Typically, computer role-playing games have not been noted for their romantic aspects. However, once in awhile a game shows up that has a love interest in it.

One such was Baldur’s Gate 2, where a male character could become romantically involved with one of two female NPCs.

More recently, a male character could have a romance of sorts with Lady Aribeth in Neverwinter Nights.

You’ll have noticed that the emphasis in both games was on a male player-character interacting with a female NPC. That isn’t just because most designers are male.

The surprising fact is that requests for in-game romance come mainly from male players. On the boards, it’s usually the guys who ask if the upcoming game will have a romance option in it.

Now I find that a little odd. What is the attraction of romance in a CRPG? One can see that happening in a live, paper-and-pencil game, where both are real people.

In a CRPG, however, one participant in the romance is a virtual creation, pre-scripted, and not a real person at all.

What does a human player get out of flirting with a make-believe one? What satisfaction can there be in that?

Does it signify frustration with real-life romance? Is it a safety factor, since the human player won’t be heartbroken if things turn sour? Or, since the romance is scripted, is the attraction the ability to manipulate conversations to obtain the desired result?

For that matter, does romance really belong in a CRPG? Is it meant to add an extra dimension of “reality”? To give (or supposedly give) more scope to role-playing? Or is it just a little frill to add a bit of spice to the game?

So far, what’s been done in the romance line has been pretty shallow. That can’t be helped. Scripting a full-blown romance would be a complex undertaking in a product where love interest is very much secondary to the main action. It would be even more so if multiple choices were presented, and game programming is complicated enough these days.

With that in mind, why bother with romance at all?miniscorp