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Controversial new game on the dating scene

Laurel Delany, ‘Doah Staff Writer
February 12, 2014

’DOAH PHOTO COURTESY OF 4.BP.BLOGSPOT.COM

’DOAH PHOTO COURTESY OF 4.BP.BLOGSPOT.COM

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and for many people, it is a pretty grim reminder that they are single. Fortunately for them, Japan’s gaming industry has sprung to patch the leak in the sinking ship of love. For those of you who have trouble interacting with your romantic interest, I present to you the Dating Simulator.

The Dating Simulator, or Dating Sim for short, is a video game genre that simulates the dating process and romance for the player.  The player often has a choice of potential spouses and can woo the one of their choosing in a safe rejection-free environment. If you don’t want to play them on your computer, Dating Sims are readily available on many smart phones. This also enables people to carry their virtual boyfriend or girlfriend around if they feel so inclined.

Since the Dating Sim’s advent, the genre has undergone many changes. Some Dating Sims are text based while others are focused on stats, rendering the person you are pursuing into a “final boss” of sorts.  You can even find Dating Sim’s influence on blockbuster games such as Mass Effect, if you aren’t looking to be so overt about committing yourself to virtual being.

Dating Sims are usually at the center of some controversy due to many reasons. Some people find that they objectify women, some find that they breed delusional behavior in already socially awkward people and some find the graphic sexually nature of some of the mature Dating Sims offensive. Some people have also levied criticism at the popular Dating Sim inspired smartphone app “Stargirl” for promoting materialism. In the game “Stargirl,” one of the objects of the game is to get multiple boyfriends, since each boyfriend will give you a virtual gift every hour.

For many people, Dating Sims are just another stat driven strategy game, for others they are a way to express the romantic feelings they are too shy to express. In 2009, an unnamed Japanese man married a character from his favorite Dating Sim in a ceremony in Guam. While the union is not legally recognized in most places since the character is not a sentient being that exists in the physical world, the ceremony went forward without a hitch and the couple went on to throw a reception in the groom’s native country of Japan.

So if you are feeling a little melancholy this Valentine’s Day, download a Dating Sim on your smartphone. Maybe you will enjoy the stat driven game play, or maybe you will develop an unhealthy attachment to a virtual character.

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