Warning: This Blog entry contains Video Game Spoilers.
Contrary to how I may appear to those who know me, I actually posses a lot of relationship experience. Some of this experience has been gained while juggling my current official relationship. It's hardly my fault though, with all these women throwing themselves at me. Or more, computer game developers throwing cyber-women at me. But as you can imagine, associating with these women, often through no choice of my own, has given me that deep and lasting kind of romantic wisdom that would normally take many years, drinks and shoe boxes to attain. I have always been a huge believer in being able to learn from the mistakes of others. And as none of these computer game romances have lasted (I was warned they never do), I feel I should share with you my experiences with the top 10 (or at least the most recent 10 that I remember) computer game lovers with the hope that readers may be able to more easily recognise warning signs and potential pitfalls in their love-lives. I would put all of these into ballad form, but I prefer to type it so it's harder for you to tell when I break into tears.
10. Madison Paige (Heavy Rain)-
The Attraction: Not much of that here, honestly. She has a weird facial structure that just doesn't do it for me. She also has a fairly sucky dress sense. She is quite strong in some ways, though, and she does a fine job of caring for your glass shard wounds and stumpy hands.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: She shows some highly manipulative traits. Combined with her intrinsic journalist attitudes, this makes her extremely hard to trust. She also didn't have much of a problem sleeping with me after meeting my increasingly bloodied self 3 or 4 times in 10 minute chunks, which makes her affections seem a little cheap. As much as she 'deserves happiness', I think I need to find somebody a little less Machiavellian.
9. Paula (Shadows of the Damned)-
The Attraction: This one's kinda tough, when I think about it. I guess the developers tried to add some kind of allure by having her wandering about in lingerie most of the time. Although, as she also doesn't have a head for about half the game, the sexualisation was a little lost on me. As for personality, there isn't much to show for that either. Although I do (Garcia) mention in the game that I was totally into her utterly insane behaviour. And hey, what's not to like about being able to explore the possibilities of a relationship with a crazy person within the safe confines of a video game?
Why it didn't/couldn't last: Call me crazy, but I've always found that different-coloured eyes thing more off putting than others. Oh, and did I mention the NO HEAD thing!? Missing limbs and the flesh falling off her bones... At first it was cute, but do you know how they say the thing that you find most adorable about your partner in a new relationship is the same thing that'll drive you nuts? Well, the novelty had worn off, and it was getting pretty damn upsetting. I figured I should save myself up for a woman who wore a full set of clothes and body parts.
8. Leliana (Dragon Age: Origins)-
The Attraction: Let's face it; the lonely trail to parts and trolls unknown can get pretty damn lonely. I'll be brutally honest and tell you all that our relationship was born out of weakness on my part, and I felt I needed some kind of antithesis to the dragon-slaying. She also has strange and mystical powers, such as keeping blood spatters symmetrical (actually, now that I think of it, lots of people in the world possessed this spell) and being able to have sex without removing normally inhibiting clothing. And she sung for me! After that I was totally under her spell.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: If any of you have heard her voice, you wouldn't be reading this section. Her voice is probably the least pleasant thing to listen to in the entire game. You'd think that this is an insignificant part of any relationship, but you'd be surprised how insurmountable it seems when everything they say, no matter how sweet, sounds like garbage. She also has this God-awful line about putting your eyelids in a jar. No thanks, gotta move on.
7. Bittercup (Fallout 3)-
The Attraction: It is no small comfort that love transcends all, and the nuclear holocaust itself completely fails to eliminate it. Unfortunately, it also seems to have failed the elimination of hipsters. But in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, one can't afford to be too choosy. Meet Bittercup, the attitude-charged ground zero girl who scrounges for chalk to pale herself. Once we got things fired up, every time I'd meet up with her she'd present a gift of some charred piece of shit, like cola or some ammunition. Which was highly useful, as my mother had died at the start of the game. Seriously, Freud would have a lot to say about this surrogate mother relationship. At least before being eaten by angry marauders. And honestly, feeding apocalypse survivors would probably be the first time psychoanalysis was actually useful.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: She has a rather lengthy romantic history with almost all the other inhabitants of Big Town, which makes me question her advances. Is she an intimacy junkie, or am I being kept like some kind of trophy husband? Before being eaten? She also shows no affection, which would get tiresome. But with the sudden sparsity of bathing facilities, I'd be surprised if any children are born in the future.
