Romance in video games -- is the health bar half full or half empty?
One thing that I ask myself periodically as a gamer is, "Are video games just wish fulfillment?" When I play Fallout 3, are my adventures through the wastes a valuable collaborative story told in equal parts by me, Bethesda and Liam Neeson (playing the part of my futuristic dad)? Or is it just electronic crack for my id, a treasure-hunting, raider-killing romp through all my basic post-apocalyptic desires?
I would like to believe the former. Certainly the idea of an epic novel, the arc of which is created in part by the author and in part by the reader, is in some senses realized by modern video games. And what an idea! Books with all the wit and lushness of their author's words, but unfolding in ways that most suit the reader's sensibilities. Want to experience the terrifying twists and turns of Yossarian's combat missions in Catch-22, deciding exactly how much cowardice our embattled hero displays? Sure! Wish you got to control exactly how haughty the quips are in Pride and Prejudice? It can be arranged!
But one thing that prevents video games from ascending to this level of artistic consideration is their tendency to err on the side of wish fulfillment. Sometimes instead of depth and nuance a player is given a rocket launcher. This is not always a bad thing (let it never be said that I am anti-rocket launcher), but it is perhaps limiting.
Perhaps the biggest example of this is romance in video games.More >>