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Make Love Not War? Romance As a Video Game Genre? Yay or Nay

petrepanpetrepan Registered User new member
Recently an article went up on InsertQuarterly suggesting that romance should be its own video game genre, and only a few indie games have actually "gotten it right." Whoa, so here's the start:

"The world could use a few more romance video games.

Oh heavens, the controversy. Let’s trust this publication’s readership is too intelligent to moan, 'Oh gawsh, what a girl thing to say,' but maybe the sexists have a legitimate counter-argument here. Romance readership? Women. Romance viewership? Women. With pizza-covered adolescent white-male stereotypes running rampant through video game culture, do companies have any financial room to aim towards a probably female gamership?

A million times yes. Women make up 47 percent of all gamers, according to a 2012 study by the Entertainment Software Association. Even better, women over 18 make up 30 percent of the community while only 18 percent of gamers are boys under 17. The stereotype is so broken it’s not even money.

With that out of the way, here’s a bigger hurdle: what the heckz0rz is a romance video game, and why would any gamer, irrespective of gender, care about playing it?

A romance game contains a storyline, theme, and characters whose ultimate fulfillment lies in a romantic relationship. Most popular adventure games include an element of romance, like Mario’s rescue of the princess or the romantic choices the player makes in Mass Effect 3. Those aren’t romance games any more than Star Wars is a romance series: while Mario may have a romantic goal at heart, the storyline isn’t his progressively deepening relationship with Peach..."

(Read more at http://bit.ly/XGGatp) So...what do people think???

Posts

  • Dr. FlamingoDr. Flamingo 49 Gilded Disc Perceives the Sun Registered User regular
    Sooo..... Dating sims?

    EtiowsaTychoCelchuuu
  • Pixelated PixiePixelated Pixie They/Them Registered User regular
    I'm not clear how this is different from existing dating sims, but I can say I'd not immediately turn away from a romance-themed game/genre. I'd apply the same criteria I apply to any video game: If it's fun, I'll play it. If it's not, I won't.

    Also, let me just say that I adore the rockets with heart-shaped tips in every way. ;)

    ~~ Pixie on Steam ~~
    ironzerg wrote: »
    Chipmunks are like nature's nipple clamps, I guess?
  • Fleur de AlysFleur de Alys Biohacker Registered User regular
    Plot focus and genre aren't the same thing. I have no problems with games that use romance as a central (or even the central) plot point, assuming it's well written (a required assumption for enjoyment of any sort of plot point).

    Game genres are determined by gameplay mechanics, however. If you want "romance" as a genre, then the mechanics must focus on simulating or emulating romancing. Which, so far, is basically "dating sims" (which themselves are little more than adventure games with lots of dialogue branches and multiple endings).

    I'd love to play a game that figured out how to "mechanize" romance with entertaining game systems, but it seems like a tough challenge. I was pretty impressed with how Princess Maker pulled off child-raising, so maybe there's an avenue to be invented.

    Triptycho: A card-and-dice tabletop indie RPG currently in development and playtesting
  • NerdtendoNerdtendo Registered User regular
    Romance as a genre? Absolutely. It would be a hell of a risk, but it would also provide a completely new area for developers to explore.

    I think one of the big directions that game development should look to focus on is character expression. Even today, interaction between characters within games can feel very stiff and unnatural. The Mass Effect series assigned quite a bit of importance to the relationships between the player and NPC's, and it's probably the best example I could think of... but the canned animations detracted quite a bit from the experience.

    The Source engine showed us that facial expressions and lip syncing can be done very well through code. I'd love to see developers try to do the same thing with body language.

    IHZR47b.png
  • Fleur de AlysFleur de Alys Biohacker Registered User regular
    FFXIII, whatever else some may think about it, nailed character expression, all the way down to subtle eye movements. It's terribly expensive, though.

