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‘I’m in love with someone that doesn’t exist!’ Bleed in the context of a computer game

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It is not unusual for computer games to include romance, but it is unusual for a computer game to create strong romantic reactions in players. In this article I investigate the romantic experience in the game Dragon Age: Origins. Based on an investigation of blog and community comments, I argue that the game creates a ‘bleed’ effect: some players, to some extent, fall in love with the characters that they are romancing in the game. The article identifies some specific aspects of the game design that contribute to the effect; apart from storyline and character design I discuss the desire for safe-zone romance and the phenomena of player projection as contributing to the effect.

Keywords: RPG; bleed; character identification; role play; role-playing game; romance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Stockholm University

Publication date: September 13, 2011

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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