A Little Byte of Romance

In the last few months, I played through Dragon Age: Origins and its expansion Awakening and Mass Effect (all BioWare’s works) and started playing The Witcher, which was developed by Polish CDProjekt. Currently I’m following up with Mass Effect 2. All good games, no doubt there. But I’m not going to discuss the games’ quality per se… if you allow the pun, it will rather be "per sex". Be warned though, some character development spoilers will follow, but no major plot spoilers.

DA:O and the Witcher are considered "adult", while ME has a rating of 12, and ME2 of 15. The reasons for these ratings are the typical cursing (aka "strong language" haha), violence, blood and of course… naked skin!!! Very scary, if you’re American! ^_^

DA:O and both Mass Effect games allow you to pick your avatar’s gender, and be straight or gay. Need I even repeat that The Witcher was developed in Poland, while BioWare is Canadian? Hm. Figures. 😉 Granted, I play for the plot and gameplay etc., but I am a fan of well-written game romance, because it adds character depth.

The eponymous, and male by default, Witcher Geralt sometimes can decide between a traditional roleyplaying reward such as cash, or a night with the damsel in distress he just rescued. The resulting cutscenes are, well, foggy… and you collect a pin-up card to remind you of your conquests (some of that artwork is rather gross in my humble opinion – and no, I wouldn’t judge bloodied and disfigured male pin-ups differently). His dialogue choices on the way there are mostly either "not interested" or sexist, which led to me playing a rather ascetic Witcher. (I’m not far into the plot, so this is only a tentative opinion, no final judgement. It seems there is a more long-term love interest in store for Geralt, so I’ll see how "he will act".)

In DA:O, your avatar can pursue romances with certain party members, though you have to play much nicer to get anywhere. When you succeed, you are treated to totally non-foggy cutscenes with both of you wearing the infamous, but obviously popular with game devs, "grandma undies". (I think that wonderful quote is from Bethesda’s Morrowind forum back in the day, but I am uncertain. In any case, there was a Morrowind nudity mod mode [sic!] called "pubescent boy mode", which showed women naked and men in their underwear… which I found hilarious, but I digress). Similar to DA:O, you have to be nice to your romantic interest in ME, yet still can tease them, which led to a few superb dialogs. (If you want an example and don’t mind spoilers, look up "Alistair’s rose" in youtube; I haven’t yet tried to find some of ME’s wittiest Shepard – Kaidan dialogs but I bet they’re up there to). Another good example for game romances to mention would be, again of BioWare’s doing, Knights of the Old Republic (I played only Part 1, since 2 doesn’t run on my computer for some #@$&%! reason).

Unlike past times, when even BioWare treated us girlgamers to the ever boring paladin-type lovers (Anomen in BG2, Casavir in NWN2) and nobody would give us a male Viconia (a bitchy dark elf in BG2, who you eventually could convince to become good – if you were male and romanced her, that is) it seems we’re starting to be of concern to developers (not Polish ones, sadly – a female Witcher could make for a kickass heroine).

But I really wonder if there is a even just one woman writing romance dialogs for them!? I am betting money on a storybook male nerd making guesses about what GIRLS want, while forgetting that it’s mostly NERD GIRLS who will play their games. I’m exaggerating? Perhaps… prove me wrong next time, all you devs out there!  😉

As always, looking forward to comments from you! Also, did I miss any major RPG that has romances?