You talk a lot here about realism, it's kind of your central thesis as I can tell. But I don't know that we need realism in a fantasy video game. I mean, the word fantasy is right there. I dunno about you, but in my fantasies, everyone I'm attracted to is also attracted to me. I don't sit and fantasize about someone saying, "Sorry, I'm not into you." Also video game. Which is a form of entertainment, right? So when you say the purpose of "people" in the "world" is not to please you, I think maybe it kind of is? In a video game? Now of course different people will be "pleased" by different things, and it's impossible to please everyone. So I think they have to try to assess which option pleases more people. And I don't know which one it is. But it might be playersexual characters, mightn't it?
I'm sorry to cut this right out of its context but I really think this hits the heart of the argument: I don't play video games for erotic or fetish fantasies. I don't watch tv shows for fetish purposes either. I don't read books for it either. It's not the kind of entertainment I want. It's not the kind of "fantasy" I want.
Honestly, there is a big problem with how rpgs have come to be burdened with an expectation of appealing to fetishes with their "romances" these days. It's the video equivalent of blatant panty shots and ridiculous boobiting in anime. I think alice was right in invoking the Miyazaki meme but maybe not for the same reason as you. There's always been this weird, toxic fetish culture part of nerd culture but I certainly do not think it is what most people approach the media, whether anime or video game, for. It just gets a lot of attention because it's what people who spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet obsessing about media clamour for.
I don't need a video game waifu. I don't need the game to fuel my fetishes. I don't need constant sexual fan service. I don't need characters to be defined by being vehicles for my sexual fantasies. I think media suffers and becomes less good from having these as pillars of their design philosophy.
I want strong characters. Strong characters does not mean characters with muscle mass or 12+ in their Strength attribute. Strong characters mean characters with a well defined, realistic characterisation, the more depth the better. I want characters that have their own goals and aims, and that don't just lull around behind the PC regardless of what you do. I don't want characters that bend around your character like spineless sea churning.
The main problem as I see it isn't that just that the characters are player-sexual. This would in itself be a weakness of characterisation, but can be overcome with good writing (something Larian lacks). The main problem is that they are hyper-player-sexual. They're throwing themselves at the player like cats in heat, like I was actually playing an hentai harem-collecting game instead a high fantasy adventure. It's not exciting, it's certainly not romantic, and it's not even enrousing. It's laughable. These aren't characters. These are vehicles. These are anime panty-shots. The only word that can describe it is cringeworthy.
Who was talking about fetishes? I wasn't. In fact I agree with everything you said about fetishism in gaming. I find it distasteful as well. I find fan service crass, and I grit my teeth any time someone says "waifu". (I feel dirty just having typed that word.) I think the stuff you're talking about is gross, too.
I'm just talking about, in a game which is already a massive power fantasy in every other respect, having the character your character likes also like your character seems pretty reasonable. When people fantasize about being a character in a fantasy world, they probably don't fantasize about people NOT being attracted to that character. I could be wrong, maybe there's a bit subset of people craving some good rejection experiences in their RPGs.
I also agree with you about the hyper part. That's a very different thing from merely being playersexual, and I think it's definitely a problem. The part where suddenly every party member wants to sleep with you (or talk about sleeping with you) at the same time is really poorly done, in my opinion, and I hope they change it. It comes across right now as very weird.
Perhaps I should have avoided the word fetish, it is perhaps a little too negatively loaded, but I can't think of a better way to express the kind of sexually loaded fanservice it appears to me as. The act of making characters player-sexual reduces them to vehicles for the player's sexual fantasy in that aspect.
But I do, even if I dislike it, understand the resource argument which I believe is the main reason they make it like that. I went on a bunch about it before because I guess I had some hot air to vent about it, but the main reason I decided to post in this thread wasn't the player-sexuality in itself but said hyper-ism of it, like you say. When I saw this thread's title, "dial back the romance", that to me means first are foremost make it less hyper. Player-sexuality can stay for all I care, it's not the worst. But the cringeworthy party scenes, I really do wish they rewrote that part.
The bolded part -- I am currently replaying the DA games, now I'm at DA2 (currently romancing Anders, by the way, speaking of cringeworthy dialogue -- the player character really acts like the most horrible douche if you select the romance dialogue choices for him) and during it I remembered how one of my favourite things -- maybe because of how everyone else are just at your whim -- from it was selecting the romance dialogue option with Aveline and having her repeatedly pass on the hot hot piece of mass murdering asshole I was
But that is just a fun story. I don't think I would like rejection simulator either. You have a point in that, but to me that does not outweigh my wish to have characters rather than vehicles.