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Published on February 9th, 2012 | by Lisa McInerney


Culch Valentine’s: 5 Video Games For Single Players

Hi there gorgeous,

So, Valentine’s Day. Starry-eyed loser, star-crossed lover or cross-eyed malcontent, you’re bound to have an opinion on it, yes? Be it a memory, a barely-concealed urge to vomit, a poem for your other half that makes the rest of us vomit, a scribbled note on what a perfect valentine’s would be for you, a history lesson on the relics of St Valentine, an angry swipe at Hallmark, a cry for help because you don’t know your partner much better than you know your postman and you’re deathly scared of trying to shop for them or anything in between, we share those feelings and each day in the run up to the 14th one of Culch’s writers will bring you their own personal Valentine’s thoughts.

With love and last-minute garage chocolates,


 If there’s one thing that pop culture has taught me about Valentine’s Day, it’s that it’s offensive and upsetting to singletons.

Ok, so pop culture has taught me many things about Valentine’s Day, like that true love can only be proven with a last minute dash through Departures, but the most important is definitely that Valentine’s Day makes solitary people sad. Hermits cannot achieve inner peace on a day devoted to misty-eyed coital rambunctiousness. It’s the law.

Luckily, forlorn loners (forloners?) can now engage in genuinely fulfilling virtual relationships through the awesome power of technology.

No, I don’t mean those strange websites on which you spend three hours creating an avatar of Edward Cullen’s head atop a body clad only in nipple pasties and a leather thong, only to find out you’ve signed up for an urban planning sim. I mean genuine, legitimate, socially-acceptable console video games. In which you can pursue and maintain relationships.

This doesn’t mean ogling the anatomically-reckless breasts of the Dead or Alive cast. Neither does it mean getting emotionally involved in predestined romantic entanglements (from the innate squee! of a Final Fantasy couple to the interminable retching brought on by the sex scene in Fahrenheit). This means getting the virtual hots for a virtual person, spending virtual hours virtually wooing them, and finally virtually consummating your virtual union. There is no more need for singletons to shrivel (emotionally and… erm, genitally) on Valentine’s Day. You can now know the graft, exertion and drudgery of sustaining an adult relationship from the seclusion of your own seclusion.

Forthwith, here are the top five Valentine’s Day appropriate relationship building simulations video games as recommended by Culch.

5. Skyrim

Muiri: possessor of beautiful peepers, killer of ex-boyfriends.

As if shouting down dragons outside the city walls wasn’t enough. Yes, the fifth Elder Scrolls instalment seeks to balance epic badassery with domestic mundanity, allowing your Dovahkiin to woo and win a selection of eligible flahbags from every corner of Skyrim (so long as they’re not Khajiit or Bosmer; Skyrim has race issues). Skyrim spouses are empowered sorts, running booming retail businesses while the Dovahkiin is out plundering tombs and such, and also offer the benefits of home-cooked meals and a rejuvenating bonus called “Lover’s Comfort” after you share the marital bed. Saucy. Getting married in Skyrim is not difficult. The land is harsh, so the people are romantically direct. The implication is instantaneous married bliss, but even in perpetually-horny Skyrim the path of true love doesn’t always run smoothly. If one of your companions dies before you meet the right person, their corpse inexplicably turns up at the chapel and ruins the wedding. And even if the happiest day of your life isn’t marred by zombie wedding guests, your choice of spouse can, just like in real life, backfire dramatically. My Dovahkiin was pleased when Muiri, a beautiful Breton he’d met when she hired him as an assassin, was responsive to his romantic advances. Unfortunately, their wedded life has been diminished somewhat by her constantly thanking him for his successful accomplishment of the task that brought him together, which was, as it turned out, murdering her ex. Awkward.

4. Fallout: New Vegas.

All the bra-fitters had perished in the Apocalypse.

If you think Love In The Time of Cholera sounds uncomfortable, check this action out. Fallout: New Vegas is set in a post-apocalyptic society where fun activities such as negotiating with militant Elvis impersonators are balanced by the constant threat of irradiation and being torn apart by vicious bipedal lizards. Sexual release is an icky kind of comfort in such a cruel world, and there isn’t much room for honour or love (my Courier had his cherry popped by a sexbot called Fisto). However, should your Courier feel the need for something a little more long-term, he or she can command the attention of a beautiful, violent hippy (yes, I know) called Red Lucy, who runs a gladiatorial arena pitching ferocious creatures against the impoverished and foolhardy. Red Lucy is one seductive mama, but she requires serious courtship, specifically, a collection of specimens for her terrifying bestiary. If you manage to accumulate an entire zoo of nasties for her, she swoons at your prowess and becomes available for lingerie pillow fights from there on in. It’s a non-essential slog that might easily get your Courier killed, but it’s that slog that makes the end result so sweet. True love, after all, waits.

