Photo courtesy of Jenny Le, [] Caption: Sophomores Jenny Le (left) and Ashley Van (right) are pictured on the left at one of their homes, where they often spend time together. On the right, the home page of Fantage, a game they mutually played for a year, is pictured. In this game, users are able to customize their avatar, view their achievements, edit their profile, and meet other players.

Van and Le’s friendship levels up

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Sophomores Ashley Van and Jenny Le prepare to show off their best outfit to win first place at the fashion show. The competition is high but they always attempt to have fun with each other, regardless of who wins. 

In 2015, Van and Le were introduced through mutual friends and officially met at a Halloween carnival that their school was hosting. They knew of each other before, but this was the first time they had been formally introduced. The games they played during the carnival stirred up many conversations about how the games they played. 

“[When we first met], I felt awkward,” Le said. “I did not think we would be friends, and it made me nervous talking to her. Once we played bean bag and ring toss and got our [faces] painted, everything felt natural since we had spent the whole day together. We were both pretty competitive which made playing the games together more fun.”

Van and Le’s friendship continued because of their shared interest in Fantage―a multiplayer game consisting of a range of activities, featuring a customizable cartoon avatar.

“It showed us each other’s creativity,” Le said. “We learned more about our interests in life and what [we] liked and didn’t like since Fantage was a virtual game.”

With a vast offering of activities, this simple game elevated their friendship from being friends to best friends as they were able to bond over shared interests.

“We always played the fashion show game with one another,” Le said. “We also went on different quests to obtain limited edition items for our closet. We just played the game daily to accumulate more money to make our avatars better.”

Fantage has not only been a game that pushed them closer, but it has given Van and Le life skills that can be applied to the real world. It brought them strengths that can be applied to both their friendship and lifestyles. 

“We became more extroverted because we got to communicate with others pretty often throughout the game,” Le said. “There were many opportunities to play with other people such as multiplayer games and parties that people hosted at their houses where we got to meet other players.”

Fantage was discontinued in 2018, and although Van and Le had already stopped playing by 2016, they felt as if a part of their childhood and friendship was missing.

“Sometimes we bring up memories from when we played together and reminisce about the beginning of our friendship,” Le said. “Obviously we grew out of Fantage so it didn’t affect us too much, but knowing that the game is now gone forever is a little bittersweet.”

Now, not a day goes by without them either texting, calling, or video-calling each other to do homework and catch up, which is how they can maintain a healthy and steadfast relationship. They continue to spend time together by baking and cooking Tik Tok recipes, or recreating food from their favorite restaurants. By continuing to spend time together, they know that their bond will be limitless. 

“We both enjoyed doing the same things so we know we will find new things to do,” Van said. “Being together for years allowed us to grow closer as friends. We have basically grown up together and can’t imagine our lives without each other.”

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