So this weekend I was occupied with a wedding between two good friends of mine. As the night played out, I was taken aback by something that I thought was famously dying. Romance. And I pondered why I didn't see much of "this" type of romance in our consumption of media.
Just to dive into the topic head first, I've come to notice that my interests in Sci-fi, fantasy and action cater very little to this immense force of nature. I dare say a male of my age group and interests is probably more bombarded with violence and humour then the arrow of cupid. But perhaps that also gave a little bit of weight to my observation.
My belief that all of us are spoon fed this idea of love isn't ground breaking or new. You can ask any divorcee or one of their kids, it's a complicated thing. Oddly enough though I felt there was a genuine air of affection amongst the crowd that night. The point sort of hit me when I noticed that something was off. Something was alien to me within the night's circumstances because we see it so little nowadays. I looked around to see old couples lovingly holding hands, younger couples dancing with each other as though only they were on the dance floor and newly united families join in the center of the reception area to pass embarrassing stories of the bride and groom in an attempt to solidify a new companionship (odd, I know). It was pretty impressive if I must say myself. The fact that two very nice people would join and bring so much love to everybody else around them had moved me... Slightly, but it still moved me. That and I'm sure the alcohol moved us all a little also.
What does this have to do with anything gaming related specifically? Well...
As I stated, we're spoon fed some pretty "cookie cutter" ideals behind love. Nothing exceptionally exciting if you look at it from afar for a moment. If it was to pass the same for everybody, would it be so special? Dumb question, the answer of course is no... Or yes, maybe? I don't know maybe it's that powerful. Point being that the main culprits in my mind are indeed movies, television and books, (Also porn too if your that sort of person. I don't judge). And they generally follow a formulaic sequence of events. Person meets other person, they hit it off, something challenges their affection and then through the huge shit storm of... Whatever, they decide that it is indeed "true love". Or in the case that one of them dies, then the other goes on knowing that at one time they had "true love" and that those feelings will still endure until they die. The end.
Now, that's not what I saw on Saturday, though. In fact most of what I saw can only be described as "real". Those old couples bickered, the young ones displeased each other with juvenile behaviour and I'm damn sure that not every new in-law walked away ecstatic with each other. The real build up to a special connection is long, the challenges brought on by that commitment are everlasting, and not just a single act in a story snippet of two people's lives. Usually it could possibly be, oh I don't know, a bunch of unrelated incidents shared with one another that could push them together or apart. It's less a grand gesture that ends up in tragedy or spontaneous companionship, and when that does happen it's often unfortunate or to the latter, joyous. (A series of unrelated events, huh? Sounds kind of like given missions.)
Yet, there it is. Through the outpouring of love throughout the room I noticed not a single person keeping to themselves. And being that I know a lot of them first hand, I know that many of them are not social people. It takes getting over a certain level of vulnerability to have an emotion resonate with people as much as it does. Be it fear, happiness or anger, and yet you can't can vulnerability and sell it in a book, a movie or television show. Yes, I believe that you can have an audience relate to the characters who are going through the emotional roller coaster, however true vulnerability comes with you having circumstance thrown in front of you, and then having to deal with any number of possible unforeseen outcomes. Most of which can potentially end uncomfortably for one person, or worse, both. And that doesn't just apply to love and romance, it applies to all genres really.
So, having seen what I saw and experienced the night for what it was, I can honestly say that vulnerability and an evasion of discomfort make people do crazy things, not love or hate. Interactivity can carry vulnerability to places most audiences wouldn't dare go themselves, but through the safety of an on screen avatar and by dishing out the meaningful exposition in smaller less connected doses, we could approach a new level of emotional response in games that could quite possibly be unattainable for some other mediums. Then, hopefully those people who wouldn't dare go there before will possibly step up to the plate and have fun with experiences that are otherwise just flat out scary.
So, an auto saving, vastly open world, dating simulator, set amongst the backdrop of the uprising of cyborgs. That sounds like a situation that I'd in real life need some adjusting to properly calibrate myself to simply because of the idea that anything could hurt me on a number of different levels. But as weird as that scenario sounds, as a game, hell I'd play it.
(Disclaimer: I've never read or seen any of the "Twilight" movies. If you're thinking that Twilight however is possibly a better example of a current popular romantic story, go ahead and toss yourself off a flight of stairs. The trauma may help rectify that thought as it's possibly the most notorious current offender. Yeah, I said it!)