Reporting Luke McKinney
Video games are worse at human love than the Alien: they’re both silicon-based, too horribly direct for romance, and the results are hideously painful. And at least the Alien can claim it got to suck on someone’s face for a while.
Just like every machine to discover love, only to find it’s something they can never do, our consoles have become murderously jealous. (Seriously, movie scientists: giving your robot emotions is like giving it a knife, genitals, and then a kick in those genitals. Except robots with genitals would be actually useful.) These games might not understand human love but they’re very good at targeting and destroying human-sized targets, and these are the results. Games which will do more damage to your relationship than playing How To Get Away With Cheating: Bestiality Edition in front of your partner.
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect is famous for space-romance, defined by Captain Kirk as “they have differently colored skin and want to sleep with you after three sentences.” FOX News made the game famous for being more perverted than gay farm animal coprophilia, but that’s mostly BS. It was such a ridiculous bunch of old people venting encrusted frustrations through their mouths because other orifices had cobwebbed over, even disbarred lawyer and still-barred crackpot Jack Thompson said their claims were insane. And insane video game claims are his specialty.
Mass Effect’s dialog was warm and fun, and it says something about gaming when the most believable romantic characters are space lizards or have tentacles for hair. Though at least BioWare admit that their human video game women really are ridiculously perfected genetic engineering experiments.
But this understanding romance only feeds the game’s jealousy, which is why BioWare are releasing the free demo for Mass Effect 3 on Valentine’s Day. That can’t be a coincidence. That’s them knowing it’s possible to 100% complete Baldur’s Gate or have other humans in your life, but not both. It’s the final part of one of the most compelling stories in modern gaming, for free, and they know you’ve got only one night to play it before the internet spoils everything for you, then spoils it harder by making meme graphics the following week.
When girlfriends see their guy playing games instead of taking them out, they’ll get upset, but when they see that same guy is trying to choose the best romantic option in the game he’d better hope he can still play with a chair through his head.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
I once swore never to make a “Mario doesn’t get laid” joke, but that was before the sonofabitch tried to make me celibate as well. New Super Mario Bros. Wii isn’t a multiplayer platformer, it’s an experiment by bitter eunuch scientists to find how long it takes frustration to destroy love. I know there are gamer girls out there who could jam a minigun up my ass and pull the trigger until it clicks, but in my experience 100% of girlfriends suck at games. And if you try to warn them about the Goomba they’re slowly walking towards, that just makes it your fault when they find out headbutting it still doesn’t work the tenth time they try.
You’re trying to run your flagpole up on a new level but can’t because you’re going out with someone — it’s understandable as a terrible euphemism for sleeping around, but insanely frustrating as a literal description. What’s worse is Nintendo knows exactly how good you and your girl are at games. That’s why the Mario Galaxy games have “girlfriend mode”, where a second player can feel that they’re helping without getting in the way. True, a really vindictive lady could aim the star at Mario and make him jump to his death, but if girlfriends could aim that well, God would have trusted them with exterior genitals.
This means New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a true retro game: not just in the 2D platformer feel, but because they bring your life back to 1985 when you were either young enough to work a joypad or old enough to work other people’s genitals, but never both.
The Nintendo DS should have been the lone romantic console, as it’s the only one which encourages you to go outside and play with new people. Unfortunately the only things Ubisoft know about romance are bitter memory and a caricature of a stand-up comic from the ’50s. They built Sprung, which is a dating game in the same way being a sewage worker is a pet-owning game: the worst things about the experience turned up to infinity.
The game is every idiot’s idea of the problems of dating. It’s endless, random dialog choices with women who display less logic than the Joker and react less stably when you get it wrong. The conversation trees have more instant game-ending points than every spike in Mega Man put together, and are even less enjoyable to experience. And because it’s on the DS, there’s a load of pointless fiddling with something on the lower half just to get things to happen – you’d swear the entire development team had only had one date between them. But she was from Canada, you wouldn’t know her.
Grand Theft Auto’s “Hot Coffee”
The “Hot Coffee” mode could be accessed in Grand Theft Auto, unlocking hot sex action in a game, assuming you didn’t mind putting in a hundred times as much work as it would take to find real porn on the same computer equipment. It would be faster to convince a real nurse to have sex with you.
“Hot Coffee” was amazingly realistic sex for the sort of person who had complained about it: because for people that old and out of touch (with genitals), young sex really is a horrible travesty requiring specialized terms and criminal activity. When you’ve reached the point where you need special electrical equipment to get excited about sex, you’re not a tender young flower corrupted by evil video games. You’re hoping the farmer doesn’t notice his sheep are missing until after you and the portable generator run out of juice.
The most unromantic part of the whole mess isn’t even running people over on the way to a date, which could at least be seen as working to impress her, or perhaps repainting your car a dashing red. It’s how the sex’s victory condition is “pump” and “pump faster”, with a single “excitation” meter indicating how far along your lady friend is. There are obviously multiple physical problems involved in screwing with a PlayStation controller, but the most obvious is measuring sexual performance by endurance and frequency. That’s how you rate industrial jackhammers, not genitals, and if you’re measuring all your lady’s output as just one variable, that variable is “her pretending to be happy so you’ll stop.”
Dragon Age: Origins
Mass Effect 3 might be trying to break up existing relationships, but Dragon Age: Origins is poisoning the very concept. In the first part of the game you escape your home, find out you have the chance to become an independent and cool hero, then meet a woman. And the way the game plays it, you should have heard a “Dun dun dunnn!” or a shark playing a cello when that happened. Morrigan spends the rest of the game teaching you that women are screeching harpies who can only be mollified by the most expensive trinkets, but even the rarest golden demon jewelry will be totally undone if you say just one wrong word.
She punishes you when you spend time with other people, hates your friends, comes up with a convoluted plot to get pregnant and then, no matter what you do, leaves your ass in the dirt. If you want to even try to see her again you have to pay (for the “Witch Hunt” downloadable content, and that name alone tells you more about screwed-up relationships with women than the works of Sigmund Freud.)
Most bitter ex-boyfriends get drunk, talk to people, or go on the pull — BioWare’s scriptwriters make a bestselling videogame.
Luke McKinney is a freelance writer and the Man Cave’s Chief Scientist; his most recent discovery was how to get paid for drinking and playing video games. Follow his research on his tumblr and website.