Second only to the controversy caused by the game’s supposedly wonky animations, most of the talk surrounding Mass Effect Andromeda has been about its romances. Fans were speculating on who they could get in the sack (and who they could live happily ever after with) since even before BioWare’s sci-fi RPG was released. But is it all down to animated love scenes that show the characters doin’ it? Or, on an emotional level, is it something deeper?
To put it nicely, few games are very good at portraying love scenes. Even when games have a decent portrayal of individual bodies; make those bodies interact and you end up with one seriously awkward monstrosity. It’s something that many gamers, fueled by thirst, have taken it upon themselves to fix by making their own pornography including characters from games.
While there’s also the additional factor of curiosity in showing how an alien species might get down, when fan creations and actual porn do it better than the developers themselves and there are NSFW games that focus entirely on sexual content, it’s hard to argue that gamers are only playing for just that. Instead, I suppose that it’s the entire package. Fans are playing not just to get down and dirty but for all of the stuff that leads up to it. It’s why, for three Mass Effect games, so many of us were totally fine with checking up on our main love interest after every single mission just to progress through the romance storyline.
One Mass Effect fan I spoke to for this piece specifically described romance in the games as “self insert.” As in, it lets them (and other players) believe that they really are embarking on epic romances, cute flirtations and heartwarming gestures and all, with these characters. Love scenes are just a boner-worthy bonus.
This is also why fans have pulled out their stopwatches and timed exactly how much dialogue they get with each of Mass Effect Andromeda’s love interests and why gay fans, upset by a lack of love interests, dialogue and fade-to-black love scenes, feel so hard done by.
What this tells us, more than anything, is that gamers are eager for better relationship writing in games. Mass Effect Andromeda isn’t the only example of this as the existence of fan fiction for games like Overwatch and even the Dragon Age series (a set of BioWare games that also allow players to romance NPCs) shows that fans wish developers would do a little better when it comes to writing love and stuff.
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