Go Farther: Date Sim Redux

Tamara had mentioned to me that if you're going to have a Scott Pilgrim game that's a beat-em-up, you should also add another appropriate game – DateSim.

This made me think that, indeed, there's many properties that could benefit from DateSims as I mentioned before.  I'd love to see the Venture Brothers get a DateSim of the supervillain characters (who often have complex romantic lives).  You could do one with Legion of Superheroes, the superhero soap opera.  DateSims, could be everywhere . . .

 . . . except right now it seems they're already starting to make their way into the RPG Genre.  Yep, the DateSim snuck in under our noses.

There have been DateSim-ish elements before in games, here and there.  I recall them being in some of the D&D games of decades past, in later Star Wars games, Steambot Chronicles, The Witcher.  Bits and pieces, here and there.

There was Fable, then Fable 2.  These weren't so much DateSims but finding the right ridiculous actions to suddenly turn someone on enough to marry you.  Ok that's not quite different from most DateSims, except it's less plot and more flexing your character's muscles or making fart noises.  (No, seriously, in the game some characters will grow to love you if you fart enough).  However relations formed a big part of what you could do.

But then it went further.  Dragon Age: Origin was a gigantic series of love triangles with straight relations, gay relations, pretty much anything you could imagine relationship-wise.  You had choices ranging from a cool and scary sorceress to an elf who sounds like Antoinio Banderas; there was something for everyone.

Then of course there was Mass Effect Two from the same people; and apparently don't go knocking', because the spaceship was a'rockin.  I have not played Mass Effect, but apparently Bioware is quite good at turning games into both compelling RPGs and virtual singles bars.

There are other games with romance of course; Alpha Protocol, a sequel to the Witcher, and I'm sure I'm missing others.

I realized then that with these hit games, that the DateSim element of games seems to be accepted.  It's normalized – it's talked about, joked about, improvements are suggested . . .  but rarely do I see people say romance elements should be removed from the games they're in.

DateSims are now normal.  They're in massive multi-million selling games.  We just didn't notice it because they're couched as parts of much larger games.  But they're normal.

Scott Pilgrim DateSim?  Why not.  In fact, I'm realizing now that DateSims have already spread far and wide – as parts of other games.  I imagine that in the next few years they'll be expected for some RPGs.

I think I was right – I just didn't notice how.

Steven Savage