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thelovegoose

Anyone got anything profound to say about love in games?

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Along the lines of whether there is any place in games for love? could we ever expect a player to love a computer character? What is there to gain from including love in games?

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Falling in love with a game character can be only expected from people with mental problems.

Inflicting emotions is a different thing. Build emotional attachment between the player and a character and negative actions against him will hurt the player too - creating anger, spirit of revenge and so on. That is drama. I can give you some examples from the movies: general Maximus from Gladiator, main character in Shindler's List, King Kong - the monkey, the Pontiac car from Transformers. All these characters create strong emotions because they live with a pain which grows bigger to the end. If you study the ancient drama you will see an almost similar template.

In games I think you can study the mechanics for creating emotions in games like Max Payne, Blizzard games (they have some good characters there). Again, I think that pain, struggle for something, the fight to achieve against all odds are the best way to create an appealing character. Most people have the dream to achieve something (the others are just wasting their life time) and the very nature of humanity is compassion (more or less or you cannot be considered a human being - those characters in games have names like Lost or Broken because their existence is against the human nature).

Think more about creating characters with high emotional impact.

About including love in games - it has been done a lot of times. The hero that rescues his loving girl. The brother driven by revenge - which comes from love. Still, all these games have some major pitfall - violence is not connected with love. I'd like to see one game where you take actions driven by "love" as a story setting because, as I said, you cannot be healthy and feel love for anything else that a human being. Even for animals, you can develop a strong emotional link but it is not in love, as you won't be able to sacrifice yourself for it to live. Care is when you put the other before you and. Love is the care driven to a degree where you put his/her life before yours. This definition excludes possibility to fall in love with you computer ^^.



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If it doesn't involve some form of codependance, spite, and general insecurity, it's not really about love. I'm not trying to be intentionally bitter, just accurate. :)

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I love games, does that count?

I'm not sure what the current state of affairs is among gamers, but with the MMO boom and the reflection of MMO principles in single-player games (FFXII having loot that requires multiple raids of dungeons for a chance-based drop, for instance), my mindset, and I suspect that of others, is very clinical. "Love" is like "roleplaying" or "teamwork". It'll be min-maxed to yield the greatest good relative to the player's success. If you can charm, woo, seduce, wine, dine and flatter the Princess of the Galaxy throughout a game and then kill her off in a side-quest to get a sword that does 5% more damage than any other sword in the game, people will farm that relationship with their eyes on the prize. If she's not really worth anything, then she'll be on the back burner until the end of the game, whereupon we'll load up our last save before the boss and grind her to max levels just to get the 100% game completion.

Love is for stories, and stories belong in cutscenes. You can't count of players of an electonic game (with no DM to guide them) to grow attached to NPCs as more than assets.

That said, I fly into a murderous rage when Dogmeat dies in Fallout, and many of my friends were genuinely upset about the whole Aeris thing. But the ones who trained Aeris got angrier than the ones who didn't, and it's worth noting that people got upset in FFV when that old guy died, but almost immediately got over their grief when his skills were transferred to the girl who joined your party shortly thereafter.

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I think it's really interesting how games can take 180degrees different approaches to love. A game can treat love as a game mechanic, which makes it seems rather mathematical like the chemistry of atoms combining into molecules, or a game can include the love as part of a mandatory linear story, which makes it seem destined and supernatural. I like both of these approaches because I think they each have their own virtues, although as a player I prefer the mathematical/chemical approach.

I am also eagerly awaiting the day I can court (male!) NPCs as part of playing an MMO - that can be a lot of fun in single player ren'ai games and I think it would enrich MMOs and help them seem more like a complete world.

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I think inspiring real love for a game character in the player is asking a bit much. Not only are people's interests vastly different, the "relationship", if one can call it that, will also be a bit shallow to say the least.

Maybe there is a formula that makes a character interesting to a good sum of your targeted player community, perhaps even to the point that they would buy posters and models of it, but that should be about it. I doubt you can get much further for "normal" people with a normal social life :)

But maybe you should take everything I say with a grain of salt. I'm notorious for causing those John Doe formulas to fail. Whatever game I play, I am completely ignorant of the character I'm supposed to grow a liking to. For example, althought I enjoyed the classical Final Fantasy parts, I couldn't relate with those Tifas and Rinoas at all and thus it was rather tedious playing out a story that centered around them.

-Markus-

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I would have to say Shenmue is a great example of attachment in a game.

Basically, Ryo's (Main Character) dad dies, and he has to find out who killed him. Its mostly an adventure game, consisting of going from place to place talking to people etc. They sprinkled this game with some arcade-like fight scenes, that always happen for a reason.

Although Ryo isnt saving the world, or defeating a great evil, you still feel a strong emotional attachment to him.

If anyone has a Dreamcast lying around, I would recommend getting it. Or get Shenmue 2 for the Xbox.

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Quote:
As HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic said:
"Definition: Love is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope. Love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticle, and together, achieving a singular purpose against statistically long odds."


HK-47 understands.

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I'm surprised it's not been mentioned yet, because it gets referenced so often, but Ico establishes a beautiful emotional bond between player and Yorda. OK they're children so it's not quite traditional romantic love, but it's still a very obvious archetypal relationship.

Enough people have raved about the game over the years that it would be redundant for me to waffle on about it, so suffice to say that they achieve a really poignant emotional feel through a very subtle and light touch. Even though the game is entirely linear, the controls are clunky and the puzzles are iffy, they still imbue the two main characters with a great deal of personality. And all done with no real dialogue, too.

Taby jokingly mentioned codependency, but in Ico that really is the basis of the relationship. You perpetually have to protect, guide and babysit Yorda... and she has the vital roles of opening doors and helping out operating some of the machinery. It's a classic mechanic that, after spending the entire game catching her when she falls, the moment when they reverse the roles and she grabs you when you fall... well it's a powerful moment.

Praise to Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time too (which obviously took Ico as a major reference point). The relationship with Farah is less beautiful than the one in Ico, but it's still good. It's all based on well-worn cliches, but they're cinematic cliches that work, rather than hamfisted game cliches. The relationship with Farah begins as dislike and rivalry; you help each other out (and some of this happens with dialogue happening in-game while she fights by your side -- infinitely more worthwhile than using cutscenes) -- her presence keeps you company in some lonely places -- and there's a final sense of loss. Classic.

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