Marriage In Gaming And The Lack Thereof

I am married! Officially off the market and happy to be so. Currently on last day of honeymoon and been craving to write and so I thought I’d talk about what’s been on my mind predominantly the past month, marriage. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with my day. I’m talking about marriage in gaming.

When I decided to write about this topic I started to think over my 1/4 of a century gaming knowledge and I quickly realised how little marriage is in games. Considering marriage has been around for seemingly ever and is a tradition across most of the world, it sure doesn’t come across that way in video games. I can understand this to an extent though. Game publishers want the player to feel a connection to their protagonist or to want to play as a fantastical protagonist. Marcus Fenix from the Gears Of War series doesn’t look like an average gamer but the boulder in armour appeals to that fantasy element. Who doesn’t love pretending to be a badass? Marriage would only hold that fantasy back. Then there is the classic, regular person finds out they are the chosen one or falls into a situation where they save the world. I would be lying to say that I haven’t daydreamed about that in work now and then. Commitments like marriage, a job and family would also lessen that fantasy. Not saying I wouldn’t like that to be an element in games, but from a publisher stand point I understand. The average age of gamers is rising but I don’t think I’m far wrong in saying that the majority of game revenue is from the teenager to early 20’s demographic. As I’ve been ageing my game buying has decreased, as have my friends spending habits too. In my early 20’s I bought games willy-nilly but there is a reason I had more money and free time back then. I was devoid of commitments and any commitments I had were minor compared to today.  So I understand publishers aiming for that larger revenue.

As I said though, the age of the average gamer is rising and so I believe it’s time we see this being reflected in games. Not in all games it’d be a good way to distinguish your game from the crowd. Games like Mass Effect where you get a template character and a choose your own backstory section would bode well to have a marriage life option included. A checkbox that allows you to include a married life package or even create your spouse and children in a character creator. It would allow players to a wider range of character depth and for those that have a family, it’s nice to be able to experience that in a fictitious setting too. It doesn’t even have to be anything major in that marriage package. Could just be a home on a distant planet that you can visit now and again and have supper with the family. Or emails that you receive now and then about young Jimmy being bullied at his new school. In today’s games where we have an overabundance of things to do on the map, a little subplot about married life shouldn’t be hard to implement. The ability to play Commander Shepard as a family war hero rather than the swinging bachelor war hero would be a welcome change to some games. Is it necessary in all games? Absolutely not, stories function better at times if the protagonist is single and ready to mingle but in games where that doesn’t matter, a choice would be a welcome one.

Most games where marriage is a component, the marriage aspect is usually a story point. FFX and FFXV both have key plots that revolve around a marriage. The original Gears Of War trilogy has Dom’s personal mission of trying to find his wife Maria. Uncharted 4 has Nathan Drake struggling to adapt to a stable married life instead of his daring and dangerous past. While I enjoyed each of these, they are generally end goals or things to push the story in the right direction. Dom’s search is the exception there but it’s never the main story thread. There can be hours before Dom pipes up about his wife and even though I enjoyed that plot, it is a sub plot. What I want is a more natural married life situation. I want it to be there and to have meaning to the whole story or a majority of it. It doesn’t have to be the main focus but it should be there and not just something that dips in and out to add stakes or to propel a story beat. Even though those things are fine to do in games as well, I just would like to see it more fleshed out. When I was thinking about games that I’ve played that featured well done couples, I really struggled to remember any. There is one that I instantly remembered and one that I remembered really appreciating when I played it and that was Lost Odyssey.

lost odyssey

Lost Odyssey was a JRPG that came out on the Xbox 360 in 2008. It centres on Kaim, a member of the Immortals, a race of….well immortal beings. For some reason the Immortals lose their memories and what follows is a quest to recover Kaim’s memories and to save the land from disaster. Not a wholly original plot but what makes it for me is the introduction of the rest of the party. Specifically Sarah, Cooke and Mack. Sarah is also an Immortal who has lost her memory but it is revealed that Kaim and Sarah are husband and wife. Not only that but Mack and Cooke are Kaim and Sarah’s grandchildren. For the majority of the game, these 4 are together, traversing this world and trying to prevent disaster from happening. How often can you think of a game where husband and wife are a team in combat situations? How often are the children or grandchildren of these people involved? Not only are they an integral part of the combat and its mechanics but also the story. The kids and Sarah aren’t just chucked in for a bit of drama or aren’t the driving force at the start of the story. They all go on an adventure together as a family and I’ve hardly seen that in games. There are quite a few games where it’s brothers off on a mission together so why not couples? There is room to do a lot of creative things with marriage in gaming and not for it to be a basic mechanic in Fable 2 or some subplot to overcome. And while I don’t want those mechanics to disappear, I think it’s time we start seeing more representations of married, family or couples life in gaming.

Who knows, maybe I’m just high on married life. It’s only been a week since the day. Ask me how I feel about this in a year’s time. Maybe by then I’d vote to keep reality and fantasy as far from each other as possible. But until then, let me know your opinion and if you can think of any well done couple/marriage elements in gaming, feel free to share them as I’m quite interested in seeing more examples. Take it easy.

11 thoughts on “Marriage In Gaming And The Lack Thereof”

  1. I remember thinking it unusual myself back when I played Lufia II because the main character of that game ends up getting married as well. It’s not really something you often see in games.

    Anyway, congratulations on the marriage! I hope it went well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, good shout. Never heard of that game before. It’s a Japanese RPG too. Weddings seem more popular in that genre.

