Extra Punctuation: Why No Couples in Games?

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Why No Couples in Games?

Yahtzee wonders why there are no functioning relationships in games.

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I agree that this lack of true relationships in video games is silly and it stops video games from being taken seriously as a medium. Your examples remind me of Aeris and Tifa in Final Fantasy 7. I could never tell which of them was supposed to actually be Cloud's girlfriend/love interest so I didn't really care at all when Aeris died.

I think I've yet to see a believable married couple depicted throughout a game.

"I need to get laid". Nice.

WAIT WAIT!! I need something so I don't get whacked for low content. Er....Great post?
I liked the couple in sands of time?

Yeah, that'll do. (No, I really did like it. The dialouge there was superb. Why did they fire whoever wrote that before making sequels?!?!)

EDIT: Ouch, Vamp! Not so rough!

Well, there's Love Plus, I hear that lets you marry the girl...

But seriously, yeah. I don't get why the girls always have to be virgins and stuff (when you have a young boy and an older female relative in a Japanese videogame, like Sharla and Juju from Xenoblade, they're ALWAYS brother and sister, why not have Sharla be Juju's mother?). I guess they think players want to see those women as THEIR love interest and that nerds somehow demand virgins but can't we move beyond "it's a she because that has sex appeal"?

Speaking of which, didn't Red Dead Redemption feature a married guy whose family is still alive? That's a rarity right there. Meanwhile Relic takes it a bit further with a gruff dude who killed his wife (as well as everybody else on the planet) for heresy and believes he did the right thing.

I think the only game that can truly represent a married couple is the Sims :P

And yet this problem exists in all other media as well. And they have no excuse seeing how they've been around for so much longer. The answer to this problem is really, really simple. Happy couples have no real conflict and that's not interesting. Also, believable romance is incredibly difficult to write and the games industry, at least, still has the excuse of not always being written by professional writers.

I'd say the reason why it's usually so hard is because effectively games ARE action movies, and interactive ones at that. we want the thrill of the chase, whether it's going after space orcs or that juicy pixelated skimpy dressed piece of polygon ass.

One good example on how to write a character with a relationship, though, is in the Witcher 2. Geralt starts the game with Triss, and she can, depending a bit on your choices, remain as such throughout the game. Sure, there is still booty aplenty for you to deviate with, but the game makes it entirely your choice. There is hints of another love interest who is kept offscreen throughout, but most importantly, while Triss is central to the plot, the relationship is treated very matter of factly, as an established trait of the characters, only there enough for we to know it exists and make us care a bit more about the eventual choices that come our way. Too bad the game's relative obtusiveness kept Yahtzee from it, because a great many deal of the things he champions are implemented in the game.

As ineffectual as Vincent is, the true endings (Katherine) are sufficient payoff. He took everything for granted but finally learned what was truly important. There's no reason to assume that females MUST be controlling in the relationship. If anything, he figured out he has to live up to his end of the bargain. Contrast that to Link and Mario who are the prime examples of hopeless romantics. What seems easier, going through endless worlds of insane danger and killer enemies, chatting up a nice girl at a store or a bar, or simply paying a few bucks?

Much worse than any of this is the insistance on "ineffectual male falling for harems" trope anime tends to use. Watch any of them and you can guarantee the one he falls for within ten seconds, THEN you spend 10-20 episodes waiting for them to do ANYTHING.

hmm, there is only one couple I can think of in a game that starts out a couple and ends a couple and that was Rosa and Cecil in final fantasy 2 (I think its like 3 in japan) they start our married and she doesnt die to provide him motivation or anything, sure they dont really do married stuff but its still a big improvement from the spouse who only exists to act as motivation

Actualy I do remember them hugging and the place they lived had the only double bed in the game and I think I remember a scene with them sleeping together in it... I guess Rydia could also have been like an adopted daughter to them too... hmm, I wonder how much of that games plot I missed because I was playing it when I was like 10 or something

It's a bit unfair to ask for a real relationship in a Mario game since Mario is a holdover from the old days when there simply wasn't enough room on the cartridge for both deep story and interesting gameplay.

