Ah, video games. There’s nothing like booting up your console, shooting aliens, slaying giant monsters, and… getting married?
Many games include an optional romance mechanic, where by your actions, your character can wind up in a relationship with another character. These relationships can have in-game effects, alter the story, or be completely trivial. And a common point of interest surrounding these games is which character’s you ended up with, but the idea of “dating” or “marrying” someone in a video game can sometimes seem… weird.
The first game I played with this kind of mechanic was Fire Emblem: Awakening, which sees your self-insert character (Robin from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) marrying another character based on their in-game support rank. Before I knew it, I accidentally ended up married to the character Sully, a character who, frankly, was not my type. I reset to my last save and changed my save data, not wanting to be “married” to someone I personally wasn’t interested in. Eventually, I felt it would make most narrative sense for Robin to marry Lucina, since both were main characters of the game. It wasn’t until another playthrough, when I was older, that I realized another character had a ton in common with the girls I had been interested in, so naturally, I married her.
But still, it felt a liiiiiiitle weird. These were fictional characters. Explaining this to my roommates at the time was a nightmare.
Lately, I’ve been playing Persona 5 Royal, a game which stars a bunch of high school students. Joker, the protagonist and self-insert character for the player, can wind up in a relationship with the different girl characters he meets. This idea of having a high school girl friend was cute at first… until you realize you can also end up romancing characters like a doctor, news reporter, or even your homeroom teacher. While these characters may be closer to the age of the person playing the game, it’s still going to be really off-putting in the context of the game.
I’m happily married, but still ended up becoming invested in a certain character’s arc and ended up in a relationship with them. The idea that this character, who is a member of your team, as the main character’s girlfriend seemed fitting, and she’s now a staple in my rotating team of characters I bring into dungeons, not because she’s always good in combat, but because it makes sense narratively that she would step up as a sort of secondary main character.
At the same time, I’m an adult married man. Kinda weird.
On the other hand, there are also games where this is the whole point. Dating sims are a popular genre of video game, and are entirely focused on this kind of thing. Games like Catherine: Full Body have their entire plot revolve around the main character’s romantic relationship. So maybe I’m the odd one out in thinking romancing characters is weird, and maybe I only think that because I’m currently in a real-world romantic relationship.
What do you think? Is romancing characters in video games strange to you? Or does it add to replay value and help the game seem more personal and immersive? What have been some of your experiences? Let us know in a comment, or hop on over to the Boss Rush Discord to join the conversation.
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The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, LeRon, Stephanie, Edward, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk their week in games, entertainment, and more while also bringing topics for conversation, answer listener and community questions, and cover major news and events happening in the video game industry. Watch The Boss Rush Podcast live on Wednesday Nights on Twitch at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT or on Friday mornings at 7AM ET on YouTube and podcast services everywhere. Thanks for listening! You can also get this episode one week early on Patreon.
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One thought on “Boss Rush Banter: Is Romancing Characters In Video Games Weird?”
Loved this banter. When I was younger, I thought it was the coolest thing to romance a character. As an older gamer, it feels a little gimicky now. That or it becomes more of a competitive thing lol. I guess it’s ultimately how each individual game executes it.