      And thank you, it went better than I imagined, besides a few weird actions by family members but that’s to be expected with my family and weddings apparently.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations again! Hope you guys had a lovely day, and all the best for the future. 😀

    I read once that in programmes like soaps, it was necessary to have places like the local pub or corner shop – otherwise the characters would simply stay in their homes. These locations are needed so they have somewhere to come together and create conflict, in order to create a storyline.

    I guess it’s the same with marriage in games: the belief is that if you’re tied to a relationship, you’ll remain in one place and will never set foot into that big open-world outside your door (unless your princess is kidnapped, of course – but that’s a rant for another time). That’s not necessarily a true representation in marriage however and when players are crying out for more realistic characters, it makes sense to include such subjects in video games!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you :).

      True, having places to go or not saddling characters with priorities and *baggage* does leave a lot of space open. I suppose some see marriage as an end goal and a settle down point and not something an adventurer does. I remember some kicking up a fuss when Indiana Jones got married. Like that was the end of his crypt robbing days. Nevermind the fact that he’s in his mid 60’s.

      As a fellow Brit, do you remember the TV show The Royale Family? I think it was 3 seasons and a bunch of Christmas specials but it was literally a family sat watching TV or having dinner. And I loved it! That comforting family dynamic is really appealing to me and I want more of that in gaming. And married couples aren’t represented enough.

      For me, the scenes where Nathan Drake and Sully are together are my favourite bits in the Uncharted series. Their past together seeping into conversations as they pal around and critique each other is something that puts a smile on my face. Why can’t that be a couple instead? Elena kind of does that role in Uncharted 4 but the brother has more of a filling role. And I’m not saying to make characters a couple just to make them a couple. I wouldn’t say to replace Sam’s role with Elena as the story revolved around the brothers and their past. But I don’t believe that ideas about couples in games haven’t been thrown around in board meetings at game studios. You mentioned realism but even in fantasy settings, I don’t understand the lack of couples. A husband and wife wizard and witch on a mission, why not? I don’t understand why magic is more believable than a couple on an adventure. It’s great potential for couch co-op games. But apparently they’re dying down and that’s another touchy subject for me so I’m going to stop here.

      I used your comment as a part 2 to my post haha. I ranted a bit too much.


      1. Yeah, I remember The Royale Family! It’s media like that which shows there can still be ‘adventures’ in settled situations with families and marriages. Sure, they’re different and might be on a more intimate scale; but does that make them any less exciting or important?

        I love the thought of married partners featuring in a couch co-op game – that would definitely be something which would attract my attention. Keep ranting until the developers out there listen and we get a release!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is interesting and true it’s not a topic that comes up in games, I do recall Jaheira and Khalid being married in Baldur’s Gate, their devotion to each other was an interesting dynamic in your party. Of course, she loses Khalid and Baldur’s Gate 2 leaves her coping with her newfound widowhood, so ultimately it reverts to a similar scenario.

    Fable 3 also allowed you to marry an NPC or a partner in co-op play, and Skyrim had a smaller sort of family dynamic with your partner staying in whatever accommodation you provided as well as adopting orphans in the Hearthfire DLC.
    Outside of this, there’s political marriage and dynastic traditions in a variety of Paradox games, with Crusader Kings 1 & 2 being foremost amongst them as you create your web of allegiances. Yet this is perhaps not quite the marriage dynamic you are thinking of which is a more romantic version… and yet marriage as a transaction is perhaps more often how it has been used as a tool of societies fabric historically, so in this (dys)functional system is an interesting portrayal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh the Baldur’s Gate scenario sounds interesting especially the aftermath. Yeah games like Fable 3,Stardew Valley, My Time at Portia etc have marriage options but it’s almost like a tick box to me. You can do it but most of the time it just gets that NPC in your home, some unique dialogue and maybe an item or some perk. It would be very hard to program unique situations for each potential spouse but a default template could be made. So for Fable 3,your partner could gain the programming of a past NPC who joined you on a quest and fought monsters with you. Generic dialogue could be made for that and other additions.

      Also I’ve got Crusader Kings 2 and I know what you mean about the marriage is more of a tool for rights to reign and allegiances. Side note: I would love to play Crusader Kings 2 but oh my word, is there a lot to learn. Did tutorials and YouTube lessons and I still got lost with it all. If you have any tips on best way to learn, please let me know haha.


      1. I think with games like Stardew Valley, Skyrim etc its about how much you truly roleplay… the more you invest in crafting your story in the world, the more the relationship matters.
        Regarding the mechanical aspect of having a spouse, I’d say probably setting up scenarios or events that are randomly calculated would be a better solution since you’d receive different ones (or maybe a few of the same every time you play through with a new character and spouse).

        As for Crusader King’s the only way to really learn is to dive right in. As you go along use the Paradox wiki and reddit. Set yourself limited goals so one scenario focus on using the economy in another create a military dynasty. And don’t be afraid to reset and try again when you’ve felt you’ve learnt something.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Randomised events would be fun to play and an easy way to avoid having to program each unique potential partner. Would be a nice surprise too to be able to replay a favoured event with current spouse.

        Thank you for the Crusader King’s tips! Next time I play it I’ll get the wiki out and start basic. I really enjoy Civilisation V and CK2 has a more political aspect that I’m really interested in trying. Especially the whole betrothed and descendant assigning factors. I’m determined to understand it! I just need to the time haha.


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