Image Credit: Bethesda
Forgot password
Enter the email address you used when you joined and we'll send you instructions to reset your password.
If you used Apple or Google to create your account, this process will create a password for your existing account.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Reset password instructions sent. If you have an account with us, you will receive an email within a few minutes.
Something went wrong. Try again or contact support if the problem persists.

Do People Actually Bother With Relationships in Video Games?

Everyone keeps talking about virtual romances in video games, but does anyone really put a premium on such content?
This article is over 10 years old and may contain outdated information

This is one thing I’ve never understood.

Recommended Videos

Why do people care about pursuing virtual (aka fake) relationships in video games with virtual (aka fake) characters? I understand the premise, of course: You want an authentic, immersive atmosphere in which the characters act very much like humans. The more realistic those actions are, the more immersed you will become…theoretically.

I also know that it adds a certain social dimension to any adventure, which some gamers may welcome and even embrace. There’s something to be said for the expansion of interactive entertainment beyond the realm of action. And if done correctly, romances in which players actually participate can be quite rewarding.

I get all that. I just don’t get why it’s such a big deal.

Romance just doesn’t translate well to the video game world

There are certain subjects that simply aren’t as effective in the world of video games. One of these is intricate, intimate relationships. In all honesty, what’s fun about selecting what to say to someone? What would be entertaining about controlling the arms and hands of a virtual character during the act of love (which, I assume, is the next logical step)? The reason why there’s so much action in video games should be obvious: Gaming is an action-oriented medium. We press buttons to make things happen and typically, we want those things to be unavailable to us in reality.

I play games because it’s fun to enjoy fantasy worlds, and it’s also enjoyable to participate in activities that simply wouldn’t be possible in the real world. Romance, last I checked, is readily available – and quite necessary – outside my door. On top of which, the gap between a virtual relationship and a real one is just so pronounced, more so than even the gap between racing cars on a virtual racetrack and driving down the road, for example, that it’s laughable.

From a psychological perspective, one wonders…

I’m not about to say that if you’re spending a lot of time trying to forge a relationship in a virtual world, this automatically means you’re having trouble in that same activity in the real world. I’m also not going to claim that all gamers are socially awkward misfits and as such, they’re more interested in the idea of virtual relationships than other people. These are outdated beliefs that don’t reflect the progress this industry has made over the years.

At the same time, I do believe there’s a psychological element to the question at hand. I have noticed that those who tend to indulge more in virtual romances, those who care more about which types of relationships are allowed, and what you can do in those relationships, don’t have a romantic relationship in reality. Again, this is merely my personal experience, so I’m not claiming gospel here. But on the flip side, it’s interesting to note that those I know who are married, or who are in a committed relationship, just couldn’t possibly care less about the romantic angle(s) in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Like I say, entirely anecdotal but still worth noting.

Forgive me, but I’d rather slay dragons than buy gifts

Wooing in the virtual world feels tedious and empty to me. In all honesty, I think it feels tedious and empty to many who have experienced the real thing. If I’m playing a game like Inquisition, I just can’t imagine wasting my precious few hours trying to convince another character to sleep with mine. That’s hardly why I’m playing that game and no, it doesn’t really do much to enhance the overall experience. It just doesn’t do anything for me and due to its inherent limitations, it’s…it’s…boring.

For the record, I appreciate great sentiment. I love well-written stories of romance (and when I say this, I don’t refer to trashy romance novels). But when it comes to the video game medium, I just don’t think it fits. At least, not from the interactive perspective; you can always write a great romance story and I’d appreciate it, but I have no interest in controlling it.

GameSkinny is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Fathoms_4209
A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.