How Desireable are Relationships and Romance Options: Are They Considered Mandatory Crunch or Appreciable Fluff?


I’ve been wandering around the Forums for inspiration, mostly what other peoples stories do or don’t have. To say that relationships pop up a lot would be an understatement, it would seem that they are in all the stories I’ve perused, which would suggest that they are a mandatory (or at least expected) feature for any decent story.

While I could easily incorporate this into stories I’ve already written, I can’t help but wonder just how much stock people expect from it. Most of what I’ve written is almost exclusively plot driven, rather than character driven. Focusing more on large groups or small parties rather than a singular main character.

Then there is romance which brings it’s own complications and controversial implications.

So do you consider Relationships to be the crunch of the story or added fluff that may or may not be appreciable?

I understand that some stories are nothing without their relationships, making them a requirement rather than a feature, this thread isn’t about those stories.

How important is romance to you?

I think if the reader likes someone of a gender/personality of their preference, then it might follow naturally that they would want to be more than friends. But it’s not mandatory, it’s just that many people desire/have come to expect it.

I personally hate any kind of romance in movies unless it’s explicitely a romantic movie, but in any form of interactive media I enjoy it, if it makes sense within the genre. Probably because it’s in a sense ‘me’, (or at the very least an avatar with some of my values) that is involved, as opposed to just looking in from the outside.


Personally I don’t care if a character can be romanced as long as I can reasonably interact with them. Whether it be romantic or friendship I just want to interact with them. To be honest unless I’ve found the character fun to interact with I usually won’t bother with the romance path. Not fun as in well written, but fun as in I find them an enjoyable person.

It’s not something which Choice of Games deems mandatory for the Hosted Games section. Most people here would enjoy having it, but no one really finds it mandatory.


Whether an incidental romance feels like fluff or not depends on the quality of the writing. If the character feels real, then whether or not the story is about your romance with them, the romance will probably be fun and add something substantial to the story.

But if the characters are just plot cogs, it won’t add much (to my enjoyment, anyway) to be able to “romance” them.


Depends on whether or not your story is character driven, I suppose. If your story mainly features complex, interesting characters, people will naturally want to interact with them. It certainly isn’t mandatory to have romance options and relationship values.


I think it depends.

The reason I love them is that they’re very character focused. You said most of what you’ve written is exclusively plot-driven, and I think if that’s your strong point, that should be your focus. I’m addicted personally to lots of character interaction and drama, so adding romance, while fluffy, is highly desirable.

For plot-driven stories? I think it depends on how the romance affects the plot. It can be fluff, but it can also be as you put it the crunch if a romantic affair can change circumstances. I can’t recall many choiceof games that have incorporated that however. Choice of Romance, for example, had very plot-driven romances as they were tied to the politics of the game. Something like that in a game that isn’t primarily using romance as a mechanic could be interesting.

However, in a blanket statement, I don’t think it’s truly mandatory to any game. It’s just quite fun if done correctly.


A good interactive story will satiate one or more desire of the player. In Choice of the Dragon the reader is made to feel powerful vicariously through a dragon, for example. In many of these stories the player gains power throughout, accomplishing acts of heroism or great evil.

Another desire that can never be understated is the desire to be desired. Particularly for our demographic of young people, relationships are huge. People love being loved, and they crave being craved. Playing vicariously through a character who is loved and valued highly makes us feel the same way. Endorphins kick off, and the text on your screen can send your heart fluttering. That’s how powerful romance writing is.

The others bring up great advice on when and how elements of romance should be used. My advice is that if writing relationships isn’t strongest suit, find other desires to satisfy instead.


I wouldn’t say mandatory, there are great choice games without option to romance.
But i myself like very much to read romance stories, not only in games, so for me it is always an advantage if a game has a good romance in it.
As for relationships overall i think it is very important in choice games, There are always different kinds of relationships between people in life, so well described relationships, either it is family, freindship, or hate, make the characters more real.


Play to your strengths. One of my favorite titles is Sabres of Infinity; another is the WiP Guenevere.

If you’re not great at sketching characters or the story doesn’t need it, please skip romance entirely. Some games I feel like I’m yelling “DO NOT WANT” at the clunky “are you SURE you don’t want to end up with this character?” moments.


Romance is a very strong bonus to a game if handled well. However, I have something of a caution for when writing them: never push a love interest. By that, I mean that you should never write in such a way as to tell the reader to romance someone. Psy High tells you outright that your character is crushing madly on Tyler-Taylor (thankfully, you have an option to not follow through), and Heroes Rise likewise tells you that Black Magic looks just like insert crush here (and it may ignore your decision not to screw him/her at one point and railroad you into sex, depending entirely on your previous decisions). This is a pitfall best avoided.

With that caveat (and the caveat that romanceable characters should stand on their own as characters before romance even becomes an issue), I’d definitely consider romance to be highly beneficial fluff, but not necessary.


I believe romace is not mandatory, but highy appreciable.

Choice of games should offer many opportunies for the player so that they could play thorugh the story in the way they like it.

If a story covers a sizeable portion of MC’s life and s/he meets charactes whom the players believe to be romanceable, there should be the opportunity to pursue the relationship with them or conciously decide not to do so.

If a game doesn’t feature romance, it should provide a good and obvious or explained reason why it is not available.


I wouldn’t romance in games is mandatory because it sure isn’t, though truthfully I’m more likely to play a choice game if there is romance. Mostly because I appreciate the queer representation choice games bring to the table. It’s refreshing and means a lot.


I plan to have a character who is just plain not into you in my game, this is to make a point. If you try to pursue a romance they tell you to back the hell off and if you don’t you get in serious trouble. The point I want to make with this is that even in games, these sort of things can happen. Because it’s a game doesn’t mean you can have whoever you want. Etc.

Edit: Sorry if that isn’t very coherent, but I don’t know how to say it better.


@Crotale My post is probably not very coherent too, I’m not sure you understood me correctly. I don’t think that the players should be able to have whoever they want, but that they should have the chance to try those things they consider resonalble.

Anyway, I refered to having/not having ROs in a game at all, not about having the choice to romance all notable characters in a game. In fact, I think for most games it’s very good to have characters who are unromnanceable, because they don’t like the MC, becuse their gender and sexuality don’t match, because they’re already loving/romancing someone else, because they made a vow of chastity or for any other reason. It gives them more own personality.

Your character seems to be a particulary interesting one. From you description, I assume that it will be possible to ignore the warning and try to romance this characters, actually getting the MC into this serious trouble.