||6 June 1966
||WHAT DO I LIKE IN ROMANCE GAMES?
So, let me try to understand why I play and enjoy playing romance games...
To do so, I'd first define them, or rather try to characterize them, to separate them into their different components and will take the exact case of the romance games I'm most fond of: ADVs or VNs-type romance games.
What makes them? First, the story, obviously, and its constituents: plot, characters and storytelling. But it's not all! You also have the visual aspect and sound aspect, themselves having characteristics and constituents: the visual aspect is characterized by being fixed drawings with only one frame being displayed on the same screen while the sound aspect can be separated into the voice, sound effect and background music components.
Now, let's consider them... None of them is an attribute of only romance games.
I once wrote about the different media:
"First, you have books. Books are IMO the most powerful medium of all, the only one that can truly be the door to the soul of its writer. It is the easiest to create and is only bound by the talent of its writer. Through books, you can describe all kinds of emotions, atmosphere, sceneries, worlds, actions and in all possible ways. It is the most beautiful medium, as it's the trigger of the dream that will takes place inside the reader's heart and mind: the words are the writer's, but the images, moves and sounds are the reader's soul's.
Alas, it implies that for books to be fully enjoyed, there's a need for some accordance between the writer and its readers. If the readers can't understand the writer (either because the writer is bad or the readers just "can't get it"), they won't get anything from the book...
Comics (drawn pictures; not especially US comics) allow to easy that accordance, by removing to the readers the necessity to understand the writer's words to create the imagery. Human beings are mostly visual beings, meaning the apprehend the world mostly though visuals; by giving to the readers the imagery component, comics make easier for them to, well, visualize what is happening in the story. OTOH, it sacrifices narrative details and unify that imagery component to all readers (which, depending on the reader, may increase the perception he would have had from the text from a book; or impoverish it). They also offer the ability to have several 'frames' ('scenes') on the same 'screen' ('page'), allowing a visual play on the scene transition.
Movies gives the sound effects, the motion effects and the advantages to present "true" human beings. And some emotions (of the characters in a story) can't be truthfully represented in a picture and are best seen in a "true" human being face. Movies suffer from a time limitation though, and technical limitations (i.e. not every scenery, item, special effect, etc. is makable).
Cartoons have the strength of the comics visual effect, the movies sound and motion effects and the "you can draw everything". OTOH, its pictures are less detailed as in the comics (because they need to be animated) and, of course, they don't picture "true" human beings.
Drama CDs are probably the weirdest to enjoy, since they only rely on the audio component... OTOH, you have narrative parts, that wins the strength of a book's text."
Romance games are to me then a compromise between most of those medias: the strength of a written text, the narrative power of comics, the sound effect of the movies, anime and drama CDs. Of course, they also get the drawbacks of them (restricting effect of having pictures instead of just text, no motion, no real human being), but I think they make a _good_ compromise.
...if all those aspects were given equal treatment, which is not the case.
When I read -- sorry, _play_ a romance game, I feel like reading a novel, but with visual and sound aspect. So, when it looks like the 'novel' aspect is what plays the most important role in me enjoying such games, the sound and visual aspect also play an important role as they make me prefer such games to 'normal' books: it's what gives romance games the little 'more'. And, since I _do_ like the Japanese anime style of drawings.
But are they the only reasons?
I said 'read' then corrected myself into 'play'. 'Play'. Books, comics, movies, cartoons and drama CDs and media in which the audience is a mere spectator: he can enjoy them, but never influence them. That, is something I often disagree with -- and I'm sure everyone willed at least once to be able to change a book, comics, movie or cartoon's character reaction. This is the reason why I enjoyed "Choose Your Own Adventures" when I was young... or playing RPGs game. Of course, there's still a story, but you're still _acting_ in it and making choices; not always the ones you'd like most, but a choice is better than none IMO. So, I also like such games because I read a story, which isn't mine, yet feels like it is, because it's written in the first person, and I have the ability to make _choices_.
So story, story then.
And because of that -- what I _want_ to enjoy are foremost books -- one can understand why I prefer ADVs or VNs to any other type of gameplay.
But, why the story? And which kind?
I'm a bookworm, I always was. I always read books by the hundred and spent my free time (well, when I was young at least ;)) reading books. My personal favourites always were mythic and legendary romances, but also modern tales of love, always the kind I think love stories should be, tragic: Tristan and Iseult, Lancelot and Guenever, Siegfried and Brunehylde, Medea and Jason, Romeo and Juliet, Honore de Balzac's stories, Choderlos de Laclos's "Dangerous Acquaintances", and the like. I enjoy stories of impossible love, where society, fate, nature, divinities oppose the lovers, where love is a poisonous nectar that turns its drinkers drunk at the first sip, making them lose all reason, yet so bewitching they can't live without drinking more while knowing only suffering, despair and death wait for them in the end, a dream so soft they want it to last forever though aware they'd have to wake up; where love is the only gain and its price can't be paid by any human being. Love should burn the lovers, passion should devour them, desire should consume them; their only wish, and the only thing they can't have, ever. For similar reasons, I enjoy stories where love is supposed to be the ultimate saviour, the one thing that would redeem or save its heroes, but fails to; where people would doom themselves because of love.
The games we're talking are _romance_ games, and romance is in the end the story of two people falling in love, and succeeding, despite the forces that oppose them, trying to find healing in love. Romance is overcoming those forces, being rewarded by love and paying the price.
My love for books and romance would naturally then bring me to them, like a moth to a flame, even more because of their other aspects: pictures and sounds, that complement my imagination and cater to my animefan side.
Of course, it also means I don't enjoy all kind of romance games and stories. Just the ones matching - or nearing - the ones I quoted: "Gin'iro", "Air", "GreenGreen", "FATE/stay night"...
Obviously, because such games are rare, I also enjoy games that have such an atmosphere: depressing, sad, where you can feel the (moral) sufferings and the tragedy of their existence of the characters as you progress in the game ("Mizuiro", "21 ~TwoOne", "Clover Heart's" for instance). Because of that, I tend to go after the introvert, asocial, reserved, never smiling and silent (shy?) kind of girls (Serika from "To Heart", Sanae from "GreenGreen", Rydia from "Majokko A LA MODE", Satsuki in "Mizuiro", Akane in "ONE", Shiina from "Yuibashi", Vanilla from "Galaxy Angels", ...) because their characters cry out they have potential for having suffered from life to become as they are. And, of course, I'm wishing for a tragic ending. ;)
Intellectually, at least.
I'll be honest: somewhat, my heart doesn't agree with my mind. It hates such girl, because it thinks only smile suit a girl and that girls their age should be enjoying life instead. So it wants me go court such girls and bring a smile to their face. So, true, they both push me into going after such girls, but disagree on which kind of ending (happy or tragic) I'd wish for most. My mind usually wins, but that conflict keeps my interest because I enjoy how the events would make one prevails on the other. ;)
So, in conclusion, I like ADVs and VNs games, because I like reading novels and enjoy anime's art. Also, since I tend to prefer tragic romances, I naturally turned to romance games rather than horror or suspense ones, for instance.
It's a pity though I never completely found the kind of story I'd love best: one with eternal damnation and reincarnations, of sin committed out of love and for love, of never reached redemption, where love would be the sword that allows victory, the Graal that heals injuries, the poison that destroys the body and the evil that corrupts the soul. TYPE-MOON's works give me hope, nonetheless. ^_-