This console generation has given us some interesting things. Increasingly branching storylines, downloadable content, and an unprecedented amount of customization within games. However, within all these options and user-generated content, there has been a new focus on characters' love lives. BioWare in particular has made particular strides in this area. Wooing characters has become a huge component of games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, and playing the dating game has become an almost literal expression in today's industry. Sometimes, you don't have a choice but to date other characters. But if you do have a choice, maybe you should stay away from dating people in video games. And here are five reasons why.
You'll Lose Your Focus
Much like in real life, dating in video games clouds your focus. Let's look at one of the biggest games out there with dating possibility: The Sims. In the latest iteration of the Sims, you have unparalleled power to do, create, and share. However, if you focus on trying to get your neighbor's affection, you'll waste your character's energy and time (two things that are extremely valuable in the world of The Sims) and instead of getting that career, decorating your house, or upgrading your surroundings, you'll end up with a love interest and possibly some kids. Is it really worth it?
Cons Outweigh Benefits
You have to consider what else comes with dating in games. The Fable series is a good example of dating leading to some pretty sticky results. In fact, it can be downright dangerous to your health, as playing the field too much will net you an unfortunately high number of venereal diseases. Sure, the game isn't too graphic about what exactly happens here, but just seeing that depressing stat on your roster should be enough to keep you out of the dating game, instead focusing on saving Albion once more.
You Could be Leveling Up Instead
I'd venture to say that more than 90% of games where dating is a possibility are RPGs, and massive ones at that. When you've got games that have endless quests, unlockable areas, and things to discover, you shouldn't make dating some person your main goal. You've got a world in turmoil and plenty of skills to unlock and improve before you can save it. Why would you focus in on something as small as finding a significant other? If you gave me the choice between finding a husband in Skyrim or learning a new Dragon Shout, I think I'd go with the latter.
NPC Love Interests Aren't Very Fun Anyway
A lot of people will tell you that a dating element in a game is fun because it mirrors real life. No one wants to go through life alone, no matter what their circumstance. To some degree, it is good that games give players this true-to-life-option. However, everything that makes relationships enjoyable in real life is completely absent in video games: meaningful conversations, planned activities together, shared experiences, and so on. The best you'll get out of your NPC love interest is a few token words, maybe some repetitive nagging, and, depending on the game, the opportunity to participate in a few side missions. It doesn't exactly sound all that compelling if you ask me.
It's a Trap!
Say what you will about love in real life, but in games, pursuing romantic interests is just a glorified time waster. So-called "big" games need to push the envelope in terms of hours you can spend with them. Instead of adding meaningful dialogued quests and missions, it's a lot simpler to add on a love interest capability that doesn't do much for the actual story or gameplay, but merely capture gamers' attention for a brief period. I'm not saying that you shouldn't participate in love interest side missions or capabilities, but you will most likely end up putting a lot more effort into them than you might realize, and for very little reward.
Love is a complicated thing in real life, and this holds true in video games as well. Saying the right thing, being in the right place, and taking on superfluous missions are all things that you'll have to do in a game to win another's affections that have bases in reality. However, the difference is that life can hand you romantic situations that you have no control over. In games, you have the controller, and you can just say no. So get back to killing dragons, saving the universe, and busting up the bad guys. In the world of video games, you're the hero, and heroes don't have time for silly diversions like dating!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: February 24, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*