Some more thoughts on Videogame Romance
Sorry to all my (three) readers for not having posted in a while. Teaching summer is more overwhelming than I expected it to be. I’ll make up for it by posting a series on how to get cheap or free college education over the weekend.
Anyway… I’m currently re-writing my PCA talk on romance and videogames into an article collaboration with Fanny Ramirez (www.fanny-ramirez.com) for the Journal of Popular Culture (forthcoming, 2013) and we’ve had to cut out a bit of the new stuff. Here’s some comments on Alex as saint and libertine that we had to cut out.
Elements of the romance as identified by Perez, namely allusions to knighthood and questing, as well as the mirroring of the saintly and libertine identities, are present in the narrative. The allusions to knighthood are obvious in the figure of the Dragonmaster, the leadership position of the Four Heroes, knights dedicated to the service of the Goddess. In the world of Lunar, every major city has some form of knightly order, and nearly every gate is guarded by a well-spoken, chivalric non-playable character covered in armor. The juxtaposition of the saintly and libertine identities in the hero can only be seen and analyzed depending on how the player interacts with the game.
The author-defined narrative of Lunar involves a young man who leaves his town on a quest for glory who discovers his love for the heroine throughout the course of the story and who overcomes all odds to be together with her. If the player chooses to follow through the game’s narrative without taking any detours or making any side quests, then the protagonist will come across as a saintly figure whose sole focus is to win back his beloved. However, should players choose to complete certain side quests, they will be treated to short sections of the narrative which include Alex and all the members of his party shamelessly frolicking around nude in the hot springs. More interestingly, the player has the ability to return to places that have already been visited in order to collect risqué photographs of all the females met throughout the game, including enemies. While this quest is not a requirement of the main story, the ability to go back and collect these images do call into question the hero’s “saintly” motives of the hero and suggest that Alex is not as saintly as he might seem at first.
Certainly, these side-quests are done in the most tasteful, playful, and picaresque manner possible, but it is the picaresque and chivalric motifs used in the text and that are interlaced with the author’s pointed reference to the moon’s importance, as evidenced in the text’s title, Lunar, as well as the mythology of the world which states that civilization was saved because it was moved from The Blue Star to Lunar, reinforce the hypothesis that Lunar constitutes a variant of what Perez calls a “feminized quest romance”.