Why do games and Hollywood portray different sexualities?

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

This blog post is way too long, but it does raise an interesting question. Hollywood tends to focus on conventional sexuality, mostly the struggle to establish a monogamous relationship between 2 heterosexual people, though lately there has been more portrayals of homosexuality. There are also portrayals of promiscuity, but never as anything positive. However, the gaming industry is more comfortable with scenarios that involve polyamorous relationships. Why do the 2 industries portray sexuality so differently?

On top of forming friendships and romances, you also have to make sure your character has a part-time job and does extracurricular activities—you know, so you can have a well-rounded life—and you also have to clear dungeons and save the world. No biggie, but choices must be made. I was so dedicated to making it work, I made a chart that detailed the perfect schedule in which I managed to keep everyone happy. I don’t even keep a planner in real life, but that’s how important having a billion girlfriends was to me, apparently. PRIORITIES. P

The thing about relationships in Persona 4 is that, although it lets you romance everyone of the opposite sex, all the characters act as if you’re exclusive with them—as if they’re your one and only true love. That dishonest premise kind of makes you an asshole if you choose to not remain true to a character. Thing is, even if you’re not inclined toward non-monogamy, many of us do have the compulsion to see everything we can while playing a game. Why replay a 70+ hour game to see the different romances available to you when you can get them all at once, even though the choice is kind of gross? P

In Persona 3, by contrast, it wasn’t so easy to swing a ridiculously active love life. Once you fully romanced a character, if they ever found out about someone else, the character would get mad at you. You’d kind of have to beg and promise you’d be a better partner to get them back. Characters could find out you were cheating on them in Persona 4, but all it meant was some kind of silly scenes where a girlfriend would start bickering with another girlfriend. Despite these scenes, your relationship with either girl was never impacted—a far cry from the intense conversations you might have with a partner about their feelings about another partner in real life.P

Games like to make you choose a single partner, unfortunately.P

More often, though, games like to make you choose a single partner. You pair characters together for long enough in Fire Emblem: Awakening, for example, and they can get married—which closes them off from any other relationships with other people. It’s kind of a bummer, since the romance portions are the best parts of the game if you ask me.P

Sometimes, you can work through these sorts of limitations: technically you’re not supposed to be able to fully romance more than one character in franchises like Mass Effect and Dragon Age in a single playthrough. Not without doing some horribly convoluted stuff first, though—like making sure you do quests in a certain order, making sure you talk to people at very specific times and you answer in very specific ways. I’m not even sure you’re supposed to be able to have, say, both Morrigan and Lelianna completely in love with you in Dragon Age, but there is a way to do it! P

It would be nice to not have to consult a FAQ to figure out how to honestly and respectfully romance more than one character in a way that seems more mature than the gross, underdeveloped fantasies of a 13 year old boy. This isn’t a call for the catering of a small minority of people who have a certain lifestyle, to be clear. It’s just that stuff outside of non-monogamy can present interesting situations for people to safely explore, and if games really pride themselves in interactivity, providing another choice for someone can only be a boon, right? And lets not pretend like fandoms on Tumblr don’t already make ridiculous saucy love triangles/octagons/pentagons/etc among characters.P

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