Stef & Mike

"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

- Harry, When Harry Met Sally


The Proposal

To fully appreciate the relevance of this story, you will require some background information.

Stef & Mike really enjoy the Rock Band video game franchise, which is a rhythm-based game that allows players to assume the main components of a rock band: guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. On many nights, they can often be found jamming away to their favorite tunes; Mike on "guitar", Stef singing.

The developers of the game, Harmonix Music Systems, built a mechanism into the game's main menu screen where they can broadcast daily messages to everybody playing the game, as long as their Xbox consoles are connected to the internet. These messages are typically used to notify players of in-game competitions, or new songs that are available to download, in addition to sometimes broadcasting trivia relevant to the music and bands featured in the game.

Once Mike decided that he was going to propose, he started thinking of a creative way to do it. The first thought that popped into his mind was a proposal on the jumbotron at an Oilers game, but there was one problem: Stef doesn't particularly like hockey. Besides , that was a 12 year-old boy's idea of a romantic proposal.

Then, he began to think it'd be pretty cool if he could somehow incorporate their favorite shared hobby into the proposal. What if he could contact Harmonix and arrange to have them embed a personalized message into the game? It would be very public: there is a potential audience of hundreds of thousands of people across North America that played the game and would see the message, but for Stef and Mike, they'd be in the privacy of their own home. It was perfect!

So, Mike used the internet to contact the developers of the game, and as it turns out, the folks at Harmonix are some of the nicest people you could ever meet! More importantly, they were more than happy to oblige!

After some back and forth communications between Mike and Helen McWilliams from Harmonix, an appropriately geeky yet romantic message was crafted, and it was arranged that at midnight (Eastern Time) on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009, the message would be posted for all to see.

That meant that the message should be available in Edmonton at about 10PM on the 6th. So, that night, Mike suggested to Stef that they have a late-night jam session. Fortunately, Stef agreed. As the disc began spinning, Mike began to get nervous. If the message hadn't been posted yet, they could simply play a few songs and call it a night, but the ring was already hiding in the coffee table right in front of them! He'd planned this elaborte thing, and had psyched himself up to do this TONIGHT!

The game went through its loading screens, then finally, the main menu screen appeared. And right below the standard options, there it was: the message of the day! This one extremely personalized for Stef, but visible to everyone in North America who decided to play Rock Band that day.

"Hey SMRfette, will you marry r3tr0g33k? He has excellent grammar, and appears to be almost 1/3 as good looking as you are. Not too shabby for a Facebook hookup!"

The game itself sometimes personalizes generic messages for the player, so at first, Stef didn't recognize that our Gamertags (the one-of-a-kind user names that the system uses to identify specific players) were appearing in a space reserved for messages broadcast to the entire gaming community. After a second, third, and even fourth look, Stef finally realized what the TV was asking her. Mike reached into the coffee table and pulled out a little box. Stef wondered if it was for real. It was.

And she said "yes".