There are many of them, many, many reasons why people play video games. Sometimes it’s a challenge; the second time is for the story. It can be for comfort, for nostalgia, for new experiences, for fun, for distraction, even for learning a thing or two. Me? I play for friends I make along the way.
It could be meme, but it’s not a joke. Not really. Sure, the gameplay provides all those other benefits, but sometimes, it often falls on the characters that make me have to rise higher. Nowhere is this so widespread as in Mass effect trilogy. Having a main character (play FemShep, always) who walked and communicated with the crew between missions, the game encouraged players to establish relationships with them. There’s a reason Garrus Vakarian still rules like an internet boy bird dinosaur (tell me more about those calibrations, Garrus), and it all has to do with BioWare writers who understand the connections players make with their characters – and with the Citadel DLC.
DLC Citadel arose from hard times. After complaining about the ending Mass Effect 3 (it was bad), BioWare not only rewrote the conclusion, but also released additional downloadable content to cheer up fans. Not all of this DLC was ideal (looking at you, From the ashes), but the Citadel was a matter of beauty. It’s basically hours and hours of character-based play, and it’s just hanging out with friends. It is so filled with jokes and squishy seriousness that it could be a whole mission dedicated to characters who braid each other’s hair. (I’m sad now that there are no hair braiding scenes.)
The citadel was also unusual. I didn’t appreciate it at the time (I was still treating Massive the trilogy hole remained in my heart), but the DLC was truly unique. It gave vent between very intense missions, and it also provided something that very few AAA titles give players: socializing. Understandably, game developers – who already work long hours to kick out games – may not want to spend extra time creating a bunch of sensitive moments, but it’s time to realize that this is what many gamers do to do to want. They want more friendships, more opportunities for love, more personal content in the game. Or at least I know. Video games, unlike other forms of storytelling, such as TV or film, are a place for fans I can they communicate with the characters with whom they have established parasocial relationships. The fact that more games don’t have content that could take advantage of that is a bit ridiculous.
Honestly, it is surprising that at this point in the evolution of DLC with the options of games, friendship and romance has not become a thing. Exploiting an intensive fandom has been a big deal since the media began, and this seems like a huge untapped market. Admittedly, Citadel DLC was a free download from BioWare, but honestly, I would pay money for content like this. Surely many other people would. I know I said that was done with DLC, but it was different. It was about playing. This is about giving me – and others like me – something different: a new kind of game.
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