    Triptycho: A card-and-dice tabletop indie RPG currently in development and playtesting
    Turkey
  • VicVic Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Put me in the camp of people wondering why this is not a thing yet. If one wanted to argue that video games are still an immature media one would have to look no further than at the way it handles romance and sexuality. People have have a huge range of reactions to the subject, some insisting that any romance or intimacy in a game is "nerd bait" and that that enjoying romantic content in a game is innately pathetic, somehow.

    It all seems very odd to me, as if someone implied that playing Battlefield is just for pasty nerds who don't even own their own machine gun. In a way I suppose it comes down to the question if games have come far enough to maturely handle a game focused heavily on romance. I certainly think so, but I guess that the more important question is if there is a large enough market to support the development of a mainstream game in the genre.

    Vic on
    Niceguyeddie616
  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Games like that already exist. We also know that they are not big sellers. We further know that, and the PA forums are not immune to this, that a lot of the romance/dating sim/whatever games coming out of Japan are often derided. I think before we want to see more "mature" games, we have to do something about the attitude of a lot of the gamers out there, and the attitude of the industry as a whole.

    Consider what @The Sauce mentioned: Princess Maker. You raise a daughter, and depending on the choices you make for her she can turn out wildly different. Something of a seller in Japan. The PA forums thought it was charming, and Synthetic Orange's LP of it was great. Popular press killed it as "sexist", and due to other licensing issues the English version of the game was never released.

    In a gaming world where 2K actively courts the frat boy demographics in order to sell Bioshock: Infinite, and COD remains the best selling game ever, I don't think the US market is ready to support games that deal purely with love and romance, especially when most publishers are chasing the big-budget multi-million dollar dream.

  • Renegade WolfRenegade Wolf Registered User regular
    Mass Effect is a pretty great romance game

    I guess theres some minor side story to that as well though

  • VicVic Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    Games like that already exist. We also know that they are not big sellers. We further know that, and the PA forums are not immune to this, that a lot of the romance/dating sim/whatever games coming out of Japan are often derided. I think before we want to see more "mature" games, we have to do something about the attitude of a lot of the gamers out there, and the attitude of the industry as a whole.

    Yeah, it is unfair to discount the japanese dating sims. I would be interested to know about non-japanese games of this genre though, if anyone has any good examples.

  • Fleur de AlysFleur de Alys Biohacker Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    To be fair, Princess Maker (at least the one I've played) did have some kind of creepy stuff in there. Way too Japanese for mass Western markets in that sense (does that comment make me racist about the Japanese?). Mostly what I applaud it for is the creative gameplay applied. It's basically a super-detailed step-at-a-time character creation / optimization system with resource management and random events. But it works really well to do something I previously didn't imagine could really be done in a game.

    That's the question I'm interested in having answered: what gameplay mechanics can you apply to a romance game to make it fun to play, especially for the target audience? Once you solve that you can dress the game's presentation in mass market-suitable elements.

    You know, maybe The Sims is a good place to look here. The bar-balancing / time & money resource system could make a pretty solid mechanical background to a game about relationships.

    Fleur de Alys on
    Triptycho: A card-and-dice tabletop indie RPG currently in development and playtesting
  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    I think less The Sims, and more the Alpha Protocol dialogue decisions tree, complete with branching paths based on who you talked to and how you treated them.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    It's gross that the OP equates romance games with women as if women don't like violent games or as if men don't like romance games but whatever, that's a discussion for another time. As @Dr. Flamingo pointed out there are plenty of romance games (dating sims) around, though - check out some of the latest ones:

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/04/14/love-free-play-hard-the-weeks-friendliest-free-games/
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/190153/What_about_love_Inside_a_game_jam_revolution.php
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/04/12/a-pulse-pounding-heart-stopping-dating-sim-round-up/
    http://electricopolis.tumblr.com/post/47453738354/pphsjam-roundup-post

  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Before playing it I thought Persona 4 was famous because of its humor and murders. I was dead wrong.

    Cantido on
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