They Will Be Together, So Help Me God: Romance & Shipping In Video Games

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Games have people, often two people who get along. Maybe they are just really good friends or maybe something is there, a little spark you see that suggests more than a platonic relationship. Then of course, maybe you are wrong, that the entire built up relationship you desire and see is simply your mind seeing what you want to see. I don’t go so far as to say they are one thing or another but damn if I don’t know who I want with who and why. Damn it all, I ship characters. I do it because I like many people adore romance and relationships, especially in video games with such a presence in the story as the main character or what have you.

I truly do believe the complex nature among many other things of romantic relationships is an allure that snags many, many people. I don’t know what possesses me to do it sometimes, other times I often have a concrete reason to completely ignore the in universe pairing because IT IS MY STORY DAMMIT. One such situation was the story of Tales Of Graces (I’ve brought up Tales games a lot frankly, it is truly the strongest narrative and emotive experience I had had recently) with the main character and his childhood friend. Due to circumstances including thinking his actions killed a friend of only a few days and injured others, the main character sets off to an academy to learn how to fight and defend himself, most importantly those he cares about. Skip to 7 years down the line and the friend visits him to give him a message that was important for reasons I cannot recall. the main point is that she visits and is kind of distant as she is upset he left despite saying he wouldn’t go after the accident. A rather fair enough point if I do say so myself, it was clear this was something he had to do but leaving her for 7 years is rather upsetting. I can understand all this, yet there is one moment that bugs the ever loving hell out of me: she complains he never came to visit when he is only graduating now from an extensive 7 years of gruelling training and learning. You have travelled the distance from this academy to your house before the time skip, it is a 20 minute mild jog at best and a boat ride, she could have very easily come there to visit if she wanted to and she didn’t. 7 years and you never went to visit the very busy main character you kinda have a crush on despite being hilariously close to him. I must be missing something as that scene not only bugged me, it was a moment to hold a grudge over for me.

Why is all that important? Why because I feel this reflects not only my idea of good pairings in the aspect of romantic relationships but also how I view people in the prospect of a romantic relationship. I found one thing that I could not let go and it was a grudge from start to finish, I had her in the party sure but that was for practical reasons and nothing else, every instance she opened her mouth I wanted to push her down a rocky hill. I got stat boost items that benefited her the most…and gave it to MY preferred pairing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not gonna trash someone because they aren’t the pairing I like, I would have preferred my choice but still not feel too bad about the games defined one. I will never understand the sinister magnification of every minor flaw in a character you don’t like to make your pair look like the only reasonable choice, I could never go that far. I still right now, as I am typing this very post, am amused by just how hard I cracked down on one event for the entire game. Objectively she wasn’t a very nice character anyway and everybody watching me play wasn’t a fan of her personality in the slightest, yet that one moment that flabbergasted my mind became a focal point of my distress. I can be tolerant of the small issues but the 7 years and “it is all main characters fault” push just disagreed with me at my core, I am aware that I am the kind of person to really hold onto that one moment that just really really frustrated me, the big difference is with the game it was ignored and I could never talk about it. Given the chance I would have stepped in and taken her to the hold with everything wrong with the mindset she held.

I’d done something similar but not as strongly in my most recent outing in the Tales series, Tales Of Xillia. She was the childhood friend with the crush since a young age too, one major difference however was the game threw any chance she might have under a bus, several buses in fact. She wasn’t an effective teammate in battle and I didn’t like her personality, I even ignored her when stat boosting items came my way yet I never did it out of spite. Graces childhood friend was actually one of the strongest endgame characters and I would never have known unless I looked it up as I neutered her every chance of growing stronger. Xillia was just a character who I had less priority over, similar events but the context changed the mindset of how I approached it and my feelings towards the characters presence. Luckily Xillia didn’t have anyone I could really ship and instead threw in the sweet girl Elize I mentioned in a past post that I defended and had in my mind as my prime motivator for much of the game. Some dudes mother is dead? Busy. Elize might remember where her parents are? FUCK EVERYTHING, number one priority as I dash past everything.

I suppose what I’m trying to get at is that romance and character shipping really changes how much investment we have in a game, I could just play a game for the gamey parts of a single sex cast or a group of characters I have no interest in. A interesting pairing or romantic undertones? I don’t care how bad this section is or how infuriating this side mission is, there is love on the line here! I approach my game completely differently when I can play cupid for even a little bit, some of the resounding elements of various media after numerous years are the still going feuds about what characters go with who the best. Shiny graphics don’t sell me nearly as much as a chance to keep pushing two characters together and praying for the best, I love to play matchmaker far more than anything. Even creating my own relationships with my blank slate or fully customized character isn’t nearly as fun, it has to have a sense of being the God figure rather than personal. Maybe I like the power, the fun of watching two people try and hide feelings that aren’t practical to have in the current situation. Whatever the cause may be for my love of it, romance and character shipping is bloody fantastic.

What characters do you often put together for the hell of it? Anything really sell you on the potential to be cupid, even in an amusing way? Have you ever really been someone into romance or does the whole thing just turn you away? Thanks for the read and see you all later.

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  1. #1 by theimpassionedcynic on December 25, 2014 - 11:21 pm

    “Luckily Xillia didn’t have anyone I could really ship and instead threw in the sweet girl Elize I mentioned in a past post that I defended and had in my mind as my prime motivator for much of the game. Some dudes mother is dead? Busy. Elize might remember where her parents are? FUCK EVERYTHING, number one priority as I dash past everything.”

    That part made me cackle.

    I’m not a “shipper” (I hate a friend of mine for sending me shipping fanfics of Hope and Lightning, aka Hoperai…ugh) but I do understand where you’re coming from. When a game forces romance I usually just zone out because most games don’t really pull it off (although the romantic undertones for OG Milla and Jude were pretty charming), which is why leaving it to the imagination of the player is the best thing to do.

    Interestingly enough the same works for basically every genre and medium.

    Like

  2. #2 by shipwreckshark on December 13, 2014 - 4:22 am

    Kitana and Liu King

    Like

  3. #3 by Fur on December 7, 2014 - 1:09 pm

    made*

    Like

  4. #4 by Fur on December 7, 2014 - 1:09 pm

    I think love/romance is hardly ever done well in games. As far as shipping goes though I’ve always thought Mitsuru & Akihiko would have make a nice pair [Persona 3].

    Like

    • #5 by Prof.mcstevie on December 8, 2014 - 5:21 am

      I feel like technical limitations ruin the more basic parts of a relationship like emotive response and lots of physical contact that doesn’t look…off putting.

      Like

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