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How intimacy coordinators improved romance scenes in Baldur's Gate III
A little less conversation, a little more coordination.
July 27, 2023
2 Min Read
For Baldur's Gate III, Larian Studios used intimacy coordinators to help with its romantic scenes. In a recent interview with BBC, voice actors Devora Wilde (who voices Lae'zel) and Jennifer English (Shadowheart) revealed the coordinators were brought on to help actors feel more comfortable acting out the more amorous moments.
Intimacy coordinators are common in movies and TV shows for romantic scenes, and help ensure no boundaries are crossed during filming. Last year's Immortality from Half Mermaid used coordinators, but that had live-action segments and human actors.
In recent weeks, Baldur's Gate III has received particular attention for the romantic moments that occur between companions, either with each other or the player. Larian told BBC it believed it was "one of the first" studios to use intimacy coordinators on a fully-rendered game, and hopes the practice will spread to other developers.
English admitted that while there was initial awkwardness from recording the game's story, she never "felt 'yuck' in a session at all." Wilde echoed that sentiment, saying she was glad Larian made the effort to seek out intimacy coordinators.
Love, sex, and video games
The relationship that video games have with romance, particularly mainstream ones, is complicated and has grown over time. Much of that stems from the 2000s, when a game could feature an extremely brief love scene and have a stigma attached to it and its developer.
In recent years, RPG developers (like Larian) have made it a point to highlight their games' romantic options as part of the marketing. Not every game with these options has sex as the end point of a quest line, but the consummation of a relationship is often treated as a significant turning point in the context of the game.
For example, CD Projekt Red highlighted the romance scenes in Cyberpunk 2077, saying they would maintain the game's normal first-person perspective.
Intimacy and romance have become thorny subjects in recent years owing to reasons that extend outside the medium, especially for triple-A games. But in the case of Baldur's Gate III and similar titles of its ilk, having intimacy coordinators on hand has been a long time coming.
About the Author(s)
Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com
A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.
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