Jake Hoffmann at the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra.
Jake Hoffmann at the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra. Kate Hill

Crows Nest man finds love in computer game

WHEN Jake Hoffmann started playing an online game of Halo PC he had no idea he was about to meet his fiance for the first time.

Since his unlikely story made him a winner in the national ABC Heywire competition, the now 21-year-old has discovered he isn't the only one who has found love in a computer game.

"When I heard the call for Heywire I thought it would be a good opportunity to tell my story, as I had been thinking about how ridiculous and unique it is," Mr Hoffmann said.

"I was surprised hearing so many people had a similar story, and had met on World of Warcraft or other computer games. I know it's happening, but am realising how common it is."

In the submission which captured the attention of the Heywire judges, and audiences around Australia, Mr Hoffmann talked about the feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression he experienced after moving to Crows Nest with his family.

"Pretty much all my life I've lived in country towns, places like Rosewood and Dalby, but Crows Nest is different to me," he said.

"I'd never felt so isolated before I came here.

"Four years ago, I graduated year 12 and I moved out here with my Mum and Dad. I ended up taking on an apprenticeship at the local bakery.

As if moving away from all my high school friends wasn't bad enough, now my schedule was such that I rarely got to play games or even talk with them.

My loneliness coupled with lack of sleep from failing to adjust to my unsociable hours made me fall into what I would reluctantly call a depression.

And, in the typical, stubborn male fashion I kept it all to myself and told no one about it. Something I would not recommend to anyone.

Then Jake met Allie.

"I decided I'd jump into a game of halo pc, one of the few games I was actually good at, but also a game so dead that there were pretty much only American servers left.

"She had the in-game name Kry, with a k, a name she soon changed to Krykie after learning I was Australian.

Her name was Allie. She lived in California. She was sassy and sweet, smart and funny. We clicked in a way I had never experienced before. And we hit it off right away."

The pair dated long distance for three years and in July this year, Jake will move to California where they'll get married.

"I fully understand people's apprehensiveness, and it might be different if it wasn't long distance but we knew we were going to do it anyway. I spent three months over there last year and it was everything I imagined, or even better."

Mr Hoffmann is one of 41 young Australians to win a Heywire 2014 title.

He is in Canberra with the other winners for the Heywire Regional Youth Summit

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