Candid Gamer: The Issa-ExciVous Campus Gaming Love Story

07:26 PM February 14, 2023

Finding the one, especially for us gamers (because we usually just play the day and night away), might be difficult for some people, but not these lovebirds. Meet Issa-Gene “Pockyfries” Medel and John Matthew “ExciVous” Bautista, two gamers that fell in love at the height of their respective campus gaming careers and became the very definition of a gamer couple.

One is an aspiring shoutcaster, while the other is an esports and mental health advocate. Both were student leaders in their respective campus gaming student organizations at Far Eastern University. From becoming full-fledged gamers as kids to fate crossing their paths as if it was a video game plot, here is their story.

Becoming Gamers

ExciVous and Issa at ESGS last year. | Via ExciVous

ExciVous and Issa got into gaming relatively early as they were both coincidentally influenced by their respective family relatives, specifically their titos.


“I was just a kid observing my tito,” ExciVous recalled as he watched his own uncle play the real-time strategy video game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2.


“That is when I started to love video games. From [that time] until now, I’ve still been playing RTS games, city-builders, and civilization games,” he revealed further.

From there, he would get into other video games as his dad would eventually give him his own Game Boy Advance SP and Nintendo DS Lite to play with. Eventually, he would return to personal computers as he preferred them more than handheld consoles.

Meanwhile, Issa started at the very young age of four years old as a gamer. And just like her boyfriend, she was influenced by an uncle of hers.

Yung tito ko kasi parang nerdy-nerdy siya. Mahilig siya sa anime and tsaka sa games [My uncle was the nerdy type. He liked anime and video games],” Issa shared.

Issa then confessed that her first gaming experience was with a console, playing games such as Digimon and Mario Kart. That first time had a profound impact on her as she then became quite fascinated not just by video games but by Japanese culture as well.

Doon siya nagstart na nahilig ako sa 2D [games]. Nahilig ako sa ganong art style. Nafascinate ako sa Japanese culture [That’s when I started my penchant for 2D games. My fondness for the same art style. Fascinated by the Japanese Culture],” Issa admitted.

Issa then continued her story about growing up and playing with her older brother in PlayStation rental shops akin to the common pisonet cafes most children flock to these days and then venturing into the world of PC games with Dota. Then, between 2009-2010, Issa was introduced to first-person shooters like Crossfire and MMORPGs like Cabal and Ragnarok.

Parang may taboo doon kase babae ako [It’s as if there’s a taboo there because I was a girl],” Issa recalled the days when she would hide beyond IGNs that sounded boyish to avoid criticisms she oftentimes received just because she was a little girl playing with the boys.

Nowadays, the couple plays games together such as Genshin Impact and MOBAs like League of Legends, with Issa preferring League of Legends over Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and ExciVous dabbling with other competitive titles like VALORANT.

Gamers Cross Paths

Besides being gamers, ExciVous and Issa were both student leaders in their respective university campuses: Issa is a co-founder and former president of Tams FX from FEU-Manila, and ExciVous is an adviser, co-founder, and former president of Apex Tamaraws in FEU-Alabang. Both of their organizations competed in national-level competitions such as in AcadArena’s numerous collegiate tournaments.

ExciVous started as a shoutcaster and was part of the pioneers of his campus’ esports initiative. This eventually led to the formation of Apex Tamaraws in FEU-Alabang and where he served as its president.

Meanwhile, Issa described her stint in campus esports as a “happy accident” as she was merely approached by someone during her time as the Director for Sports and Talents in their central student government body. According to her, one of her soon-to-be colleagues approached her about the scholarships AcadArena was offering to students and coincidentally chanced upon another group of students looking for players. After that, they formed Tamaraws FX, which was eventually renamed Tams FX due to a Toyota car that bore the same name.

From there, it was only a matter of time before ExciVous and Issa crossed paths as both were obviously in the same sphere: handling an esports organization in FEU.

