“With Valentines Day behind us, most companies are done peddling their romantic stuff until maybe Christmas, but video games offer romance all year round. Various visual novels will create romance storylines for people to follow that are usually going to be big and epic in some way, usually trying to realistic but also epic. Then we have the other side of games, the ones that add some sort of relationship simulation onto them, so that you get into a relationship with a character you have had the biggest impact on. I remember Final Fantasy 7 making that into a big thing where you could go on a date with one of the girls in the party (or the other male if you didn’t score high enough). It was something funny and cute and unexpected,” Drraagh says as he sits at his desk, popping some chocolates from a leftover Valentine’s Day box into his mouth.
“Nowadays, games like GTA and Mass Effect have had relationship scenes and even been in the news for their ‘sex simulations’. Hot Coffee was a cut feature, eliminated from the code but players found it, while the ‘Romance Scenes’ in Mass Effect were blown out of proportion to make it into something more adult and raunchy. This is not to say there is not a market for adult games. There are definite sites who completely make their living creating sex games. While Hentai games and various smaller adult titles are out there, some games do use sex as a main focus of the game and still go for mass marketing. Leisure Suit Larry games are an example of this, but there was a Sims-like game Playboy: The Mansion where the player shoots Sims to create a Playboy magazine and throws various parties and works to build or adjust relationships, and another called 7 Sins where the goal was to make choices to build relations with people by the seven deadly sins.”
A few more chocolates and then the empty box is thrown away as Drraagh smiles softly. “Can’t believe how cheap this stuff is after holidays. But anyway, like the Playboy and 7 Sins games, dating sims are quite popular a relationship game. They can be anywhere from kid-friendly style games to much more adult types where the goal is to go over the top. Yandere Simulator is an example of a game going out of its way with unique mechanics, as to quote from the game’s site
Yandere Simulator is a stealth game about stalking a boy and secretly eliminating any girl who has a crush on him, while maintaining the image of an innocent schoolgirl.
Kind of sets a whole different tone from the warm, lovely kind of dating sims that are out there. However, in a market full of games that are pretty much the same thing, as you build a relationship with the girl to have her fall in love with you, there need to be ways to make it stand out. The video game Doki Doki Literature Club has been getting a lot of press about how it does the same in twisting expectations. I won’t spoil it for those who have been unaware of the twists, as I think it is a well done game for it.”
“This is without even getting into the extremely perverted stuff out there as there are games out there like Battle Raper which is a Japanese fighting game where the female characters can lose their clothes as they take damage and special moves include sexually explicit grapple attacks, or various virtual reality games that even go so far as to include attachments for kissing, fondling or making love. Some people could say these games simulate things we don’t want people to be doing in the real world and they can do them in the privacy of their own homes, and others may say that this will just push the person to go out in the real world seeking the same experience. Both sides are right, if you look at it realistically, someone who was addicted to something will go seek it out wherever they can get it, but someone who just wants a taste of it might be satisfied with the game.”
“The reason why some of these games get made, the reason virtual relationships are taking off is because we are living in a world where the drive to perform is overpacing the drive to have a relationship. Companionship and the various stressors of having to be places and do things for the other person will cut into the hectic life where some people may be working up to six days a week and ten or more hours a day. What is better than just coming home and having a relationship with someone who is just happy to see you and wants to be there for you. The movie Her, as seen in this trailer, will show an example where a recently divorced man starts a relationship with an AI. While I haven’t seen the movie,” Drraagh say and chuckles, “The concept does some kinda interesting. We have seen other examples of technology being used to fill the needs in movies and TV shows, from Star Trek’s holodeck to The 6th Day ‘virtual girl’ chair, where one of the characters says
If your senses tell you you have a hot chick on your lap, you have a hot chick on your lap.
And the slew of video games trying to build more realistic girls are doing just that. Fulfilling the need of the companionship, someone to talk to, someone to just hang out with and socialize with when we have time to do that socialization. The problem that will occur with this becomes, exactly where does the line get drawn? Are we going to have people addicted to video game families? An example I could quote here would be the episode of Voyager Real Life where the holographic doctor creates a virtual family and the consequences of how much realism is worthwhile. Imagine if the game examined your system clock and if you didn’t visit your virtual girlfriend, she threw a fit thinking you were neglecting her? Kinda defeats the purpose of the virtual girl now, doesn’t it?”