Romance ain't a bad thing. It can make you feel strongly about a character and want to see them succeed. It can make you relate to the character better.
But in videogames it seems as if the primary purpose of putting romances in the game is entirely wish fulfillment. You have these poorly written caricatures that essentially only represent what the developers think will satisfy the average gamer's bulging erection. they have barely any depth. And it's insulting. Game developers are literally insulting you by carefully crafting these images and dialogue in such a way as to maximize fanboy squeel.
Yes! This! You guys have no idea how cute Merrill is. I work here and and I still squee when she says things I haven't heard.
There's a lot of this in the writer pit:
Merrill (in-game): (something unbelievably cute)
Sheryl: GIGGLESQUEE!!!!! SO CUTE!!!
Mary: Hee hee.
Sheryl: She's so adorable I love her and want to hug her omgIcan'tbelievehowadorablesheisCAN-I-NOM-HER-HEAD?!
Mary: ... No.
Wow I'm fucking shocked that this character is available for romance. With her perfectly plucked eyebrows, her large, inviting, Disney eyes, and her perfectly symmetrical face what more could one want? Oh, also she's socially awkward and naive and innocent. Fuck you.
The thing that really gets me about romance in video games, though, is that it doesn't add anything to the game itself. the romance, like the story, is the side-dish, to distract gamers from the fact that, wow the mechanics of this game are a fucking piece of dogshit.
Since I love picking on Bioware, and all their games suck dick (except Dragon Age: Origins, which is okay), let's take a look at Star Wars: The Old Republic. I played a shitload of that game, got a character up to level 50, was pretty much the best one to ever play the game (not hard: its full of scrubs and losers). Anyway I constantly noticed myself trying to avoid all of the enemy creatures as much as possible. I found myself actually wanting to minimize the amount of actual gameplay that I experienced because it was so fucking bad.
Great game, asshole.
It wasn't just me. Everyone around me was trying to hug walls or just run passed the enemies as much as possible and not get into fights unless it was absolutely needed. Hey, you shitheads, if people are trying to avoid actually playing the game, then maybe you should have actually made it fun to play instead of dressing it up.
Would anyone who bought Star Wars: The Old Republic have even played it that far if there wasn't the dangling carrot of advancing the story, having sex with your companions, and so on? I know I wouldn't. This isn't good. Games should be able to stand on the game play alone, where you can strip out all the graphics, all the sound, all the story, writing, dialogue, and romance, and be enjoyable to play. You should be able to put a game into any setting, with any characters, while keeping the same core gameplay, and have it be genuinely enjoyable
Come the fuck on.