I have read this a couple of times and I’m still not sure if I’m expressing myself correctly, but anyway, here I go.
Romance… it seems like one of the most valued things in Choice of Games, almost every game has a romantic subplot. However I wanted to discuss how love and relationships are usually portrayed.
I think that most of the time love is portrayed in a really romanticized way, and why shouldn’t it? That’s why it’s called romance. But here’s the thing, in real life, romance isn’t that ideal, it’s usually a mess, we tend to have high standards for love and romantic relationships that usually don’t match reality, and part of the reason might be because of the way that relationships are portrayed in media.
And I think that most players don’t feel too attracted to the idea of exploring a more complex - and maybe more realistic - views of love. I get it, a lot of us want escapism, I do to, and love in a game is like a fantasy you can get involved with. We need things like that, I’m not asking for get rid of them.
However I think that exploring problems in a romantic path might allow experiencing a type of romance that, although it’s less idealized, might be also more rewarding. Most of the games seem to “punish” the player if they get in an argument with they love interest by losing relationships points in the stats, and I think there are few chances of reconciliation after a break up, which I think is kind of limiting, because most players would want to avoid this kind of scenarios. Also, because of the high standards we have about love, we might consider that things like arguing are a sign that “love is dead”, which I also doubt.
What about trying to help a partner to a serious issue? The romantic idea proposes that love is about acceptance, but I also think that it’s about becoming better people; maybe through a romantic path you can help someone overcome character flaws. I remember that some time ago I played a visual novel in which the love interest was suffering from a depression and the main character and the love interest got into some serious stuff, the love in that visual novel wasn’t a fun sexy thing, but I also found the game very interesting and engaging.
There is also the possibility of feeling things like betrayal… but this also might lead to stories about forgiveness…
What I want to ask you, fellow players and authors, is how would you feel about playing games with less “romantic” romances? How do you think that it can be done right? How do you feel about the possibility of getting in arguments with a RO without ruining the love experience? And what do you think about portraying such things like cheating, break ups, disagreements, toxic relationships… all that not so fun love stuff?