does this mean trouble in paradise?
Thankfully, no: Fink simply said "so we will probably have both … just not anytime soon."
If that — the ability to set aside the deep-seated differences of the next-generation video game console wars — is not a sign of true love, then I don't know what is.
Watch the heartfelt proposal below:
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com.