How a video game served matchmaker to this UAE couple

Arshiya Faraghat and Yousif Tammam met through 'League of Legends' and have been married since 2017

by

Husain Rizvi

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Arshiya Faraghat in a gaming session at her home. Photos by Neeraj Murali
Arshiya Faraghat in a gaming session at her home. Photos by Neeraj Murali

Published: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 6:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 11:11 PM

Video games are a waste of time. Don't play video games or you will not graduate. Don't play video games or you will not get a job. Don't play video games or you will not get married.

Most gamers, if not all, have heard these phrases from their parental figures growing up. Video games have been looked down upon for years now, but, funnily enough, here's a person who achieved several milestones in his life through gaming.

Yousif Tammam, a Bahraini expat who has been an avid gamer his entire life, is a project manager in the gaming industry. And the icing on the cake? He got married to the love of his who he met through a video game. (A dream for all gamers).

Arshiya Faraghat, popularly known as xArshyy (her streaming name), is an Iranian expat in Dubai. She's a digital creator who streams video games, and also regularly hosts esports events across the UAE, the latest being Blast Premier World Final 2023, held at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

The two met through a video game and are now happily married since 2017, and also have a daughter named Lyanna. The couple are based on the borders of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We visited their home to speak to them about their life as a gaming couple, and also checked out their gaming setups.

'When he gave me the skin, I knew he was the one'

Arshiya and Yousif's love story unfolded in the vast landscapes of virtual worlds, guided by the hands of fate and a mutual friend also named Youssef, who now bears the title of gamer matchmaker.

It all began with League of Legends, a popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game by Riot Games, where their paths converged.

A friend, with the conviction of a matchmaker, orchestrated their meeting, declaring, "You guys are the same. You will connect, trust me. And then you'll marry her."

"That's basically what he told me straight up," Yousif recalled during a chat at their home.

Arshiya Faraghat
Arshiya Faraghat

Little did they know that this seemingly casual introduction would lead to a lifelong adventure.

Yousif, in Bahrain at the time, and Arshiya, pursuing dentistry in the UAE, found themselves bound not by geography but by the cords of their gaming systems. Their bond strengthened through shared victories, defeats, and the unmistakable chemistry that only fellow gamers could understand.

After a year of virtual camaraderie, they decided to level up their relationship. But it wasn't a straightforward journey; Yousif had to prove his worth in the gaming arena.

"He had to work for it," Arshiya said. "It wasn't as if we just played a couple of games and I said yes. No, he had to carry me through the games, buy me a couple of expensive skins. And then there was this super expensive Lux skin, the Elementalist Lux - when he gave me that skin, I knew he was the one."

Their first physical encounter occurred in Sharjah, again set up by their mutual friend. In an unexpected twist, they realised that they had crossed paths long before League of Legends brought them together. They attended the same school (Dubai National School), even shared mutual friends.

"It is crazy how we both always had a mutual connect but never actually met until League of Legends brought us together," Arshiya said.

Favourite video games and gaming setups

Talking about their shared gaming interests and individual favourites, Arshiya confessed her love for challenging games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Bloodborne, relishing the struggle against formidable bosses.

"I was addicted to League of Legends, that's all I was playing," Arshiya said. "I don't want to give Yousif too much credit, or boost his ego, but he did show me all the games that I was missing out on. I realised I love games like Dark Souls, Elden Ring, Sekiro, Bloodborne and all of that. I don't think I would have ever branched out of League of Legends until I met him."

Arshiya Faraghat's gaming setup. She's popularly known as xArshyy in the streaming world
Arshiya Faraghat's gaming setup. She's popularly known as xArshyy in the streaming world

Arshiya's gaming journey, however, began when she was very young. "My father and my sister were into gaming; the first console we had was the Sega Genesis," Arshiya recalled, pointing to a newer version of Sega Genesis that they own. "We played a lot of games there, and my favourite game to date is Golden Axe. I am all about nostalgia. I really love the games that I used to play when I was younger, so that plays a big role in where we are today."

Yousif Tammam in a gaming session at his home in Abu Dhabi
Yousif Tammam in a gaming session at his home in Abu Dhabi

Meanwhile, Yousif, a fan of competitive shooters, held The Witcher 3 and God of War close to his gaming heart. "My father introduced me to the classic shooter games like Doom, Wolfenstein and others," he said. "And then he told me not to play video games because they are bad for you. That was a mistake: introducing me to the wonderful world of video games and then telling me that they're bad."

Their shared passion extended beyond the digital domain, permeating into their physical lives. Their home, meticulously crafted to cater to their gaming desires, became a haven where they lived out their childhood dreams. Yousif and Arshi, armed with PS5s and Xboxes, embraced a lifestyle that seamlessly merged reality and pixels.

"I would say our life is very unconventional compared to the normal people," said Arshiya. "We love our home space as most gamers do, and we made sure to build our home in a way where we want to stay and have fun here, which is why we both have our individual setups and consoles."

The two are living the dream they had as kids.

"And what's important is that we do game together," she continued. "But a lot of times we don't, and that's okay. There are some games he likes and I don't, and vice versa. But when we do play together, it is super fun with games like It Takes Two."

"That is a game every couple should play," Yousif chimed in, "it is just so much fun."

The couple had an entire gaming room to themselves; however, once Lyanna was born in 2022, they vacated the space for their daughter. Now, the two have their lavish setups in the bedroom and living room of their home.

Arshiya used to stream full time on Twitch but now only does it part time with some occasional sponsored streams. That means she's stocked up on the entire setup that includes gaming monitor, CPU, mic, controller, mouse and keypad, and even a chair.

Gaming, to them, wasn't just a hobby; it was a dynamic force that propelled them forward.

"We try to maintain a nice balance when we spend on gaming setups and tech," she said, with Yousif adding: "We upgraded our setups as we levelled up in our lives, just like gaming, you slowly level up."

1v1 to settle arguments?

Disagreements are inevitable in any couple's lives. How would you think a gamer couple's preferred method of resolution is?

"Valorant or Apex 1v1," Arshiya jumped in. She continued: "But the problem is that we play different competitive games, so it is never fair."

"And also the problem is that I am just better," Yousif chipped in.

"So the role of a good wife is letting her husband think he's better," Arshiya added.

Gaming industry in the region

As the Creative Lead and Project Manager at Empire Play, Yousif's role is to come up with idea and pitches for brands and marketing campaigns, both in-game and outside of game activations and events.

Yousif expressed optimism for the future of gaming in the UAE. With government support and an influx of gaming companies, the region was poised to become an esports hub, a prospect that has made the couple excited.

Yousif Tammam and Arshiya Faraghat with their daughter Lyanna
Yousif Tammam and Arshiya Faraghat with their daughter Lyanna

And a little bit jealous, Arshiya said, "Because students at school are competing in qualifiers in games. It is nice to see school kids being encouraged to play and compete, so we're a little bit jealous but happy at the same time."

That said, Arshiya and Yousif will definitely introduce gaming to their little one since it is an activity they both enjoy. The two said, "If she shows further interest in gaming such as becoming a professional e-sports athlete or streamer, we would support it and pass on our own experience."

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