While looks do play a part in my case, it’s all about depth, realistic/consistent personality or morales (depending which genre of game) and the little touches the writer adds.
Like, maybe the character has a way of talking that stands out more, like, expressions specific to that character or something? Or looks, or quirk that isnt too in your face? I’m not sure.
Personally, I like a slower paced “getting to know then flirt” rather than flirt the first/second time I meet em to not get locked out or ignored on the romantic front. The dialogue your character is offered to talk to them can also be a turnoff or a turnon so to speak.
I do not want to either blush like a maiden or be super flirty. Subtly is more endearing. Not really about ROs, but yeah, that can make me not enjoy the actual romance.
And if already know the said RO, like a best bud or something a bio about what we’ve been through is cool, cuz the reader doesnt know them. Or something like that. I usually ignore those ROs, cuz were often imposed a dynamic or somethin. So maybe be able to set the said dynamic so it doesn’t clash your MC? Just an idea.
Also, broody characters that arent just BroodyMcOnlyBroods. (or stray up tsundere clichés. Cryptic ones draw me in as well, or direct/aloof ones. But any strongly written ones are pretty neat regardless of personality. I like depth and consistency/realism. ( I’m repeating that a lot aren’t I?)
I have no problems with sexuality/romantically exclusive ones, its might suck, but it makes them feel more real if that makes sense. Oh, and genderlocked is good too.
But yeah, it mostly depend on the realism (taking into account the writing style of course) and/or quality of the interactions and/or dynamic and the author’s hardwork into the character. If the author doesnt like their characters enough to make them feel real and behaviorally consistent, I probably won’t like them either. ^^’
(edit) Oh,and characters that can take my MC being direct/aloof without being upset. Though that seems like the coding behind that might be annoying xd So maybe choosing internally/with body language/tone if you just rude or joking or serious, etc…? I dunnooo. Might be the different dynamic thing I like lots more than the personality?
(edit2) And I would say irl its more about a mix of body language, looks and personality (and openess/ability to put up with my sharp tongue and generally not get triggered at everything without self awareness),
while in games, its more about looks (not bearded (stubble works and other similar facial hair, but not mustaches or beards) or really muscular or fat (thick could work though I guess xd)) and dynamic with the MC, since cant always have a complitely custom MC to an extent. They mostly always a bit of a pre determined personality (not much, but you know what I mean).
As for female /male difference, well I usually do not romance chicks in any game, but I prefer woman that more variety than either motherly/shy or badass/strong, which is kinda too bland for me to even consider. Though buf chicks are pretty cool when they have nuance.
But I did romance one [sort of spoiler ahead] from the Lawless ones (swift), only one I felt compelled to romance so far.
And I guess NB ones it really depends if they are preachy or too in your face about it. Like, know its a place of posivity, but I want my character to have more nuance about that fact. And trans, well, no issues unless preachy af about it. (no offense meant btw, just how I talk)
For reference, the ones that caught my interest (and stood out more) in some games.
-Haze from Tally Ho
-Shader Ausley from Dragon Racer
-Manson from Wayhaven (Though I always ignore the flirting xd)
-Rheylo from Shadow Society
-Jonny (Jonathan) from uh… a WIP I forgot the name of rn… He’s a movie buff though
Tanno from Narci… something Necromancer
-Herald from Fallen Hero 2. I think?
-Solas from Dragon Age Inquisition I mean, damn, I dont like playing a chick, but I cant not romance him
-Fenris from Dragon Age 2