I've often lamented the lack of the Romance genre in videogames, if only because it really feels like a yawning gap when you see how huge the genre is in TV, Film, Books, Magazines, Theatre, Opera, Art...
So why is it quite so missing in videogames? Lumping Romance with Sex / Porn, I mean, sure - Kratos has fantasy threesome sex offscreen. There's Leisure Suit Larry. Plenty of hentai stuff that doesn't turn up on your average "videogames" search. Tons of crappy XXX dot exes out there.
Then there are just lovely, tiny, bits of romance within many Japanese RPGs - Final Fantasy, and I'm enjoying the little bits present in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon at the moment (again, third playthrough!). Some very boiled-down to the basics stuff in The Sims.
But it's a pretty empty genre overall. Someone very wise once said to me, when we were discussing this problem:
Games, I believe, are about agency. Not always choice, but certainly a
form of agency or control. And so in games where romance is a
narrative device, it's going to get problematic if I (the player)
disagree with my character's romantic interest. "Yes, I know that the
linear arc of the game is going to make me ('Bella') sleep with
Edward, but I ('Tom') think he's a manipulative fuck!". I would want
to fight the game arc then.
There's a lot more too, to say on the subject: reading and watching romance is one thing, but playing it? Interactively?
So it's with joy that I hear that the megabrains of MARTIN HOLLIS - yes, GoldenEye Martin - and JANE PINCKARD - yes, gamegirladvance Jane - have decided to work it out and chronicle attempts in the field. With friends.
Have a look: DiRoLab, the Digital Romance Lab.