So! Romance in video games! It ranges from the sweet to the more.. well, less sweet..
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought maybe I could offer my two cents on romance in video games and what they might offer to a game.
We’ll start with my favourite romance of all time..
I absolutely adore the romance the PC has with Jaheira in BG2. I might be biased from my reckoning that Baldur’s Gate 2 is possibly one of the best RPGs ever made, but even so I cannot get over my love for Jaheira. Her romance born out of a natural sense of connection after travelling with someone for so long, and the heartache that both Jaheira and the PC feel across the course of the games. She has her own (very strong) opinions and she is not afraid to let you know about them, and the romance feels very real to the extent that certain choices in dialogue might ultimately separate the two of you or just lead Jaheira to not wanting to pursue a relationship with you at all. Alongside the fact that the relationship is not for R rated thrill seeking as the most you get is a very saucy, low quality video clip of a tent in the darkness (shocking, I know!) the relationships your character can form in Baldur’s Gate really mean that romance is something that adds to the story and does not feel shoehorned in to satisfy the needs of a gaggle of horny people (I mean, my heart nearly broke when I thought Bodhi had killed Jaheira in the later acts of the game!).
Where there is good, there must be bad (to some extent). For this I won’t choose any particular games, but the concept of player-sexual is something that really grinds my gears.
I’m all for the idea that players should be given a wild amount of creativity and freedom in video games but, specifically for RPGs, I feel that to make a romance that feels real and authentic there is going to be some restrictions on who and what can access a romantic relationship with certain characters. For example, in Dragon Age 2 the character of Fenris has spent his entire life being abused by a mage and treated as a playground for magical experimentation – why in heck can he end up in a relationship with a mage? Perhaps there is a little more explanation in the game that I might have feverishly missed (I mean c’mon, the dude is gorgeous I spent a lot of the time looking at him rather than listening to him) but I still found it odd that Fenris stuck by my side for the majority of the game whilst I assisted the mages whilst he stood at the side lines hissing at every opportunity he was allowed.
Perhaps I’m being a little too critical of player sexual romance in video games, but to me it just feels forced and I can’t help but find it uncomfortable in a video game to see a character completely enamoured with your character regardless who it is.
If you disagree with me leave me a comment to change my mind and let me know of any games with really good romances in them for me to check out on my lonesome tomorrow with my pizza and ice-cream (yay valentines day)!