3. Grand Theft Auto IV.

The Hot Coffee Approacheth

Even though your life may be hectic (or frequently threatened), you’ve gotta feed the loins. GTA’s Niko Bellic might be fresh off the boat and working 24/7 to make it as a crook in a crooked country, but he always has time for the ladies. GTA IV is all about providing romantic comfort to your hardworkin’ villain, so the opportunity is provided for Niko to wind down of an evening with a selection of interesting female counterparts. But first, he must charm the literal pants off them, and just like real life, this involves dressing for the occasion, flaunting his economic prospects, and choosing appropriate locales for pitching woo. Such delicate social choreography will eventually result in Niko’s getting the ride, although, because this is the 21st century, he may end up reading about it in his conquest’s blog the next day. This makes GTA IV a game that combines the excitement of simulating a criminal lifestyle with the character-building mortification of public relationship feedback. It’s like Mark Zuckerberg doing it with a mirror.

2. The Sims.

Something tells me he's not that into you, love.

Assassins, gladiators and gangsters are all well and good, but some Culch-humping singletons may prefer the comforting tedium of knowing their virtual lovers will remain in the place their pixel-pushing otherselves left them. What’s the point in engaging in extended courtship rituals when your in-game lover might be whisked off by marauders or dragons at any moment? Should this kind of prudish prudence define your gaming style, perhaps something which combines romantic effort with the honest admission that you have nothing better to do? Once your Sim’s basic and professional needs have been taken care of, you’ve either got ahead of you many worthy hours of self-improvement – piano lessons, landscape painting – or a breakneck rush towards getting your virtual self laid. Be prepared to engage in long, tedious conversations, verbal backtracking, and blatant flattery… and all of this just so your blob of pixels can lock lips with another blob of pixels who has tragically picked up the human traits of snobbery, insolence and extreme touchiness.

1. Fable 3

Tell you what, that lawn could do with deflowering.

For some of us, the tender support provided to your hardworking hero by in-game courtship isn’t enough. Marriage is fine and dandy for those simply seeking commitment, but what about procreation? What about work-life balance? What about extra-marital affairs? What about bi-curious fumbling? If you feel repressed by the skin-deep sexuality of our previous four examples, then Fable 3 is the game to get you going this Valentine’s Day. Marriage, in Fable 3, is not the slapdash commitment it is in Skyrim; convincing a prospective spouse of your eligibility takes charm, time and sturdy shoes. Weddings are not performed gratis. Married life is a potent mix of flamboyant romantic gestures and endless gift-shopping. Spouses expect to be kept. Children of the union expect to be tickled. When things do go wrong, they go wrong spectacularly (my hero discovered the hard way that engaging the services of a transvestite prostitute in the local inn where his spouse happened to be drinking was not conducive to wedded bliss). The main quest of Fable 3 is so scanty, you can finish it in less than twenty hours, but most fans will continue well beyond that, and most of that will be spent trying to talk prudish noblemen out of their wigs. Ergo, you cannot feel alone on Valentine’s Day if you spend it guiding an Albion hero through love’s trials and tribulations. Go forth and multiply.

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About the Author

That cranky young wan from award-winning blog, Arse End Of Ireland, Lisa’s also noted for her dedication to cobbling together unrelated imprecations to make new and bemusing insults, mostly because she’s not eloquent enough to otherwise explain her deep-seated terror of genre fiction and Fianna Fail. In 2006, The Irish Times called her “… the most talented writer at work in Ireland today”, and her mam still can’t understand why this is better than being the new Marian Keyes. Which it totally is. Alright? Website Twitter: @SwearyLady Facebook.com/sweary Last FM: LeislVonTrapp

5 Responses to Culch Valentine’s: 5 Video Games For Single Players

  1. Swe.Ge says:

    What about locking your Sim into a room, removing all doors and windows, and watching them go insane with lust and love, eventually pining away, poor things.

  2. dinglesurf says:

    Mass Effect 2 needs a mention. Plenty of pixelated rumpy-pumpy in that. Ergo:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP1gfoVQSyY&w=560&h=315%5D

  3. Laikaa says:

    Fable 3 may be the laziest game I have ever played but I tell you this – seduction in Fable 3 is no easy task at all. I thought I’d never complete that damn quest to seduce ‘Alex’. I very nearly killed him being the difficult, prudish bugger that he was…

  4. Look at Shepard in the Mass Effect video! He’s crosseyed!

    Wasn’t Alex in Fable 2, Laikaa? I would have included Fable 2 over 3 if it wasn’t for the fact that in 2, essentially everyone is in love with you. I can’t walk into Bowerstone without being propositioned by an entire swooning mob.

    Swe.Ge… you’re doing it wrong.

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