6 Things Games Get Wrong About Love

“Press X To Don’t Kiss” may be missing some of the nuance of real relationships

press x to don't kiss

Ah, Valentine’s Day. It’s a day for appreciating those closest to you. A day for reminding your favorite person or favorite people just how much they mean to you. But mostly, it’s a day for cynical people on Twitter to be snarky about Valentine’s Day. Sure, the crass commercialism of the holiday pushes a version of love that’s unrealistic and – to many people – simply undesirable, but you know what else does that? Videogames.

That’s right. While every other gaming website is doing articles about gaming’s best romances today (which is ridiculous, because the best romance in gaming is and always will be Guybrush and Elaine MArley-Threepwood), we at Hey Poor Player are taking a different approach. Because love is worth celebrating. Love is important. And the thing about love is…

1. Love Isn’t Goal-Oriented

To make the most banal and obvious statement any games critic could possibly make: videogames are games. And games are all about pursuing an objective. This means that romance in games usually also involves pursuing an objective, which just isn’t how real love works. Relationships often have objectives – emotional intimacy, making sure your partner always feels loved and supported, maybe even something like planning a date or a special evening – but unless you’re a psychopath, you probably want more from your partner than a single sex scene.

(Not to say that casual sex between consenting adults is wrong, mind you, but this article is specifically about how long-term romantic relationships are handled in videogames.)

Speaking of sex, how come that’s almost always the goal of gaming relationships? When I was in middle school, the possibility of pursuing a Mass Effect relationship for the chance to see some sideboob had a sort of transgressive excitement about it, but I’m no longer impressed by the “maturity” of a game that has nothing to offer but titillation. And not even good titillation at that – if you’re gonna have sex be the be-all end-all of in-game relationships, at least commit to the bit in the way that something like Hunie Pop does. At least that game’s not pretending that its sex scenes are evidence of some incredibly well-written relationship.

And relationships in games being focused solely around getting sex are especially creepy considering that…

I. Coleman
I Coleman believes that videogames are the most important, most fascinating, and most potentially world-changing entertainment medium today. When not saying dorky, embarrassing crap like that, I is a game designer, science fiction author, and former reviews editor for the now-defunct GamerSyndrome.com with years of experience writing for and about games.

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