October 5, 2008 4:00 PM |
[The Aberrant Gamer is is a biweekly, sometimes NSFW column by Leigh Alexander, dedicated to the kinks and quirks we gamers tend to keep under our hats – those predilections and peccadilloes less commonly discussed in conventional media.]
Ah, the much-lauded Choice in Games. We can analyze and discuss until we’re blue in the face those titles that have allowed us to make meaningful decisions, and we can write entire essays in search of the elusive game that lets us make the kinds of decisions we’d really like to make in our fantasy lives.
But there is perhaps no choice more important than the selection of our lifelong mate – and there are quite a few games that let us evaluate, elect and consummate our decision of partner. Not only are PC dating sims (sexual or otherwise) a surprisingly broad genre, numerous adventure games have incorporated pair-up mechanics for their protagonists.
Dating sim mechanics really shine when they’re used to enhance the sense of humanity in otherwise unemotional titles. The long-running Natsume-published Harvest Moon series, for example, adds partner selection and marriage to place a sense of real life alongside what’s largely a farming/raising and resource management sim; Natsume’s latest offering, the Cave-developed Princess Debut, places dating sim elements alongside a rhythm game in a young maiden’s quest to get ready for the glamorous ball.
So you certainly don’t need to be a hentai game fan to be familiar with dating sim elements. In fact, after even only a little bit of exposure, you may notice a few repetitive archetypes.
…Okay, more than a few.
Remember when we rounded up some of the most common archetypes of eroge games? Well, dating sims – and games containing elements of them – are a bit like that, even though they’re non-sexual. Of course, it’s somewhat different, too – after all, you as player are considering a lifelong love partner for your protagonist, in whom you’ve already invested a lot of gameplay hours, as opposed to being a passive observer at a buffet of often-clichéd sexual fantasies.
But still, the options you have available are likely to be generally predictable once you’ve played a few of them. And because of that, you’re likely to find that you often gravitate toward the same preferred type as your character’s wife or husband.
So what does your dating sim archetype of choice say about you? Measure yourself a hefty dose of salt, plant your tongue firmly in your cheek, and hit the jump.
Categories: Column: The Aberrant Gamer