Stop in the name of love
In the last few weeks, I've committed to a relationship with a horned sassmaster in Dragon Age: Inquisition, witnessed a noir romance in Grim Fandango Remastered, and had flashbacks about impossible-to-obtain engagement masks thanks to Majora's Mask 3D. There's a lot of love in all that code, but like the grouchy curmudgeon I am, I sit here decrying youthful joy and pointing out that that's not how real relationships work, bah humbug!
My hyperbolic bitterness aside, video games really do give some terrible romantic advice, and I don't just mean the dating sims. Look long and hard enough, and you'll start to notice the same implicit, wink-and-a-nod suggestions about why common interests don't really matter and how buying love works great. Sure, everyone's different, so some of this advice might work on some people some of the time. But if you go out there thinking it's as sure-fire as Cupid's arrows? You're gonna be in for some serious heartbreak. Consider this Top 7 a warning. Trust me. I know all about bad love advice.
7. "The hard part is getting together."
In video games between all the village-avenging, death-defying, and mook-killing game characters deal with on a daily basis, there usually isn't much time to kindle a proper romance. Asking someone out is rough enough when all you have to worry about is whether you have something in your teeth and if the mustard stain really came out of your favorite shirt. When you can barely hold a conversation because the clock on this nuke is counting down way faster than it should, that's gonna throw off your game. But get that heartfelt love confession out between waves of howling enemies and, barring a heroic sacrifice during the last cutscene, you two are together for life.
But really while asking your crush out to coffee without forgetting what language is can be a challenge, there's a whole new set of puzzles waiting in relationship-land. You never see video game characters argue about where the money's going to come from for a new rebel hideout, or start a shouting match because one of them left the legendary weapons out in the rain again. Relationships take work, and it's certainly worth the effort to be with someone awesome. Just keep in mind that comparatively, getting the date is the equivalent of the level one boss.
6. "It doesn't matter if you have nothing in common."
In video games our lovebirds meet just as they kick off their adventures, and during their journey to the big bad's hideout/the promised land/MacGuffins "R" Us they fall for each other. You'll usually get a few cutscenes where they discuss their immediate futures, and Person A will definitely save Person B at least once. A little longer and then they start gazing into each other's eyes and shouting each other's names in moments of peril, and all that's left is to pick the wedding venue.
But really did a discussion of hobbies ever come up? How about beliefs and values not immediately important to the plot? Whether they like their eggs scrambled or sunny side up?? Yes, obviously games have to be economical with their time, and lovebirds exchanging recipes probably ends up on the cutting room floor. However, that often leaves us looking at a couple who have seemingly nothing in common, because they never actually talk. Can you name one thing that Squall and Rinoa share aside from a mission to save the world and intense social stupidity? No you cannot, because they don't have one. That might be fine for them, but real relationships usually last longer than 100 hours (usually), so follow this bit of wisdom and you're going to run out of stuff to talk about real fast.
5. "Your soul mate can be bought."
In video games you solve puzzles by putting item A into slot B, and relationships are basically puzzles, so it's really the same thing. I of course mean that item A is a gift and/or good deed of sorts, and slot B is the person that you love, and those gifts are the key to the puzzle of their heart (I know what you were thinking, pervert). The same way you feed coins into a vending machine and get health packs out, you feed kindness into your crush and will inevitably get love out. That's just economics.
But really while there are plenty of folks out there who dream of being showered with gifts and affection by a generous suitor, it isn't as ubiquitous as games make it look. In fact, some people don't like receiving gifts or being the focus of over-the-top good deeds, especially when the giver has never disclosed their true intentions and/or has said maybe five words to them in their entire life. The discomfort meter fills up even faster when the giver's looking for something unspoken in return, especially if they do it with a creepy smile while breathing really hard. Don't be that giver.
4. "You should flirt with everyone at the same time to make sure you end up with SOMEONE."
In video games when you have multiple romance options, you're probably going to have a favorite. You could focus all of your attention on them, trying to kindle a deep romance that will one day see you rocking on a digital porch together with wrinkly old face textures. But there is a chance they might not like you, meaning you'll end up romance-less, die alone, and most likely get eaten by your many cats. Best to play the field from the get-go and create as many romantic opportunities as possible, then pick and choose from the lovelorn fish you managed to hook.