Also, I can understand why we don't see many intact married couples (involving the protagonist, anyway) in videogames. Anyone who would go do all that risky-business adventuring so common to videogames would either be a person naturally predisposed to that kind of thing or a normal person in abnormal circumstances. It's unlikely that your usual swashbuckling adventurer would settle down in to a mutually-exclusive relationship, while the normal person might well get married which makes the abnormal circumstance that the normal person's significant other got kidnapped an appropriate motivation. While it would be neat to see a game where a married couple has to go on an adventure after their daughter is kidnapped or something, the generally solitary nature of most videogames' appropriately named single-player modes makes that proposition a bit improbable.

The rest of the points Yahtzee makes are valid. However, I must caution everyone that if we go too far in the opposite direction we might find ourselves in the bleak world of cinema: where every story needs to have a relationship regardless of its wild inappropriateness.

Oh my, a double post, how embarrassing.

And in the end, it all boils down to "Fuck, I need to get laid."

Ah, Kratos. I've never played a god of war game, but even I know you're such a dick.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
the lady had to appear free-spirited and attainable to make the nerds wet.

Don't you mean hard?...Oh I see what you did there.

twm1709:
I think the only game that can truly represent a married couple is the Sims :P

True, my wife and I mostly just mumble at each other now... but at least woo hooing in real life lasts longer.

I thought San Adreas did a pretty good job on relationships. I've dated girls like the first one: liked flowers, bars, fast food joints, and "blastin foos,"
GTA4 tried doing it too but made it more annoying and made all the girls too similar.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
the lady had to appear free-spirited and attainable to make the nerds wet.

Don't you mean hard?...Oh I see what you did there.

twm1709:
I think the only game that can truly represent a married couple is the Sims :P

True, my wife and I mostly just mumble at each other now... but at least woo hooing in real life lasts longer.

I thought San Adreas did a pretty good job on relationships. I've dated girls like the first one: liked flowers, bars, fast food joints, and "blastin foos,"
GTA4 tried doing it too but made it more annoying and made all the girls too similar.

Yahtzee Croshaw:

Yahtzee wonders why there are no functioning relationships in games.

Haven't relationships been systematically removed from games? Zoey and Louis were meant to be having one in L4D. Ellis and Zoey is nixed pretty quickly, as is Francis and Rochelle.

Lara went from being coquettish to ice-maiden. Alyx flirts with Gordon outrageously, but his reaction is almost gay indifference.

And it's not like there's not room for it. A number of Baldur's Gate mods let you form meaningful relationships and even go on picnics together...

Ah...

That's it....

How can you have slash when there's no potential? Rule -34, if you will. If you've already drawn them having sex, where will all the slash come from?

Strife2GFAQs:
As ineffectual as Vincent is, the true endings (Katherine) are sufficient payoff. He took everything for granted but finally learned what was truly important. There's no reason to assume that females MUST be controlling in the relationship. If anything, he figured out he has to live up to his end of the bargain. Contrast that to Link and Mario who are the prime examples of hopeless romantics. What seems easier, going through endless worlds of insane danger and killer enemies, chatting up a nice girl at a store or a bar, or simply paying a few bucks?

Much worse than any of this is the insistance on "ineffectual male falling for harems" trope anime tends to use. Watch any of them and you can guarantee the one he falls for within ten seconds, THEN you spend 10-20 episodes waiting for them to do ANYTHING.

The World God Only Knows says Hi.

OT: Pretty interesting to read, I did feel that the romance in Dragon Age was more believable than in ME, because of it not being locked in (Mass Effect only talking to them after missions, and sex scene just before final one, DA:O one could do it half way through the game).

It might be partly due to the whole pre-existing relationship problem. It can be tricky to get players to care about a character whose relationship to the protagonist depends on a shared past that the player doesn't know anything about. (Arg, awkward sentence.) It's one of the reasons why you see so many outsider and/or amnesiac video game heroes.

