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Who is your video game Valentine?

Pour one out for the NPCs we can’t bone

Mass Effect: Andromeda romance Electronic Arts
Simone de Rochefort has been producing & hosting YouTube videos for Polygon since 2016. She co-directed the upcoming documentary The Great Game: The Making of Spycraft.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and for some of us that means curling up on the couch for an intimate night with a beloved game. Maybe you’ll use this sacred day to stuff chalky candy hearts in your mouth and revisit your favorite love interest. Perhaps you will be lulled to sleep by Garrus Vakarian’s sultry musings about calibrations.

The perfect end to a perfect day.

But cruel fate dealt us a raw deal. There are many NPCs who will neither kiss, flirt, nor fuck your avatar. What is to be done?

Let’s take a moment to put on some smooth jazz and remember all the NPCs that remain off-limits to our horny hearts. Here are some of the Polygon staff’s favorite non-romanceable NPCs.

Susana Polo

From the moment that Varric Tethras walked on screen in Dragon Age 2, pinned the man who'd just pick-pocketed me to a stone wall with a single arrow, punched him in the face, shouldered a crossbow the size of his torso and then sauntered leisurely up to me — spinning an arrow between his fingers, deep V-neck tunic revealing about an acre of chest hair — to hand me back my purse ...

I knew I had to fuck him.

He was not one of the game's romanceable characters.

It only got worse from there.

I found out that Varric was set up to be my best friend and biggest cheerleader, regardless of whatever political decisions I made during the game. I found out that he was a storyteller, a guy who crafted outlandish tales of my adventures when I needed the good publicity but turned around and wrote a best-selling tell-all novel when the world needed to know the actual truth about me.

Dragon Age 2 - Varric Tethras
Varric Tethras, seen here with his expanse of chest hair.
BioWare/Electronic Arts

I found out that he respects women — that he was his alcoholic mother's caretaker while his brother ran the family business, and that instead of encouraging a friend to not take walks after dark, he spent his own money to pay off all the mobs in town to not mug her. I found out that despite his studied air of indifference, he's a terrible spymaster because he invests himself too much in the lives of his agents. I found out that for a guy who has a sarcastic retort for any insinuation that he has altruistic or loving feelings, he gives all of his friends nicknames because he believes if "you give a thing a name, it's yours forever."

He was a companion character for two straight Dragon Age games, and you could not romance him.

It is the greatest goddamn tragedy in video games for me personally.

Ben Kuchera

So listen, keep in mind I was 22 when the game came out. But Orta. Orta forever. I wrote this for her 17 years ago:

Dear Orta,

I realize that you've spent all of your life held captive because you're like a bred weapon or something, but I think you're really cute. The gray hair owns me, and the fact that its cut so it comes to a point under your face is bad ass beyond description. Not having a lot of human interaction, you may not realize it, but you're really hot.

Orta, Panzer Dragon Orta
There she is...

You probably haven't been on many dates since you've been locked up since you were born, but if you went out with me I would totally pay for the movie (we could go see Dragonheart, Reign of Fire, or, erm, Willow or something) and afterwards we can find a secluded spot and have a few drinks and get to know each other. It'd be really fun, and I'll make you a mix tape and stuff.

I'm guessing that you and the dragon are just friends, but if you could tell him not to bite my head off if I tried to put my arm around you, it would be really great and I would appreciate it. I promise to be a perfect gentleman. Also, can I try firing your weird organic bone-looking gun thing? My roommate has a few rifles and we can trade and take turns killing things. It'll be a really good time.

So Orta, will you go out with me? Check yes or no.




Allegra Frank

Animal Crossing is, to my mind, a perfect game. It has but one problem: You can't date any of the villagers.

With cuties like Bob, Stitches and Hamlet in the mix, that's a real shame. I would spend hours crafting love letters to my friendliest neighbors, the cutest animals I wanted to kiss all up on.

Animal Crossing New Leaf
None of them can kiss.

My biggest crush was K.K. Slider, though, one of the NPCs you had the least direct contact with. Of course it was. He's a singing vagrant, a professional cool guy who will sing just for you, whatever you want. He's gifted, emotional and insightful. Just thinking about that canine troubadour makes me all warm inside. I listen to recordings of his songs just to feel less alone sometimes, I kid you not.

Don't @ me about how he's an animal and Animal Crossing makes you play as a human. My life, my rules. K.K. Slider's a total babe, and I'll always pine for him.

Colin Campbell

Queen Victoria.

I've always been overly ambitious in my crushes, and so it is with dear, dear Vicky. After all, she's the most powerful woman who ever lived, Empress to more souls than any posturing Caesar or canting President.

In Civilization 6, she is not the flittish gal of recent TV drama, with crown a-wobble and scepter trembling. Nor is she the frumpish, scowling dowager of famed daguerreotypes.

She is a woman in full: opulent, regal, shining with life.

Queen Victoria Civilization 6
2K Games

Despite her haughty sneer — she really is quite the most appalling snob — there are signs of animal desire. When I am near her, she wears a slight sheen of sweat on her upper lip, a secret indication (to my mind) of carnal wantonness. I suspect her of entertaining dark fantasies as she brushes a fan against her exquisitely perfumed bosom.

When she is angry, her magnificence blooms into terrifying efflorescence. I long to grovel among her skirts, to beg her forgiveness. When she is contrite, her coquettish dishonesty is entirely beguiling. She does nothing, gives nothing, outside her terrible designs. She despises me. I am used by her, like a thing.

In defeat, she wears humility poorly. In victory, she is absolutely her own sublime self. I worship her.

Simone de Rochefort

I was robbed of the ability to fuck Yosuke. It is the greatest offense that has ever been committed against me.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is rife with beautiful, charismatic ladies that you can date. I love ladies! But why would I want to be with a complex, well-written female character when I could instead romance a walking pile of garbage with major internalized homophobia?


Yosuke Persona 4 Golden
He is beautiful, useless and gay
Atlus USA

I’m not allowed to talk about Yosuke around my friends anymore, because apparently it makes me sound really creepy, but Yosuke wants to kiss me. I swear he does! It’s common knowledge in the Persona fandom that Yosuke has some deleted lines that imply that he was conceived as a dateable character, an option which did not make it into the final game.

As a queer person, it’s impossible for me to play Persona 4 without seeing buttloads of subtext between the (always male) player character and Yosuke. He is my gay golden goose. I will not rest until he is the confirmed bisexual that I know him to be in my filthy heart of hearts.

Yosuke, I’m waiting.