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I Can Tell That We Aren't Gonna Be Friends - Destructoid


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So here's me,

My real name is Max and I'm a diehard Browncoat. I also have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Wars universe left over from a childhood obsession, as well as an actual Star Wars encyclopedia, but that's another matter.

I like to sleep, but keep odd hours, I like food A LOT, I like TV on occasion, I'm not a huge fan of any music except symphonic, and apparently I have bad music taste, even at 20 I can barely grow enough facial hair to justify shaving more than twice a week, I love to write, I kinda read, I hate a couple of the people in my J-school program, HBO is perfect, LOST is actually alright, I'm a total gearhead, Avatar was a terrible movie but an incredible experience, How to Train Your Dragon was very, VERY awesome, and all I want at this moment is a 1:1 stuffed Appa.

Guess what this last paragraph used to be for? My two cents on the games/art debate. Guess what's here now? NOTHING, and that's the way I likes it.

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So here's the deal,

I was reminiscing recently about some of my favourite posts over the past couple months, and one that I ended up landing on was Beyamor's post about holding hands in games (I'd link it, but it's 4 in the morning, and this post needs publishing!). It got me thinking about how we could use more realistic situations in our games.

I've noticed something altogether odd in video games of late. This major dissonance with real life that they seem to have, at least in terms of the major narrative, is that we basically only experience things in extremes. There are no minor setbacks for the player, the protagonist is never kinda angry or sorta motivated. Their task is always righteous, their actions swift and deadly, and their emotions off the charts.

There is no medium ground, the characters are usually feeling one of three things, devastation, elation, or complete confusion. In combat it's more concentration than anything else, but that's not really an emotion.

Anyway, the point is that this has made its way into the relationships that the protagonist takes part in, especially with the opposite sex, and this is really the main point of this post. I want a girl friend. Not a girlfriend, a girl friend, and they seem to be few and far between.

I guess this kinda stems from a recent revelation in my own life, in that with age has come an ability to have completely platonic relationships with women. It used to be that when I spent any particular amount of time with a girl, it was because I had some romantic interest in her, and I generally didn't spend a lot of time with girls that I wasn't into. But nowadays I'm finding myself more and more able to be satisfied with a strong friendship in stead, and I now want this in my games.

It seems that games fall prey to the same affliction I did as a child, in that any time the protagonist spends any amount of time with a member of the opposite sex, the end goal is a relationship of some kind, be it simply sex or a more meaningful long-term relationship.

One of the reasons I've come to dislike this phenomena is that firstly I find it a little sexist towards both men and women. It says that basically all men ever want is to get in a girl's pants, and that that's all a women can ever be to a man.

I also find that it leads to poor decisions on my part, when given them. For example in Mass Effect, I was a borderline xenophobe simply because I knew that there was a sex scene in the game, and I wanted to impress Ashley. I also made some decisions that were very clearly wrong ones just to get on her good side, for example, I killed the Rachni Queen on Noveria. I want to say bros before hos, but that's not even it, it's should be basic common sense before hos.

Just like in real life, whenever romance is brought in, the situation instantly becomes more complicated. My decisions are very much altered by what I think the woman I'm chasing wants, and it's unfortunate that the reason is not because I truly value their opinion like I would if they were simply a close friend, rather it's because I'm just dying to find a way to fit my Gyarados into her Victreebell.

I would much rather be swayed to a point of view by respect for that opinion or by a convincing argument than being lackadaisically and invariably led to that point of view by my libido.

Without the constantly overbearing sense of "what would she think about that?" or "am I reading her signals right?" that come with any budding relationship, I would also be able to relax much more when with this female companion. I wouldn't be constantly worried if I was going to offend her, I wouldn't have to tread carefully around the subject of my interest in her, and ultimately and most importantly, I could simply relax. I could think of her as a friend, nothing more. And in games, this would be a subtle but effective change. Whenever Ashley was around, I would always be a little bit stressed, a little wary of all my actions, and it made for an ultimately tense gameplay experience that could be completely avoided if Ash and I were just friends.

The worst part is that this kind of relationship could be so rewarding in a game; I think the relationship that Aang had with Toph in The Last Airbender was one of my favourites in the show, and there was no romantic interest there whatsoever. They just enjoyed each others' company, and learned from each others' differing viewpoints.

That's another reason I definitely want more girl friends. I'm very sick of the standard meatheaded sidekick validating my every action with complete agreement and loyalty. Having a woman's input without the constriction and slight dishonesty that come with an attempt at a relationship would be very refreshing. Like it or not, men and women are different in some ways, and being able to draw on the different experiences and viewpoints that stereotypically come with being a woman would be a welcome change when compared to the ever-present enabler role that many male companions play.

Most of all though, I want a girl friend simply because I find them to be more intelligent than men in general, more rational, at least when not intentionally designed differently. This is not me pandering to women, I genuinely believe that a strong woman is a better addition to a video game team than a strong man, if only because having two complementary skill sets is better than having two identical ones. But it's more than that. I think that women are much more prone to be rational than men. The stereotypical male companion in a game is a gung-ho "let's fuckin kill these guys" kind of guy, but the woman characters you see tend to be more able to assess a situation and think before they act.

Maybe it's just because I am truly tired of all the stock characters that seem to cycle through the games I play, and a woman that's not a love interest would be a refresher, maybe it's the idea that we could be more, but are satisfied and happy where we are, and maybe it's me projecting my tastes onto games, but I think there's a large wealth of untapped depth in the "girl friend" in games, and I would definitely like to see it tapped - wait, shit...

~ Om nom nom nom...

PS In case text didn't make it clear, as it often seems to, last sentence was more an attempt at a witty end to the post as opposed to one of those things where I unravel my own argument at the end and the post becomes a fuck you to the reader. It was not the latter
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