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Space for Rent: James Bonding


Tweet of the Day: Faces on the Wall

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This is a post that blends video games with social commentary.

You have been warned.

Okay, here we go.

Certain video game studios, like EA’s BioWare, are known for the emphasis on story in their game. As part of that emphasis they have included the chance for the main character to enter into romantic relationships with other characters in the game. Over time the ability to create characters of each gender has expanded the roster of possible romantic candidate. BioWare has gone so far include same-sex romances.

So far so good.

However I noticed a trend among fans of these games demanding that every none-player be made available as a romance option, regardless of each side’s biological sexuality or sexual identity.  Hence the term “James Bonding” in the title, based on the phrase, “All women want him, all men want to be him.” And to be honest, I find it a little creepy.

Why?

I mean this is nothing new. The hero always gets the boy/girl, right?

Yes, but am not talking about a budding romance that develops over the course of the story. I’m talking about creating characters specifically to be romantically and (increasingly) sexually available to the main character. In other words, these characters, if developers where to give in to the desires express by some of their fans, any significant character would, after a few dialogue options, gift giving or other game mechanic, fall for the player character, just to expand upon the player’s power fantasy. In fact the developers designed certain characters with the idea of making them available for romantic purposes. It all boils down to what the player wants and nothing else.

Again…creepy.

And again, you ask, why?

Because these “relationships” have no bearing with reality whatsoever. The idea that everyone should prostrate sexually to the main character just because is troubling to say the least. Furthermore certain fans get angry when non-player characters don’t fit their desires, even if the character past history or sexual identity is incompatible with the main character’s own sexual identity. And yes I am well aware that games exist largely in a fantasy space. Yet some fantasies are healthier than others not to mention it can lead to massive character derailment. By all means, have all manner of characters reflecting the full spectrum of age, race, religion and sexual identity. Some of them might, if their stories are written right, be available for a romantic tryst as part of their storyline. Because just like in real life, healthy relationships are not one sided and people have the right to say no, after all.

The alternative is illegal, for obvious reasons.

Let me make one thing clear, this has nothing to do with the player character’s sexuality. The player should be free to express this aspect of their personality through their character. But creating a host of NPCs just to fulfill the player’s romantic expectations is shallow and diminishes the story so beloved by the players of these games. If games are to evolve in their story telling aspect they must embrace the adult aspects of relationships, not only sex, but breakups, unrequited love and the simple fact that true love is never one sided .

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