6. Hostesses (Yakuza 4)-
The Attraction: I figured I'd group all the hostesses from Yakuza 4 into number 6, as while they all have different personalities, they're all equally 2 dimensional. But in favour of them, they always seem to dress nicely, and compliment my appearance and taste in food and gambling venues.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: Alarm bells first started ringing when her view of me visibly improved as I gave her expensive food and jewellery, and how it would decline when I bought something that I felt suited my personality a little more. She wouldn't even let me eat fucking fried chicken! This showed her feelings for me were completely negotiable, and rendered them completely worthless to me. They also seemed to pursue me rather blindly, ignoring the fact that every time they said something like, “I really like you” or “I had a really great time tonight”, my character would deflect it with phrases like “Okay then” and “Bye.” And when the said 'I love you', my character said nothing! Perhaps they were referring to western Hollywood-ised concepts of romantic love that just bewildered my character. Also, 2 of the hostesses featured in the game actually went on to be porn stars. Not that it's really related, but it seems odd.
5. Elena Fisher (The Uncharted Series)-
The Attraction: Ah, Nathan Drake's on-again off-again snuggle cake. Again, not much of an attraction there. While she's quite driven, she constantly insults me and treats me with the closest thing to contempt that romance has to offer. Oh, that's right. Contempt. Not that I blame her, though. It's almost always a retort to some lame quip I've made, or a desperate attempt to humiliate me, as in these games, I'm an absolute dick. And no amount of stained shirts will change that.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: Even with the constant mistreatment on my part, what with the putting my career in front of her, she continually falls for me over and over again. This is certainly an issue with my character, but she clearly has some big self esteem issues to address.
4. Jeanette Voerman/Tourette (Vampire: The Masquerade- Bloodlines)-
The Attraction: Wow, it is SO much easier to like someone if they like you first, huh? I mean, an attractive girl? Talking to little ol' me? Lightning never strikes in the same place twice, so I knew I needed to move fast. And miniskirts and pigtails have a place in the heart of anyone who grew up during the nineties. Hell, even I'd look good in pigtails and a miniskirt! Or so I'm told.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: She's crazy. And dead. The latter point is one often ignored by a huge number of healthy, and more importantly, alive people, which worries me somewhat.
3. Ysolda (Skyrim)-
The Attraction: There is little not to like about Ysolda. She's open-minded, ambitious and pretty. She's so nice, in fact, that she'll make you a meal each day, give you a share of her hard-earned gold, and move house at a moment's notice. It's actually worrying just how giving and compliant she is. Guess gender roles are still pretty much doctrine in Skyrim.Why it didn't/couldn't last: Once again, the problem stems from my own character's flaws. She constantly reminded me of how much she loved me, and there was absolutely no way to reciprocate those feelings. I can't cook her a meal or share my loot. I couldn't even tell her I loved her just to make her feel better, or explain why we were moving for the 5th time in 3 days. I guess when it comes down to it, she deserves a better man than I.
2. Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2)-
The Attraction: While Alyx has a reputation for being one of the most likeable video game characters, she's one of the hardest ones to talk about, as there was no real initiation of a relationship. Not that I NEED it. I see the way you look at me, Alyx! The way you wink. The way you play with your hair. You even vault over things to show off. I know your game. You even showed me your dog. Last time I showed someone my dog, the bingo game ended and the police were called.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: Uhhh... things were going well, but she's started to go through some really rough family stuff. I haven't heard from her in quite a while.
And now, my all time favourite computer game girlf...!
1. Liara T'Soni (The Mass Effect Series)-
The Attraction: Oh wow, Liara! Where do I begin? That demotivational poster was right; Once you go blue, nothing else will do. She is highly intelligent, selfless, driven and confident. She's freckled and attractive, and I think we'd all be lying to ourselves if I we didn't say that blue skin is actually an improvement on boring old ordinary human colours. And after saving her life a gazillion times, she thanks me by melding her brain with mine! Oh sweet Liara! How do I love thee? I have written a poem for you, my blue-heaven milkshake.
L is for loveliness.
I is for Indigo, a colour kinda close to blue. Which you are.
A is for Aqua. Another colour kind of close to blue.
R is for Red; a colour that, when combined with blue, creates Indigo, a colour quite close to blue.
A is for Asari, which everybody likes, apparently.
Why it didn't/couldn't last: Two words. “Hello, Shepard.” To be fair, I'm not an XBox owner, so I may have missed out on some of the more important Liara dialogue from the first Mass Effect. However, there was so little to do with her in the second game that I wondered what the point was of including her at all. Downloadable content I had allowed me to further pursue her, and freeze the progress of our relationship in anticipation of the next game. Come Mass Effect 3, she's starts playing the friendship card with me after we both agree to continue our relationship. She told me what a 'good friend' I was, and when I wanted an ordinary conversation with her, she simply said “Hello, Shepard.” or “Let's talk later.” Sure, we hooked up later, but man! Talk about hard to get. And if that weren't a big enough relationship issue, try the collapse of galactic civilisation.
No, I'm sorry girls. It wasn't meant to be. These broken hearts are doomed to be nothing more than notches scratched into my game controller. Except you, Liara. Every time I see the Blue Man Group, or watch Thomas the Tank Engine, I'll think of you.