Lunchtime Discussion: Valentines

So currently it’s Sunday night, Valentines Day in fact, and I’m watching Tim Minchin with my girlfriend. I’ve suddenly realised that one of these here discussions needs to be prepared before tomorrow. I’ve got a little time, and as I’m with my girlfriend I’ve been nudged into doing a valentines themed discussion. She’s suggested asking for geeky valentines gifts, but I’m not sure there’d really be much of a discussion. Sure I did get a comic (Batman No Man’s Land Volume 5 if you’re interested), which is pretty geeky in a lot of ways, but I don’t know if anyone else’s partner has gone this way. So I’m picking option two, love stories.

Are there really that many love stories in games? Well you could go all the way back to Mario and Pauline in Donkey Kong, and then Princess Peach in the Super Mario Bros (although are Mario and Princess Peach really an item?).  The story in these games is hardly deep or complex – Mario needs to save the girl, go get the girl – but the driving force is love, something which we see less of these days. Sometimes a love ‘interest’ is tacked onto the side, but more often than not it’s ‘save the world’ rather than ‘save the girl’. Sure this makes for more epic plots, but doesn’t it make some of the games seem a little unobtainable?

How many of us are genuinely in a situation where the world hangs in the balance by your actions? Unless Barrack Obama has taken to reading TSA recently I don’t think many of us feel that way in every day life. On the other hand most of us are familiar with doing something to get the guy or girl we want. Sacrifices are made, grand gestures are unveiled and sometimes, hopefully, we get the person we want. Sure these actions don’t make for great plotlines in any title that isn’t a dating sim, but at least we can appreciate the goal. Why not tie saving the girl together with saving the world in a Heroes or Shadow Complex style?

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So am I missing something? Are there a huge wealth of love stories out there in gaming, aside from the tacked on love interest – see Gears of War 2 for a terrible example of this. Are more games setting a relatable goal, love story or otherwise? Let us know.

I know it’s cheesy as hell, but this discussion is dedicated to Helen. Thank you for putting up with me.

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