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Digital Romance

Posted by Christina Harlin
Some of our Casa authors have recently shared their hobbies with us, so today I will share mine. I play computer games. I’ve been avidly computer gaming since 1991 when I first encountered Sierra’s Kings Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella and the raucous Leisure Suit Larry. Over the past 17 years I have played about 150 games, many until the disk was too scratched for the computer to read. Technological leaps have been amazing, but technology alone does not make a great game. Just as in the movies, greatness lies within the story.

I am not exactly in the prime demographic for computer gaming, and never really was. Mostly the games are targeted toward young men, which can easily been seen by how very little clothing most of the female characters wear on their fabulously toned bodies. But it’s not all about guns and boobs, or else I never would have stuck with it. There are strategy games, simulation games, role-playing games (my passionate favorite), adventure games (which immerse you almost as if you are playing a role in a movie) and shooters, which are cathartic if nothing else. Sex, or at least the implication of sex (guns and boobs, remember) is abundant in gaming but romance is not, which is why on the rare occasion when a game’s creators slip a real romance in, I rejoice as only a girly-girl can. So for you romance lovers, and for you computer game lovers, and for we happy few who are both, here is a list of my favorite computer game romances:

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Aspyr 2004). It’s amazing that they could pull it off, but this is an amazing game, probably my personal favorite. Consider this: you can choose whether you play a female or male character, whether you are good or evil, and in a somewhat hidden story tree, whether you are gay or straight. Yet somehow the game is clever enough to provide a romance for your character, if you so choose, and handle that romance with tenderness, humor, great writing and good voice acting—and heartache, if it comes to that.
2. Neverwinter Nights II (Aspyr 2008) This is another one where the character you play could be one of either sex, and chosen from many races, but under the right storyline you could foster romance with one of your fellow travelers. My warrior mage was destined to be with the paladin Casavir but I have to admit to something: it was the bad boy, Bishop, who really got her attention. Oh, if only he hadn’t been so full of hurt and mistrust . . .
3. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (UBI Soft 2003). This romance, between the heroic Prince and the sweet, resourceful Princess Farah, is hot stuff. They begin as enemies but need each other to escape their otherworldly curse, and by the climax of the game each is willing to die for the other. The resolution? Heartbreaking, and wonderful, and perfect.
4. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (Lucas Arts 1993). I don’t know how many people remember this nifty old Lucasarts game. This one managed to bring Indy together with yet another smart and beautiful sidekick, make their conversations witty, their flirtation believable the their kiss perfectly timed. And this was all done with text alone, no voice acting at all.
5. Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption (Activision 2000). Noble medieval crusader Christof is turned undead, but not before he falls in love with the beautiful nun who cared for him when he was wounded. Waking hundreds of years later in modern times, he discovers that, perhaps due to his own failings, his true love has also been held in stasis and he fights his way through a bajillion baddies to rescue her. Exactly what form does his rescue take? Well, that’s up to you. I truly felt Christof’s anguish as I helped him on his quest to find the woman of his dreams.

So, has anyone else played these games? Played one I forgot to mention, where the romance is memorable and fun? I’d love to know that I’m not the only one out there!


  1. Christine, I love games, especially ones with the story, though I am never very good at it so I tend to do the mindless shooting ones. Perhaps I need more practice. lol

    I had no idea some of them had a romance element and am going to check out the most recent one you recommend when I go to get printer ink today. Or should I? If I get hooked, will I ever get any writing done.?

    And I have just as much fun in my own invented world, except when I'm stuck. Hmm, have to think about that one, but I am truly tempted.

    I was asked to help write script for a game in the winter, a Jane Austen one, but in the end decided I didn't have the time and they weren't looking to pay very much.

    Clearly you are not alone.

  2. Can't help you on this one. The only computer game I've ever played is Solitaire. LOL! My son, on the other hand, loves computer games (and every other kind).

  3. I read recently that people pay real money for virtual clothes to wear in their games.

    Many, many years ago I tried some kind of treasure hunt game, but it quickly palled since the game offered little real novelty.

    AI has come a long way since then, and as I understand it, in some of the role playing games, real people are other characters.

    I've always thought a fantastic science fiction story could arise from a computer game.

    I've also wished I had the programming skills to invent a plotting game. The closest I've come is using the Tarot deck.

    Interesting post.

  4. Sorry Christina,
    I've only played those silly word games and puzzles like Bejeweled. The games you mention sound so intriguing, I'm afraid I'd get even less work done if I ever started one!


  5. Not a gamer, but my sons sure are! I'm with Marie on this one.

  6. Hi Michele. It is true that games have stolen quite a bit of writing time from me, but then again, writing has stolen a lot of game time, so it's probably about even. The best game I've played in the last year was The Witcher, with Neverwinter Nights II coming in second. Both are deeply immersed in fantasy worlds, and The Witcher is very mature material. But there are lots of great games out there, and older ones are quite a bit less expensive. I recommend checking for their reviews.

  7. Now for MM, Marie, Cindy and Cheryl! I'll convert you yet! Aw, just kidding. Electronic gaming isn't to everyone's taste. But it sure is one of my favorite things to do. Don't let the shooters fool you; there are lots of richly storied, intelligent games out there for imaginative and mature players.

  8. Yeah, my son, and to a lesser degree my daughter, are the gamers in my household. I played a number of the simulation and tycoon games before I started this writing thing! My favorites were Rollercoaster and Zoo Tycoon. As for romance, the one that comes to mind are the Sims games. Your Sims can get married and have babies, or just be total hoochie mamas and stud muffins. They call it 'making whoopie' and it is a total crack up! Kissing, hearts floating, oohs and aah...hysterical.

  9. Sharon, I'm a Sims addict and I love their romantic interplay, and that your Sim can be a total floozy if you want. Played a lot of Tycoon games too, including Roller Coaster and Railroad. Thanks for sharing your favs with me!

  10. Isn't it fun Christina! My son, who is only 15 now, would purposely make them fight! Ha! I would have fun trying to pair up the most unlikely couples, personality wise. In my real life I am a stickler for morality, but the fun part about Sims is letting loose with all that. But, the real draw for me was creating the houses and yards. I loved the creativity involved with those types of games, same with RCT, rather than the management part. Thanks for this fun essay!

  11. Awesome post Christina! I don't play theses games, but I know enough people to sit around and watch them while they are "gaming" to understand that at the root of most of these games is an amazing love story! Whether it's saving a princess or avenging your lover's memory, there's a whole a lot of romance going on in these macho adventures :) Thanks for sharing your hobby!!


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