But really the lady/gent you're carrying a torch for has peripheral vision, and can definitely see you flirting with someone else less than five feet away. Some games do a good job of showing the jealousy this creates - romantic rivals in Mass Effect throw legendary shade - but it usually doesn't get past sexy catfighting for exclusive right to play tonsil-hockey with you. You never see the love interest who knows they're too good for this shit and peaces out - in games anyway. You'll see a lot more of that in the real world.
3. "Tell them exactly what they want to hear."
In video games it can be nerve-wracking trying to court an RPG companion or dating sim cutie, because sometimes you just don't know what's going to get the best response. But don't worry - if you get stuck, there are plenty of walkthroughs and guides that tell you exactly what you need to do to raise your beloved's love meter. Whether it's what tasks you need to perform or how you should converse with them down to individual dialogue options, winning them over is a simple process as long as you follow the manual.
But really While romancing a certain so-and-so in Dragon Age, I had to choose between jailing or killing a criminal. I decided that jailing him would be the best call... and my darling love greatly disapproved. Goddamn! It may be easy to reload a save and change my mind in a game, but if I confronted a similarly tough ultimatum in real life, giving in wouldn't be good for either of us. Sure, it means less conflict now, but it makes me miserable, makes my beau feel like I'm never being genuine with them, and creates a relationship that can't handle even the slightest bit of blowback. And it will come. Oh boy will it ever come.
2. "Hitting on them while they're down is a great idea."
In video games something terrible's happened that's left your digital love interest utterly distraught. Their village burned down, their family's dead, their favorite character kicked it in Game of Thrones - whatever the specifics, some heart-shattering tragedy has occurred that's left them beside themselves. This is naturally the perfect time for you to console them. Yep. Console them. You know what I'm getting at, insert inappropriately obvious wink. By supporting them in their time of need, they see you truly care, and the two of you cement your relationship, which may or may not involve making out in a pond.
But really I'm not going to say this never works, because for some folks physical comfort really is the best medicine. Different strokes and all. But there's also a chance your love interest will find you coming onto them when they're at their lowest seriously annoying, if not unbelievably creepy. You really need to know someone before you make this move, and given it usually happens at the same time as the couple's first kiss? 'Courting disaster' sums it up nicely.
1. "If you do everything right, you'll achieve relationship victory."
In video games remember a couple slides ago, where I mentioned guides being the way to your beloved's heart? Well bring that one 'round again, because they're essential to getting everything right. It might be a rough road winning the heart of a picky potential partner, and you might have to do some things you aren't proud of (be prepared to hide more than one body). But with determination and meticulous attention to detail, you can guarantee you'll get the happy ending you so desperately want.
But really remember a couple slides ago, where I mentioned that guides don't work in real life? And a few slides before that, when I pointed out everything on this list is really bad advice - you get where I'm going with this. As rough as it might be, you can 'do everything right' in a bid to win another person's affections, and they might still turn you down because they don't feel the same. As heartbreaking as that can be, it doesn't make either of you bad people, or your connection any less valuable. And hey, it's a big 'ol world out there. Game characters may be stuck to the romantic paths coded for them, but you? Your love life is yours to generate.
Guess he wants to play a love game
Those are the Top 7 worst bits of gaming love advice and how disastrous it can be when theyre applied to the real world. All that finger-wagging might make me sound like a loveless sourpuss, but trust me when I say that isnt so! I mean, I definitely refer to Valentines as Singles Awareness Day, but when it comes to you having a happy love life, I want nothing more than for you to succeed - and avoid every one of these romantic snares with Pitfall!-like grace. Ever tried out one of these suggestions yourself? Got any stories of associated disaster, or did this all totally work for you and I have no idea what Im talking about? Go ahead and break hearts in the comments below.
Looking for more lovely features? Check out 14 game characters we (seriously) fell in love with and 15 ridiculously NSFW gaming ads (for totally unsexy stuff).