Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to fall in love

Well now, well now, well now.  I'm crawling through Dragon Age at my usual snail's pace, and what do I find but what appears to be a love interest?  Unless he dies, of course, but somehow I doubt it.  Alas, Wedding Ring, your charms are already fading...  One of the things I'm also noticing, though, is that, even though I'm a female character, I'm the one doing the chasing.  Ah, refreshing.

I actually laughed at some of his dialogue - in the first exchange, he proves himself a wit, and, by happy circumstance (and good writing), you get to prove yourself the same.  He comes across as a flirt, and, if you choose to respond to that, he's genuinely surprised.  Ah, a humble flirt.  Cute, in all sincerity.

After speaking with the guy for five minutes, I already know what kind of person he is.  And I like it.  I've rarely met a man who's a determined flirt but doesn't believe anyone takes him seriously.  I'm as attracted to him as I would be if I met him in real life.  And, you know, if he wasn't imaginary.  Though Haer'Dalis knows that's never stopped me before.

But, and here's a question - in romance novels, or novels of any sort, really, you have to convince the reader than the love interest is worthy of the love of the main character.  How do you go about doing that in a game?  You don't have anyone they can show their soft side to; they can only show it to the player.  How do you build that bond of trust without treading on some very corny or intimate territory?

So it seems to me that to write the love interest, you have to court the player.  And how do you do that, when there are so many different types of players, all with their own personalities, emotions and agendas?  I suppose you provide different characters and hope one of them takes the player's fancy, but when writing that one half of the conversation, how would you feel?  Do you imagine the player to be your ideal match, and convince yourself you're in love with them in order to write the dialogue?  Do you imagine you're talking to your spouse or significant other?  Can you write the lines of love even if you're not in love yourself?

Perhaps that's why confronting a game writer about how much you like their character is a little disarming.  If they were imagining their ideal - or actual - partner when they were writing those lines, it would be quite a shock to find a stranger had responded.  Wouldn't it be strange to know that writing a character had made someone fall in love with you?  Well, not you, obviously, the character, but I maintain that all writing is necessarily autobiographical.  Otherwise where would the veracity lie?  No, the player would have fallen in love with a part of you.  And that would be strange.

I've had the delight to speak with two of my writing heroes in recent times.  One, a man writing a man who I fell in love with, was quite uncomfortable with my praise.  The other, a woman, who wrote a man I fell in love with, was pleased someone else felt the same way about her beloved character.  It would definitely be a surprise, writing in your gender and hearing someone of the opposite extol the virtues of that character.  How would it feel, to have a stranger know something of you and you to know nothing of them?  A little bit like a stalker, I imagine, and I now see the scary side of fangirls.

So I would love to know who wrote Alistair, if only to congratulate them, but if it was a man... would I be better off keeping my mouth shut?

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