Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Not A Bad Romance

Man...the news is going nuts about Wal-Mart buying and selling used games. The first 4 pages on Google News were filled with it. Good thing GDC (Game Developers Conference) is also happening this week and Gamasutra has jumped in on bringing some of the panels to the web. For those who don't know GDC is a chance for developers and the gaming media to come together and discuss the trends, hits and misses, and issues within the video game community. From sex and sexuality to the "inclusive" vs exclusive crowds, GDC is never short on hot-button topics.

Chris Dahlen of Mad*Pow focused on the simple 1-1 approach on video game romances, in a sliding scale format. Hell, it's really a point system. 1 is when you meet the character and 500 is when you "romance" them into a relationship. Persona is guilty of this, but then again, so is every single dating simulator available. There is no complication to the set-up. You meet the character and follow the pre-set path to try and get him or her to like you through conversations, giving gifts, and selecting activities that, that character likes. It doesn't matter if YOU don't like to roller-blade. That digital girl does, and if you want to win this simulator and get points, you better go roller-blading.

Do instead, Dahlen proposed a 2-integer idea when approaching romance by using rivalry and respect to transform the relationship into something real. Again, a seemingly simple concept, but it's rarely seen in video games. You and said potential romance-able character start out as rivals competing for the same thing. You may make decisions that your rival despises, but over time, those choices can earn their respect when s/he sees the full effect of the outcome. From there, mutual desire can blossom and love can be reciprocated. Is it an realistic portrayal of romance? Of course not, but it's a lot better then roller-blading for points.

You can read the full synopsis of the panel on Gamasutra. I can't wait to see the GDC wrap-ups this year.

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