One of the first things that popped into my head when I was brainstorming ideas for my Manic Pixie Dream Girl dating sim was the notion of the Grand Romantic Gesture as portrayed in Hollywood and on television.
They are meant to be sweet and endearing, but they are often creepy and coercive… especially those that take place in public. They essentially dare the recipient of the gesture to spurn the advances of the gesturer (go ahead and see what happens… all of these people will think you are a bitch). Take, for example, the Sporting Event Marriage Proposal.* Listen to the people in the background shouting “Yes is the answer!” and then grumbling and booing when she runs away. And if you want an extra dose of sadness, read the comments under the video.
The comedy writers at Cracked know all about the Grand Romantic Gesture.
I immediately knew that I wanted to send up the kind of thinking that leads to these gestures in my game.
The scenario I’m contemplating is this: the Player Character, CJ, finds out that the love interest has a date. CJ decides to go all in on a Grand Romantic Gesture and starts researching famous examples on the Internet. Players will choose between scenarios like:
the Say Anything boombox gesture
or The Graduate dramatic interruption gesture
In a typical dating sim, one of these would be the “right” choice, the one one secret move that unlocks her heart and tears her away from her date.
But in my game, neither one of these choices will work. Instead, both of them will result in her getting mad at CJ for attempting to circumvent her own choices in public and embarrassing (and, in some respects, aggressive) ways. There is no secret cheat code that will get a woman who doesn’t love you to start. In fact, trying to manipulate and pressure someone into loving you is a great sign of disrespect. It is an attempt to control the other person, not a demonstration that you love them as they truly are.
Do you have other suggestions for Grand Romantic Gestures I should shoot down in this game? Let me know in the comments!
* Note that many believe that this proposal was a stunt to promote his documentary film. The filmmaker claims that the incident was real and was actually the inspiration for the film. But whether or not the incident was real, I chose this example because of the reaction of the audience at the game. They were not in on the prank, if it was a prank, and their reaction demonstrates the kind of pressure that public Grand Romantic Gestures put on women.