Could relationships be the next direction in video games?
Today I had conversations about video game design, women in tech, and the way dating sites work. And I read an article about “romance” in video games, which somehow converged into that one question in my mind.
So far games have improved in terms of graphics, art, representation of the laws of physics, completeness (eg. entire worlds rather than limited sections called “levels”), character complexity, and non-player character (NPC) behaviour. Definitely one of the directions many game designers are trying to pursue is better storytelling and plot, which means better character development and interactions.
What’s more integral to character development and plot than the relationships between characters? Especially in the case of romance. Relationships are what make people keep watching TV shows and care about the characters in books.
They’re also one of the hardest things for a computer to fake.
Perhaps this could also be an area that would particularly benefit from more female involvement in game design, not just because of the stereotypical male tendency to underemphasize the importance of relationships, but also because it might round out the role of women in game romances to more than just objects of desire. It might ensure that romance is seen from a woman’s perspective as well, meaning that the woman is the subject, not the object.
Ultimately the question is how easily it’s possible to pass the uncanny valley of romance, to program a game’s NPC’s to be able to build relationships the way people do.
- Does romance enhance video games? http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/02/13/face-off-romance-options/
- The uncanny valley: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/gaming/2004/06/the_undead_zone.html