Friday, March 30, 2012

Running a ROM-COM game

Running a ROM-COM game
by Tobie Abad
March 2012

Romantic Comedies, or Rom-Coms as they are popularly referred to, are a regular offering in practically every local cinema.   Movies such as The Break Up, 13 Going On 30, What Women Want, and Unofficially Yours entertain us with the amusing twists and turns that search for true love brings.  In such movies, you typically have characters who remind us of people we know as they experience the misadventures that love inspires, influences or requires.  While most people believe romantic comedies are best left in the movies for their girlfriends to watch while they do more manly (or geeky) affairs, why not embrace this genre as an offering on your next gaming night?  Who knows, this may lead to your significant other gaining a greater appreciation of why you and your buddies are willing to hunker down and stay home on a weekend night?


If you ever find yourself willing (or brave enough) to take a dive in this direction, here are some tips you may find useful in this most likely unexplored territory.

Embrace the Cliches
Romantic Comedies are filled with them.  From the over-worked, serious and independent woman who has no time for something as foolish as love, to the clumsy but determined geeky girl who wants to fit in, characters in romantic comedies are of all shades and colors of cliches.  So what if people have heard of them before or if this makes the characters more predictable?  A romantic comedy is fun because it is predictable, familiar and light.  

This is not to say, however, you cannot have deeper and more complex personalities.  As movies like Amelie, You Got Mail, and 엽기적인 그녀; literally, That Bizarre Girl or more popularly known as the original My Sassy Girl, characters may seem cliche at first but then be revealed to have a much more deeper or richer past.

One massively useful site for this is tvtropes.org.  Trust me, you will find a massive load of information just waiting for you to use in here.  
by origami constructions

Use Contrast
Embrace the power that contrasting characters and concepts can bring.  If your player is interested in playing a shy, nerdy character, make sure the best friend is the socialite popular blonde.  If your players are thinking of being successful independent women, be sure to make the leading man an unemployed handsome hunk with security issues.

Also explore using contrast to heighten scenes.  Maybe whenever the two love birds are apart, things are always messy and complicated.  But the moment they get together, things become wonderfully smooth and calm.    You can even go the opposite and have them all hilariously getting signs they shouldn't be together when they are, but receive all these visual and auditory cues that they should be when apart.

And that brings us to Music
In romantic comedies, music is a very powerful force that you should never ignore.  First, choose a key song to represent the romantic angle you are vying for.  Be sure to search for variations of this song (A Cappella, orchestral strings, maybe even a modern remix) so you can slide it in on scenes when the two love birds happen to have a nice moment.  Try to save the lyrical version for either the game's credits ending, or for a sequence when things seem to be finally working perfect.

Be on the look out as well, for great harmony tracks that can serve as background mood enhancers.  Movies like Julie & Julia, The Girl Who Leapt Throught Time, and My Sassy Girl have nice non-lyrical tracks that can be played during the comedic or cute moments in the game.  But don't overlook using popular songs from artists like Britney Spears, Rihanna, Kylie Minogue and the like to mark a scene down with a specific theme.    Imagine the couple dancing in a club, with the player wondering whether or not the guy is worth her time, and the next few songs playing are Love on Top, We Found Love, and If We Ever Meet Again.  That should throw the player some clues on what direction to take the story.

But before anything else, do your Research
Before you do start a romantic comedy game, one huge thing you should do is interview your players as to what romantic movies they liked the most.  Just as love is defined differently by different people, what constitutes as cute and charming for one person might not match what another would choose, so be sure to take note of what your players would respond to.  It would be pointless to throw stuff you find romantic and force them to respond in the same way if they don't like it.  And for an easy step in that direction, ask from them a list of their top three showbiz crushes.  And be sure to tailor your game's leading (and rival men) to their likeness and personalities.  That is sure to give the game a fun boost of fun that your players themselves will move in the right direction.

Have fun!



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