Yes, my post is late. I returned from spending my Spring Break at the Game Developers’ Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, only to get ridiculously sick. Thanks to Zithromax and some steroids, I’ll be all good soon. But in the meantime…yes. That’s how I spent Spring Break, and it was a gamers’ paradise!
In addition to getting face time with the likes of Sid Meier, Tim Schaefer and John Romero, I attended some really stimulating workshops and lectures there. One of these was by UbiSoft’s Creative Director, Jason VandenBerghe, entitled “The 5 Domains of Play,” in which he used a new personality model called O.C.E.A.N. to determine what game qualities might satisfy people on both ends of each personality continuum. As a designer, this made a whole lot of sense…appeal to both ends of the personality spectrum, and your game reaches a wider audience. I encourage anyone interested in learning more about this to download his slides at http://www.darklorde.com. This talk was the best.
Another talk I attended and really liked was the one given by Jonathan Perry, the Cinematics Director for BioWare Edmonton (makers of the Mass Effect series, and my very favorite series…Dragon Age). His talk gave a step-by-step demonstration of narrative structure within cutscenes, and showed how narrative and cinematics work together in Mass Effect and Dragon Age. I was glad to meet him, and also glad to have met the Lead Producer for BioWare Edmonton who stopped by the Conference Associate (CA) Lounge for coffee one morning. I did probably mess that encounter up owing to the amount of fangirl drool that was going on.
In any case…this is all a roundabout way of leading up to my next preliminary finding, which does involve BioWare. Last year, BioWare released Dragon Age II, and was blasted by a straight male gamer who felt that he shouldn’t have to deal with homosexual relationships in his game if he is a straight male. This criticism was responded to directly by Lead Writer David Gaider, in a response I thought was effing amazing and is an example of why I will always play games made by this company. He essentially said, “Respectfully…tough crap.”
The next finding of my preliminary survey about player behavior and romance-able NPC’s is that any conversation about NPC romance in games MUST INCLUDE discussion about BioWare products:
- When asked what games players have played which contain romance-able NPC’s, 75% of the 20 games cited were BioWare titles.
- The top three game series cited (Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Knights of the Old Republic) are all BioWare titles and received 55% of the overall responses.
These findings show that researching and discussing this topic in a way that either validates or invalidates BioWare’s criticized methods of doing things, might be valuable to the gaming industry. They are the biggest game in town, according to gamers, so analyzing their methods, narratives, characters etc. can help us understand NPC romance and maybe even help game writers produce more widely relevant content in RPG’s.