How would you feel if your boyfriend or husband had a virtual girlfriend? I don’t mean what if he had a relationship with someone, as in a real person; I’m talking about a digitally animated girlfriend “brought to life” through Nintendo DS. There’s a new, popular dating sims (or dating simulation) video game on the market called Love Plus and, according to Boing Boing, an article posted on a Japanese tech site in September reported that several women had complained that their family lives were disrupted by their husbands’ addiction to the game. Boing Boing spoke with one San Francisco couple, