"Games Don't Need Romance!"
Posted on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 11:45:07 Eastern
Hmm. Romantic subplots in games, eh? Well my opinion is a tad torn on this one. Check it:
It seems that not only are romances genre-specific, but format-exclusives as a result. When is the last time you saw a tale of sweet, sexual tension between a man and a woman on your PC, after all? Aside from the obvious strong, mutual emotions between Kane and Lynch on their newest adventure*, then PC gamers world-wide are a bit limited when it comes to this sort of area. The most recent time a game on your computarh went really into detail about creating a fascinating, platonic relationship between two people might just be as far back as the likes of Pyschonauts with Raz and Lilly; or even in Grim Fandango sporting the Manny-Meche slash. It appears that people on this system are just satisfied with blowing one another up in their gaming worlds, whilst creating strange 'fan' forms of art in their spare time to fulfil their romantic desires. No doubt I could quite easily turn this into a thesis about how if computer games included more romance then we wouldn't have as much gamer-focused, fan-made cartoon explication. I mean, how come it is that we have lots of Tomb Raider pornography, but no Mass Effect stuff? Especially when, logically, there's far more 'meat' to the latter's favour, making it easier for these so-called 'skilled' artists de perversion to create their own erotica.
Anyway, so we've established that PC gamers are mainly perverts but don't like to fap over videogame characters unless its been under the tablet of an amateur's pirated version of Photoshop and stuck up on Deviant Art first. They're more than happy to trundle around, shooting each other and laughing at pornographic sprays on Counterstrike than actually be involved in a true, deep subplot. Or at least it’s been mainly that way for a number of years. In a case exactly the opposite of this, console releases (well, the releases which initially are publicised as being on consoles-only), designers can't simply get enough of forming little affairs between characters. Ranging from the highly 'controversial' mannerisms of the protagonists in titles such as Mass Effect or Grand Theft Auto, to the more sublime and dramatic features of those as the Final Fantasy series, or even Metal Gear Solid. This only becomes a problem, however, when gameplay or overall quality of the release suffers because of this inclusion of a subplot. I guess you're all expecting me to bring up the likes of The Witcher due to the unclassy inclusion of the whole 'collecting women as cards' thing. Well yes, but I understand that whole part of the game is somewhat optional. The same can apply for Mass Effect; unless you're extraordinarily horny and haven't got access to the unrestricted Internet - it is entirely your own choice whether or not a (pointless!) romantic subplot develops. I am more in favour of this sort of type, because, after all, I can't think of a game where a romance is instrumental to the storyline (aside from Mario, maybe?). Certainly Tidus may be driven by love not to let Yuna die in FFX, or Octacon might be a little more against the Patriots since their rogue project killed off his source of semi-incestuous romance, but would these games fail to function if these arcs were not included? No? Then why do writers feel the need to include such an element if all it furthers is 'character development'. Sure, I appreciate these loving scenes where the players of the story express their passion for one another in an untimely fashion; but what about the rest of the gaming world whose opinion of such events amounts to no more than a mere sigh and rolling of eyes? Often it is only the artsy, nu-journalist types (like myself!) which fall for the pizazz of ten-hour cut scenes in which people proclaim their love for one another. Optional, it seems, may just be the way to go.
If top-of-their-league creations such as Ico and Half Life can have both powerful male-female roles within but without a necessary romantic element (if there is one then it is merely implied for humorous or even negative), then why can’t this be applied across the board? I’m not saying that we should all beat down on the next writer to come along and imply that we should all embrace the power of love, but what I am saying is that I don’t think the silent masses will care.
*May not be true.
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