Or: How to skeeve out Taff, an ace’s take.
Alright, let’s start off with: I love me some love, okay? I write it. Plus, I gravitate towards games that offer me romance options like I’m a touch starved kitten. Cyberpunk 2077. Divinity Orignal Sin 2. Mass Effect. Dragon Age. Jade Empire. Knights of the Old Republic. Any BioWare game, really. Even as I type this, I remember just how stoked I am for Baldur’s Gate 3 and how I’m still hyped for the Axe DLC in Boyfriend Dungeon, because I need me that Axe. He’s the Sweetest.
So, yeh. I may be ace, but I do love me some videogame love.
But Dying Light 2’s “romance” skeeves me out to the point of making me want to take off my headphones, and we don’t even, you know, seal any deals. And still a bunch of those scenes have me feel such deep-seated discomfort that I want to get up and walk away. Or chuck the character who has caused me said discomfort off the nearest roof.
What’s the issue, Taff, you may ask. Consent is what.
Note the generous use of the word options when I mentioned my adoration for games letting me (or whatever character I am currently playing) get romantically involved. And consent isn’t only important once the clothes are about to come off. Nuh-huh. It starts with how other characters interact with me. Or, in this particular case, with Aiden.
Allow me to explain with a bunch of examples.
We meet Lawan and, upon reaching the Lookout to watch the lights come on, she hugs Aiden. My immediate reaction was to squeak ‘Please, don’t. Get off,’ because you’ve got no right to get into my personal space like that. That was where my dislike for her properly started, but not where it ended, because things just get worse. Throughout the rest of the game, I have to sit through Aiden whinging into the radio after her, stand witness to more uncomfortable physical attention, and not once get the option to say Stop. There’s no ‘no, I do not consent to this cheek kiss, get the heck off me’, but only more of the same.
And then there’s Thalia. Heck. We engage in a wee bit of well-mannered small-talk with her and hoo-boy, next thing we know she confesses her arousal (*distressed Taff screeches are audible in the distance*) and we’re locked into being receptive to the whole thing because she sure as hell ain’t quitting and Aiden’s responses (while somewhat non-committal up to a point) do not allow us to set boundaries. And oh dear lord did I want to set boundaries. Desperately. Without being an absolute ass, preferably.
I’m thinking… maybe the first person mode makes it worse. Though then again you’ve got Cyberpunk 2077 where I had no issue with it at all since I was in full control at all times and able to say no. Like telling Panam she’s getting a bit too familiar when she puts her legs up on V’s lap. That, that, is choice and that is setting boundaries. Without being a jackass, too.
Which, funnily enough, is why I find Hakon so much more pleasant to be around than Lawan.
Boundaries are set. Casually. Playfully. And that’s the sort of boundaries that, once set, I am more than willing to dismantle if only someone would give me the choice.
But Lawan and Thalia? No boundaries. No choice. No, thank you.
TLDR: Consent is Good™.