As for games that depict in-progress relationships... well, The Witcher 2 started with Geralt and Triss being lovers. However, Triss does get nabbed eventually, and Geralt seems to have various other women flinging themselves at him throughout the game.

Also, dare I mention the ME2 DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker? I found the ongoing Shepard-and-Liara relationship in that to be surprisingly endearing.

Lastly, yes it would would be cool to see an old married couple as adventurers.

Double post. Forums are being a pain in the arse.

What about Mafia? Wasn't that a proper relationship done right? Sure it didn't exist at the start of the game, but not only was the blossoming romance believable, but the woman doesn't even die at ANY point in the game!

You know what? Now that you mention it, I've noticed a distinct lack of relationships in video games. Even in Pokemon the Player Characters' father is always mysteriously absent, except for Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald where your character's dad is the one Gym Leader.

Happy couples don't risk their lives to save the world, they stay home to make risotto and erh.. watch the cartoon network. It's not interesting as a plot device, there is no McGuffin. The perfect story relationship is one of deep love obstructed by outside forces. Thats why Mario needs to rescue the princess all the time, and...

Small TW2 spoiler

Final Fantasy VIII had the whole Squall-Rinoa thing, what about that?

All though I suppose it's stupid how Squall goes from not giving a shit about anyone but himself to loving this girl he's just met, I don't get that.

But I mean, they really loved each other.

Zhukov:
Also, dare I mention the ME2 DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker? I found the ongoing Shepard-and-Liara relationship in that surprisingly endearing.

Was just about to write the same thing until I saw your post. The relationship between Shepard and Liara is brilliantly done and, in my opinion, superior to all the other relationship possibilities in ME2. The dialogue of a couple trying to pick up where they were years before is superb.

By the gods, this is so true.

I was just complaining in another thread about the lack of real relationships in games. Catherine took several bold steps in the right direction, but I want to see more of that - preferably with a female protagonist (but then, I've talked about the need for more of those in several threads before this).

One reason I spend so much time playing Bioware games is because Bioware actually lets you have a relationship - and even then, the relationships are often kind of shallow. No matter what other faults one might have with it, Dragon Age 2 actually does a really good job of establishing and developing a relationship between Hawke and whomever the player ends up with. You might not like the choice in characters, but if you do, then that relationship is well developed.

Of course, everyone still wears their insane, uncomfortable, overly complex underpants to bed. But at least it's trying.

It's times like these I sit back and say God Bless, Persona 4. Granted the protagonist is supernaturally likeable and people are drawn to him almost against their will, but if I was hanging around with him as he carried out his mission in that game, I'd probably fall in love with him too.

I've also found Nathan Drake and Elena's romantic build up over the two Uncharted games really effective.

Squilookle:
What about Mafia? Wasn't that a proper relationship done right? Sure it didn't exist at the start of the game, but not only was the blossoming romance believable, but the woman doesn't even die at ANY point in the game!

I suppose, but she is hardly a significant character. In fact, I can't remember for the life of me what her name is, and I've played through it at least 4 times. Julia? Sarah? It's nearly always a Sarah. Whatever it is, she only appears in an escourt mission and a couple of cutscenes. Not much to go on in terms of presenting a developed and blossoming relationship.

I was just having this discussiion about married couples hardly ever being in movies. It is even worse in games! I guess the reason is that all stories are about overcoming an obstacle to get to a goal. If it is a romantic plot, a pre-married character has aready achieved their goal, and lacks teh obstacles a guy in love at first sight/rescuing the princess faces.

What we need is a Sam and Max style set up, in which the two are around each other consistently, with a secure and knowing familiarity with one another. They can exchange witticisms, alternate play styles, and an affection for each other from the start.

