Friday, 27 January 2012

Transactional relationships

A discussion started in guild chat last night about our companion relationships. Was there something slightly disturbing in our ongoing affection-building: 'Here this is my gift to you. Now sod off and do this mission.' Considering the reaction to the Sith intentional cruelty to their Twi'lek companion, perhaps we're not too bad (the story even made the Daily Mail *shudder*).

I commented, partly in jest, that aren't most relationships like that? I'm afraid the legacy of a hectic few weeks at work hung over that remark - I'm busy, I'm running around, but here's my salary so off I go running again. I've been studying some eighteenth-century literature recently, where the nature of the transactional relationships between the characters can be truly overt, and we can roll back to the patronage of the Roman empire. And this dynamic continues in subtler forms through the centuries. But in TOR we are back to a blatant transaction - although I am, of course, buying the affections of a range of sexes, races and robotic affections.

But perhaps this is not a new thing. Because we are encouraged (in English at least) to put a worth to our friendships - I value you as a friend, I treasure our friendship. I tend to talk about high-maintenance and low-maintenance friendships, the language of property fees and the divorce settlement (was that coined in When Harry met Sally btw?).

And I suppose in a game of so many roles, it is difficult to have a term that works across the classes - perhaps for a mercenary bounty hunter or smuggler, it's far more appropriate to buy affection so openly. Betraying my ignorance of the Imperial side, how do your dark-to-the-core Sith feel about their companion's adoration?

It's a strange mechanic, but we are caught in a companion relationship that has to have a numeric value, so the digital dice can be rolled and our crit chance or whatever be judged.

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