Virtual Partners

There are many opportunities out there for individuals to explore when looking for a partner. Some more common than others; we’ve heard of blind dates, speed dating, and the oh-so-poplar online dating – but what about video game dating?

Thanks to my older sister, I recently read a rather intriguing article from The Wall Street Journal about real men establishing relationships with virtual women.

The relationship starts with a simple purchase of a videogame. This game, designed to be played on a Nintendo DS, is called Love Plus+ and is becoming popular among Japan’s gamer audience.

In order to start the process, the gamers select one out of the three virtual characters (described in the article as “goodie-goodie Manaka, sassy Rinko or big-sister type Nene”) to be their girlfriend and the game allows the men to re-create the experience of an adolescence relationship.

Once establishing a relationship, by a simple tap of the DS touch-screen, the gamer and his sweetheart are able to exchange “flirtatious text messages,” share kisses and conversations,  walk hand in hand – and much more.  Eventually, if the boyfriend can dazzle his digital companion enough, the reward is a virtual trip to Atami – a romantic resort town located in Japan.

Yet for some gamers, a virtual trip just doesn’t cut it, they want the real thing.

In result, the city of Atami has launched a promotional campaign back in July in order to re-create the virtual getaway experienced in the videogame. The trip, which is real (not to mention expensive), allows the gamer and his date to tour the landmarks of Atami as well as stay at the famous Hotel Ohnoya.

Atami’s outcome was more than promising; more than 1,500 men visited Atami in order to spend time with their Love Plus+ virtual girlfriends.

My Reaction

My response to the article took me by surprise, because I’m a bit torn at the videogame’s purpose. I still can’t pinpoint where I stand on the whole ‘virtual partner’ thing.

There’s the practical side of Madeline, where I read the article and think it is somewhat madness. Rather than curing the gamers’ loneliness, this action of dating something that virtual will only farther separate the gamer form experiencing a real relationship.

Then there’s the sappy side of Madeline, where I consider it none of my business and figure people should be able to do (or date) what makes them happy. When it comes to dating or finding happiness, who am I to say what is normal? So why not enjoy the game?

Like I said before, the article is rather intriguing. So if you have any input on the matter, feel free to express it here, we’d love to hear it.

Follow us on twitter @mysexprofessor. You can also follow Madeline Haller, the author of this post, @voiceMLINE.

About Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller is an Assistant Editor for MensHealth.com. Haller received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University, with a second concentration in gender studies. When she's not writing for MSP/MH, you can find her running, enjoying a cup of coffee, or searching for the perfect shade of red lipstick.

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    I’m confused. Is the partner real or fictional?
    It reads to me as though the female character is only one of three (busy girls!) so how do they have a real visit to Atami?
    Either way, I’m still of the ‘each to their own’ mind. We all have personal choices to make, and as long as it’s not hurting anyone else,, there’s no reason to be critical of it.

  • http://twitter.com/voiceMLINE Madeline Haller

    Sorry for the confusion! Yet I too was a bit confused when I first read the article, but reading it over once more I realized that the partner is fictional, but the trips tat some men are going on are real.

    Since the hype surrounding the video game continued to grow, Atami decided to capitalize off of this unique opportunity. They have special deals for those who are visiting to take the Love Plus+ tours; therefore the men visit the beautiful sights of Atami while bring along their virtual date (the videogame).