Issa was nominated for the Student Leader of the Year award during AcadArena’s 2021 Awards.| Screenshot via AcadArena

ExciVous and Issa’s first interaction with each other happened back on February 2021. Tams FX was gunning for multiple AcadArena awards at the time which led to Issa sliding into ExciVous’s inbox, messaging him to vote her for the Student Leader of the Year award as she was a finalist. However, their next succeeding interactions only came through AcadArena’s group chat for student leaders, only talking with each other when the group chat was full of chatter. It wasn’t until a massive collaboration between FEU organizations in Alabang, Manila, and the Institute of Technology campuses aligned the stars for the future couple.

Nagkaroon kami ng matagal na conversation during April 2021 kasi nagre-ready ako for partnerships in FEU All Stars, yung event ko sa TFX noong president pa ako [We only had a lengthy conversation during April 2021 as I was prepping for partnerships for the FEU Allstars, one of my events at TFX back when I was the president],” Issa revealed.

She then admitted that there was no flirtation nor intimacy right at the start as they were acting professionally, citing “pure work” as her only intention.

Eventually, they did become a romantic couple whilst their respective collegiate gaming careers were blossoming, with their anniversary date having quite an unconventional backstory as Issa simply dreamt of the date and asked ExciVous if that could be their anniversary date instead of the day they actually considered themselves to be in an official relationship.

“TLDR: we talked, we partnered [for an event between our organizations], and now we’re partners for life,” ExciVous succinctly recapped and reaffirmed their story.

How To Bebe Time Properly To Make It Work

When asked if their respective collegiate careers in campus esports affected their relationship, they chuckled and admitted that it did.

“As both student leaders… we had clashing ideas,” ExciVous revealed as the two would sometimes bicker about how to effectively run an organization.

He then recalled how their conversations went from having a romantic tone and then suddenly shifting to a discourse about their organizations, with ExciVous terrified and intimidated by the seriousness the topics bring out of Issa.

“Our relationship wouldn’t grow if [we] always have the same type of ideas and opinions,” ExciVous stated and pointed out how opposing mentalities would lead to a deeper understanding. “May sense of individuality parin kayo. No need na maging parehas kayo ng opinion most of the time [There’s still a sense of individuality. There’s no need to have the same opinions most of the time].”

Another problem they faced as a couple was time management, especially considering they had to handle their relationship, academic requirements, and student leader duties all at the same time.

“Bebe time while doing school work,” ExciVous blurted out as he recounted the times both of them worked through their own workload, usually allocating a set amount of time to do their tasks.

However, Issa then recalled how ExciVous would oftentimes sulk when she had to focus on multitasking considering their schedules rarely synced. Fortunately, they were able to figure it out and were able to persevere through thick and thin.

Meanwhile, for the benefit of those looking into getting a “gamer jowa“, Issa and ExciVous had two different pieces of advice, but both revolved around preferences.

Wag mo pagbawalan, sabayan mo [don’t restrict them, play with them],” Issa casually dropped. She said playing with your significant partner would lead to a deeper understanding of their minor preferences which would lead to the further discovery of their partner’s quirks. She also jokingly pointed out you can’t stop someone from doing something, in this case playing video games, if they were already doing it for a long time prior to the relationship.

With that in mind, she suggested playing co-op games as it would be a perfect activity for couples. Alternatively, she also suggested date nights could also involve one person simply watching their partner play a game, with giving commentary or starting a banter on what’s happening a great spice to heat it up.

Meanwhile, ExciVous shared how people should just enjoy and respect each other’s preferences. He further supported his advice by citing how he would sometimes play what Issa wants and vice versa.

Issa and ExciVous found love while being campus leaders. Maybe you can as well. | Via ExciVous

With a lot of gamer couples not lasting forever, the Issa-ExciVous campus gaming love story stands as a beacon of inspiration, proving love can be found with a gamer.

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TAGS: Candid Gamer, Valentine's Day
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