Saturday, 10 March 2012

Gaming Valentine Woes

A little late to be posting here but nevermind! I originally wrote this on the 9th February 2012 for Forces of Geek. I enjoyed writing this so expect a similar feature next year!

As it's Valentine's Day next week I thought I'd abandon my usual ranting to talk about love.

Although themes of love exist within games, love and relationships are rarely explored outside of the RPG genre.

You only have to look at the Final Fantasy franchise to see that!

Still, the majority of games lightly graze the surface or subtly hint about love but it’s never in a way that drives the story. Our poor heroes often get dealt a bad hand when it comes to in-game relationships and there's no tutorial for love.

So, I’ve decided to act as Agony Aunt to some of video games’ most troubled Valentines...

Dear Mario,

Over the years You’ve fought turtles, giant bullets and weird... brown... mushroom things with teeth all to prove your love of Princess Peach. 

I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you but I don’t think Peach has ever technically been kidnapped by Bowser. Seems like she’s cheating on you with a muscular, fire-breathing castellan. What's more, she’s just not into you and though she may be little more than an attention seeker, she might be a little out of your league. 

You’re a plumber and she’s a princess (just saying). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you probably smell of rancid water and sewage (nature of the job and all...) aaaaand you spend an unhealthy amount of time with your brother. 

There’s also the drug addiction; those mushrooms aren’t the same as the ones in your mama’s secret spaghetti sauce recipe, Mario. 

Ever wonder why she gets “kidnapped” so often? Or why you there’s always an unlimited number of Bowser’s kids in each castle? Where do they come from?! Either he’s mad about adoption or – and I don’t like to be the one to say it but um - Bowser and Peach have been pretty busy. Sorry, you might want to give Daisy a try.

Dear Dr. Freeman,

Let’s talk about a certain Alyx Vance. 

Not only do you have her father’s blessing but Alyx is totally into you. You can’t say you haven’t noticed the tension between you! She blushed when her dad brought it up. You spend all of your time in the lab, wearing nothing but that tight radiation suit and even though you have a morphine dependency, she still finds you attractive. 

Alyx obviously likes the strong, silent type and despite coming across as a willful independent lady I can tell she's actually very traditional and doesn’t want to make the first move. 

You need to take the lead and tell her your feelings or she might lose interest. You have a voice, so use it Gordon! You live in a world where the population has been severely slaughtered. Take a chance on Alyx, she might be the only decent woman you’ll meet...or the only woman at all for that matter! 

You’ve been through so much bad stuff that you deserve to settle down with Alyx. You already have a dog – well, um... a robot that thinks it’s a dog. That’s a start though!

Dear Barry,

We all know who your Valentine is and Jill certainly lives up to her name sake, however it appears you need a little guidance when speaking to potential partners. 

Women don’t like to be objectified and referring to Jill as the filling in a delicious sandwich is bad practice. While this may be complimentary in your eyes, the term “Jill Sandwich” is rather derogatory and if you want a chance to sweep Jill off her feet, this isn’t the way to go about it. There’s also the rather awkward work ethics to consider. Generally, colleagues shouldn’t date and most companies frown upon it. Check with S.T.A.R.S. or consider re-reading your contract just to be safe! 

If you’re not careful Jill could get you in trouble for inappropriate conduct in the work place. What's most frustrating is that you started off so well, with gifts of lockpicks and the compliments but perhaps next time you want to give her a gift, maybe try something different? 

While she is the master of unlocking and certainly appreciates them she might like a few other shiny objects? And by that I definitely don’t mean ink ribbons. 

Oh, and you ought to stick around a bit instead of wandering off all the time. Jill won’t see you as potential boyfriend material if you’re never around for her to notice.

Dear Dom,

For the love of God, shut the hell up! I don’t mean to sound so aggressive but we all know you love Maria. 

We don’t need to hear it whilst we’re slaughtering grubs or trying to take on a horde of tickers. You signed up to fight, so fight. 

Also, tattoos of loved ones? Generally those aren’t a good idea. I understand that you love her but she’s gone now. A brooding, muscular, romantic like you needs to move on and find a new girlfriend. 

There’s no replacing Maria but there are other fish in the sea (second thoughts, the only fish in your sea are angry alien ones with sharp teeth – so ignore that). 

Caring for your new vegetable patch is a great way to deal with loss and is wonderfully nurturing. Plus, it has the added benefit of providing nourishment but this new found love in your tomatoes – well, it’s unhealthy but more importantly it’s unrequited. Perhaps there are some other feelings that you’ve ignored but have suddenly come to light since Maria’s untimely departure? Your one true, intimate relationship has been in front of you all along but was masked by a beautiful Latino lady. You might not want to believe it but Marcus Fenix has always been there for you. 

Trustworthy, dependable and willing to risk his life for you, he’s just the thing you need. He could have co-oped with Anya anytime he wanted but there’s only one love of his life. You, Dom... you. 

All this time you’ve been so blind. Well, consider me your seeing eye-dog. Next time he's screaming out in pain, rush over there and pick him up - but as you do, just give his meaty, veiny neck a little kiss. 

See what happens.

I know I’ve only been able to offer my advice to a handful of star-crossed lovers and would-be Casanova's and I sincerely hope my advice reaches them well. I expect to see a wedding invite Gordon (I want an excuse to buy a new hat!) and I hope you find it in yourself to move on, Mario. As for all you other desperate romantic sprites, sorry I’ve been unable to reply. Let's hope you fare better next year.

Until next year, have a Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!


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