Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Why No Couples in Games?

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 23 Aug 2011 12:00
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The point is, none of this is romance. There are the games that depict the commencement of a relationship, but this is rarely shown as anything other than an appropriate "reward" for the hero's actions, which is just objectifying the love interest again. Rarely is time given to the compatibility of feelings between the two or to explore the feasibility of a partnership in the long term. Hunted: The Demon's Forge featured two lead characters, a man and a woman, who were business partners rather than lovers, because the man was brooding over his dead family (of course he fucking was) and the lady had to appear free-spirited and attainable to make the nerds wet. But just hypothetically, wouldn't it have added a lot to the characters to make them a married couple? It would've made their permanent bond and mutual protectiveness a little better explained and their frequent catty remarks and put-downs to each other would've come across as rather sweet. But no. Apparently all anyone wants to see is a relationship thoughtlessly starting or violently ending.

Perhaps this is why I enjoyed my romance with Anders in Dragon Age 2 so much: it depicted a loving couple, neither of whom considered the other to be a prize to be won or a shackle to tie them to commitment, for some time after the initial bumming. Both of them went out together during the day and kicked as much arse as was required, then they could go home in the evening and one of them could make a nice risotto and they'd eat it around whatever the local equivalent of a TV was.

But now I come to think about it, videogaming's fear of relationships doesn't just apply to protagonists. I'm thinking back and I can recall very few NPCs, villains or other major, effectual character to the plot who is in a relationship with another. It's always unrelated colleagues or siblings, like that twin sister boss fight in Ocarina of Time. The only exception I can think of is how Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 2 was implied to be banging Fortune, but only because Vamp was implied to be banging absolutely fucking everyone, including you as you read this (try to hold still). Is this fear of emotional attachment related to the imagined fear of emotional attachment that the (increasingly less) predominantly male user base of video games possesses? Because I want it on record that we don't. Possess it, I mean. Not in my case, at least. And I would certainly not be completely turned off if it was revealed that one of the catsuit-wearing Nazi female assassins from Wolfenstein had a live-in boyfriend back home, dutifully making her packed lunches in the morning and passive-aggressively resenting her desire for a career.

Fuck, I need to get laid.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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