“My mom was a bartender, so I grew up playing video games and pinball at the bar,” says the 29-year-old Maggie Q, as we walk along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Tomorrow, the eye-melting model-turned-actress—who played edgy, sexy bad girls in Live Free or Die Hard, Mission: Impossible III, and Balls of Fury—will be jetting off to the Gobi Desert to shoot a Chinese period film. But today she’s hell-bent on rocking the arcade classic Ms. Pac-Man at Barney’s Beanery, a local watering hole. “They also have air hockey, shooting games, and racing games,” she says cheerfully. “And it’s dank and it smells!”
While her personal gaming preferences are old school, Q’s newest venture is anything but: She plays the main character in Electronic Arts’s Need for Speed Undercover, the seminal racing game’s 12th iteration, which is set for release on November 18. Not only does Q grace the cover, but she also stars in its live-action sequences. “It’s like a blockbuster cut into a video game,” she says. “Never before has the story and game play been so intricately intertwined.”
“What’s the plotline?” I ask.
“You’ll have to play! And expect to be completely frustrated!”
As much as Q loves games, there’s one area of her life that’s devoid of them: her relationships. “I can be very direct,” she says. “I have an ex who constantly e-mails,” she says. “The last time we had dinner together, he said, ‘Hey Mags, when will I see you again?’ And I said, you’ll see me when you don’t have your BlackBerry with you.”
Of course, you wouldn’t make that mistake, right? If you said you’d never check e-mail on a date, Maggie Q doesn’t believe you. In many of her relationships, the guy’s gadgets have become a third wheel. So if you want to lure, land, and keep a woman like her, you’d best obey her six new rules of technology and dating.
Rule 1: Turn It Off to Turn Her On
Sadly for Q, Barney’s is closed. So we settle into a booth at a restaurant up the street. As soon as Q sits down, she pulls out her phone and shuts it off. Then she does the same with her BlackBerry. I now have her undivided attention, and it feels . . . weird. I ask her if she did it for my benefit—a little show for the reporter across the table, especially in light of the story she’d just related about her ex. Her answer is an emphatic no. “When I eat dinner, I eat dinner,” she says. “When I work, I work. No one wants to share a meal with someone who’s e-mailing the whole time.”
Rule 2: Master Your Game . . .
“Having complete mastery of a video game, especially a fighting game, would definitely be a turn-on for me,” says Q. But the same principle applies to lots of other things. “If a man is good at something he loves, whether it’s photography or martial arts, it’s sexy. Whatever you do, do it well, and women will find you attractive.”
Rule 3: . . . And Include Her, Too
Gaming isn’t just for guys. Q says there’s a romantic side to video games, too. Like most people her age, she grew up with an Atari—”I played Combat and Space Invaders and Centipede, every game, really”—and remembers those times fondly. For that reason, she says, going to an arcade that has a bunch of vintage games can make a great first date. When in doubt, try a racing game, she adds. “They’re the most exciting games. And women love them because they’re simple.”
Rule 4: Earpieces Aren’t Earrings
“Bluetooth headsets are not sexy,” says Q. “If you want to use one when you’re talking, that’s great. But when you’re done, please take it off and put it back in your pocket.”
Rule 5: Take Dirty Pictures, But Don’t Keep Them
“Technology has made the world a scandalous place,” says Q. She understands how snapping revealing pictures can spice up a relationship, but men who hoard them make women suspicious. “For some guys, there’s a keepsake value. They become collectors. But this doesn’t deepen a relationship. It just feeds their egos.”
Rule 6: Know The Proper Way to E-Communicate
Need directions to a restaurant? Yeah, go ahead and e-mail her. Want to create a flirty undercurrent for your rendezvous later that night? Sure, send her an “I can’t wait to see you” text. But remember: “It’s inappropriate to communicate about relationship issues using text or e-mail,” says Q. If you really want to win her heart, send her a handwritten letter, she says. “It’s a huge turn-on.”