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Game Narrative Summit: Kindness Coins, or Chemistry Casino? A New Take On Romantic/Sexual Narrative Design

Michelle Clough  (Writer & Narrative Designer, Talespinners)

Location: Room 3016, West Hall

Date: Monday, March 21

Time: 4:40 pm - 5:10 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Game Narrative

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: Yes

The popular term "kindness coins" describes the transactional nature of many romantic or sexual relationships in games: do enough "nice things" for an NPC until they "reward" the PC with love or sex. But what if there was an approach that allowed for more narrative flexibility, more opportunity for player role play, more agency and character development for NPCs, and most importantly, more meaningful or erotic relationship arcs? What if core loops and narrative arcs weren't based on generic "kindness" or "flirts" but on character-specific chemistry? What if romance and attraction can be triggered in EVERY game system, not just dialogue? And to make it really spicy, how can writers and designers incorporate a little romantic random chance into the mix? This talk will explore these questions and more while presenting two useful new models for moving beyond kindness coins: the chemistry card tower, and the chemistry casino.


Attendees will leave with a new framework for writing and designing romantic/sexual content in games, with similar structure but more flexibility and more character/narrative weight than "kindness coins." Attendees will also learn how to incorporate "random chance" in romantic/sexual narrative, both on a design level and a writing level.

Intended Audience

This talk is geared towards game writers and narrative designers working on non-linear romantic or sexual game content, or who are interested in integrating romance and sex in their game's design. It's also useful for game designers, artists, and anyone interested in romance and sex in game systems and narrative.