Of course video games have sexist elements to them – OF COURSE they do. But that doesn’t keep it from irritating me when those sexist elements interfere with my enjoyment of gaming.
RPGs (Role Playing Games) often have romance storylines. RPGs are not linear. Thus there is a ton of replay value and they end up being somewhat similar to Choose Your Own Adventure books. There are tons of variables the gamer faces and he or she makes choices about what characters do, where they go, when, whether they have a sense of morality, and to what extent they build relationships with NPCs (Non-Player Characters) in the game. The choices made throughout a game impact how much NPCs trust the gamer’s character, and what he/she will do.
The romance storyline is almost always a part of this. In order to get a romance storyline working, the gamer has to have his/her character talk to the desired love interest a ton, and say the kinds of things the NPC will appreciate. Additionally, there is also almost always a side quest to complete to really, truly gain the NPC’s trust and affection. This takes hours. I’m not exaggerating. I get that gaming is often viewed as a pathetic sort of thing because of the time it consumes, but I guarantee you’ve spent more time watching tv than have in the past year.
So… the thing about being a girl gamer is that the storylines are set up to be for a dude. Mass Effect 2 is a great example. In it, there are 4 romance options for a dude. All of them are pretty decent. There are 4 romance options for a female character – 3 of them suck.
As a dude, Shepherd can sleep with a woman who has been bio/genitically/whatever engineered to be really sexy and competent. He can also have romance (no sex) with a crazy girl who has tattoos all over her and walks around the ship barely clothed. He can also have romance with an alien whose face you never see because of her special space suit, but she’s got a REALLY human and female shape, voice, etc… He can also talk a lesbian into doing a sexy dance for him in his quarters.
As a female, Shepherd can have a pretty decent romance with a guy who has excellent abs, but kind of isn’t impressive other than that. She can also have an alien who REALLY doesn’t look like a human at all and they have to discuss whether or not their anatomy will even allow for sex. I didn’t play that one all the way through, because it weirded me out a bit too much. She can also have the same alien male Shepherd can have with the very human female shape, voice, etc… She can also have the lesbian.
And, okay, as a female, what I really want out of the romance is not at all the perfect abs, or the animated cut-scene sex. I want to have a character who is important to my character. I want to have the flirtatious dialogue options. I want to have the sense that he’s fallen for my character fully and will never want to be with anyone else. WHY DON’T THEY GET A WOMAN TO WRITE THE FEMALE ROMANCE STORYLINES?!?!?!?!
Why am I on this rant, you ask?
The last thing I did in 2015 is beat Dragon Age: Origins.
Best romance option as a female is Alistair, and I have to say, he is a REALLY GOOD option. He’s well-written, sympathetic, adorable… However, at the end of the game, female Gray Warden either has to die saving him or he dies saving her. There is no option for both of you living unless you pimp Alistair out to a witch who will become impregnated with his baby, which she will raise however she sees fit, without Alistair ever seeing it. Also, you can try to persuade him to marry his half-brother’s widow.
This isn’t a problem when you play as a male character… the romance interests for you don’t end up in either of those messes, or, at least I don’t see any way they possibly could…
I’m just saying… it seems slightly unfair….