Romantic Interlude

March 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

When playing with gamers, there’s two things that you must (regrettably) take into account.

1) Not everyone will be as awesome and clever as me.

2) Some players get uncomfortable when role playing romantically with other people.

So, imagine trying to run a game where love is a central theme to the plot. Trying to reclaim lost love, trying to create new love, or just plain getting married so your parents will stop bothering you like all the god damned time about when they’ll become grandparents…

First, it’s the job of the people running the game to lay it down. If people falling in love is one of the goals of one character, it’s BOUND to be a goal for someone else. Simply tossing your line out there to see what bites may not work all the time, but it can’t hurt. (kinda like in real life, but that’s a tale for a different post)

It’s been said that one of the most important things you can do when playing a game is to try SOMETHING. Sometimes, this is easier said than done.

The very first LARP I played in at a convention was a game run by two VERY awesome gentlemen, Brian Isikoff and Wayne Ogle. Their game had 5 groups of players seeking to control a strategic silver mine. While a majority of the group opted to have subtle names for themselves, (Owls, Otters…) my team named ourselves after tigers. I thought, “Oh yes. We’re gonna fuck some shit up!”

No. The leader of our group chose to hamstring me by forcing me to hide and ‘protect our base’ rather than allowing me to try to interact with anyone. Meanwhile, he sat with his hands folded and did nothing himself. That was a 6 hour game. Of. Nothing.

When the game was over, not only did we lose, we were humiliated. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I was so very frustrated, but there was nothing I could do myself to fix it without stepping over the head of my ineffective boss and murdering him in his sleep.

In hindsight, I should have.

What does this have to do with love in gaming? Everything! Imagine if it was your characters boss your character were in love with. You could take the route I did and pine about never having a chance, or you could do what I SHOULD have done and murder loneliness in the face and TRY to make something happen.

No one is holding you back, except yourself. Even in games with a pecking order and honor and whatnot, it’s always more heroic and interesting to TRY to do something rather than sit and wait for it to happen to you. Is there a reason to let life pass you by? No.

Love and life wait for no person. Try it, or perish in obscurity.



§ 4 Responses to Romantic Interlude

  • Jenny Iloff says:

    What’s interesting about your post is that in the tabletop games Max and I run here in Sac, and in gaming in general, we always play romantically linked characters. And surprisingly it wasn’t my idea to do this but his. Some gamers may think it weird, but the way we see it it’s a new way to fall in love with each other all over again. Not due to the mighty plot device, but the characters have to work at it like any normal relationship. That and it’d be weird to have to RP your spouse as your sibling, wouldn’t it?

    Speaking of L5R and people possibly not wanting to play romance, YES, it MUST be spelled out at the beginning of the game whether said romance is necessary to the plot or not. You would think people familiar with L5R would know that marriage (loving or political) is a central theme, but…at our DunDraCon L5R LARP a few years back we gave a semi-important female PC to a woman who apparently was going through a divorce at that moment. The male PC who was playing her love interest told us later that she told him “sorry, I don’t believe in marriage and so I’m not doing this plot point”. Way to hamstring another player AND ruin the plot. This is why we make an announcement after we give out characters that if someone has a personal issue with a character then give it back right now, and you may have to leave. >_>

  • First, I’d like to say I love that you took what I *STARTED* to write (and never actually finished)and discussed it. Had I spent some time on this, and actually fleshed out ALL of what I wanted to say, I’d have come to the following two points.

    1) Any kind of romantic relationship expressed with RPG’s can be tricky depending on who all is involved. If the person(s) are amenable to the idea, then it’s fine. However, it NEEDS to be expressed early to diffuse as much potential problems as possible.

    2) You have to try to do something, rather than sitting on your thumbs and letting something happen to you. Act, rather than React. Your gaming experience (pen and paper, LARP, or otherwise) will be fuller and richer as a whole.

    To speak of your points though, you mention a spouse as a sibling in a game. Honestly, I think if I were to have a game and my wife were deranged enough to wish to join us (She’s very self conscious in person, so she doesn’t really act without provocation) I’d PREFER it to be something like that. Why? Because then we wouldn’t be mushy or ‘meta’ at the table and possibly make others uncomfortable (read: Luth… because he wants my sweet ass). Does this mean it’s bad to play like that? Not at all. I think it might make it easier to get that significant other invested in a story if the characters are more relatable. Your mileage may vary.

    Your reply is PERFECT and I can’t wait to see your thoughts and stuff on our Women Of Gaming podcast.


  • Everything about this post and the comments are perfect. There are two very distinct sides to gaming with your significant other, there’s the romantic side and the intellectual side.
    The romantic side wants to be mushy and fall in love all over again within another world, which is awesome and can be fun and renewing. Also if you feel like you would have trouble separating that part of you during the game then it’s almost better to do that and avoid distractions and poor decision making due to either being too lenient/friendly or over-compensating for the fact that you are in love with that person outside of game.

    The intellectual side of you wants to see what your significant other has got! They want to pit themselves against them or work with them and see how they can puzzle out how to get ahead of you. Sometimes you want to just jump in and play very separate games and then tell each other what happened afterward. Sometimes you want to explore different dynamics for the fun of it (siblings, rivals, teacher student, etc.)It really depends on what kind of relationship you have.

    This is all based on my own personal experience and the experiences of others around me, I’m sure that other people have very different views on this. I personally enjoy both ways. It is fun to fall in love all over again and work with John within the confines of this new character, but then being completely other people and getting to know the love of my life as my enemy or a character that I need to manipulate to get to my goal is incredibly fun and interesting. That way almost always makes kissing them at the end of game all the more rewarding 😉

  • Jenn Moore says:

    We have had situations similar to the one that Jenny outlined in our Tempest in a Teapot LARPs where someone has an aversion to some part of their background or character connections. We try to stress that if you don’t like some part of your characters sheet please be courteous to the writers and other players by letting a GM know so they can get you a different character.

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