Worgen:
hmm, there is only one couple I can think of in a game that starts out a couple and ends a couple and that was Rosa and Cecil in final fantasy 2 (I think its like 3 in japan) they start our married and she doesnt die to provide him motivation or anything, sure they dont really do married stuff but its still a big improvement from the spouse who only exists to act as motivation

Actualy I do remember them hugging and the place they lived had the only double bed in the game and I think I remember a scene with them sleeping together in it... I guess Rydia could also have been like an adopted daughter to them too... hmm, I wonder how much of that games plot I missed because I was playing it when I was like 10 or something

I don't think they are technically married until the end but yeah. They even had a special sprite animation for them hugging. She is the central plot point a couple times but it's not "murder everyone in the way".

On that note, Yang is married as well, if that counts for anything

Truly-A-Lie:
I've also found Nathan Drake and Elena's romantic build up over the two Uncharted games really effective.

I was thinking about that too, but that's just another example of the "female tagging along until she becomes the protagonist's girlfriend" scenario. It is well done and I love Elana as a character, don't get me wrong, but it's been done a thousand times in games already. Hopefully the fact that Catherine actually did extremely well for Atlus in sales indicates that there is indeed an audience for this sort of story, even if you do have to go through an obnoxiously difficult puzzle game to get to it.

Bostur:
Happy couples don't risk their lives to save the world, they stay home to make risotto and erh.. watch the cartoon network. It's not interesting as a plot device, there is no McGuffin. The perfect story relationship is one of deep love obstructed by outside forces. Thats why Mario needs to rescue the princess all the time, and...

Small TW2 spoiler

Exactly right.

hawk533:
I agree that this lack of true relationships in video games is silly and it stops video games from being taken seriously as a medium. Your examples remind me of Aeris and Tifa in Final Fantasy 7. I could never tell which of them was supposed to actually be Cloud's girlfriend/love interest so I didn't really care at all when Aeris died.

I think it as supposed to be Tifa since Cloud met Aeris for the first time during the game and she died about two hours of gameplay later.

KDR_11k:

Speaking of which, didn't Red Dead Redemption feature a married guy whose family is still alive? That's a rarity right there. Meanwhile Relic takes it a bit further with a gruff dude who killed his wife (as well as everybody else on the planet) for heresy and believes he did the right thing.

Yeah, but for the main part of the game they only serve as a 'Princess Peach'. Although (spoiler alert) the last hour of the game obviously makes up for that to a certain extent. Then again, an ending like that pretty much makes up for every fault a game could possibly have, if you ask me.

I had an idea for a game (which never got past the very early planning stages)- about a husband/wife mercenary team taking up odd jobs to make a nest egg to raise a family. They'd both use gun play, but one would be a fast gunslinger and the other would be a heavy weapons wielder- and the player would switch between the two styles by jumping between them as needed.

It's kind of a stupid idea- but the fact that I thought it was super original means I must have subconsciously noticed the absence of that kind of relationship too.

Also: Perhaps that's why all these macho warriors go on a killing rampage after wifey dies- they're pissed off because they haven't gotten laid in forever.

Your examples with Mario and Kratos help frame your argument, but they don't do much to substantiate it. Unless I missed something in God of War 3 (which I haven't played yet), Kratos's story was always blatantly about "counter[ing] a slight made against [him] personally." Each game had a different slight to counter, but not a one of them was the death of his wife. The first game, to me, made it very clear that Kratos cared less about the death of his family and more about Ares "tricking" him into killing them.

And Mario? To even begin to believe those games are meant to depict a relationship between him and Peach is to take the first steps into madness.

Hm... Thinking of couples in games, Baldur's gate comes to mind. In BG(1) you practically start off with a married couple of Jaheira and Khalid which caries over to BG2 and by that time you have motivation to care for Khalid and understand Jaheiras need for revenge. And if you romance her, it actually carries over to ToB!
Other nice romance in BG2 was Anomen. At first I thought he's a douche and little in the head, but after romancing him I realized I kinda like the fella.
Oh and there are romances between NPCs even without Player interaction! Aerie - Haer'Dalis, and my favorite Edwin - Viconia :)

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