Between real and one-way: Relationships with persistent non-player characters.

Relationships with persistent, non-player characters (PNPCs) live somewhere between parasocial relationships (one-way relationships, e.g., characters from TV, movies, or novels) and real relationships.  Unlike parasocial relationships, you can generally interact with and sometimes affect PNPCs, but unlike real relationships, the breadth and depth of what you can do to affect them is severely restricted.


The opportunity for interaction with a PNPC holds within it the possibility for a (relatively) non-superficial relationship to develop with him/her.  However, much of the dialogue interaction leaves a lot to be desired and many actions outside of dialogue don’t even seem to phase many PNPCs.

How might we improve upon this system?  Do you see more “realistic” characters as desirable, or does the nature of video games (e.g., “I didn’t mean to press that button!”) mean that characters (like the game) should be more forgetting and forgiving?  Do you have any PNPCs in the past that made you laugh or cry?  Did you miss them when the game was over?  Have you ever left a game unfinished so that you didn’t have to end the story and leave your PNPC buddies? (I’m guilty as charged on multiple accounts)

I’d like to lead a discussion about the nature of these relationships, how you process them, how “real” they are to you, where you see them going, and how we can get there.

Categories: session-talk |

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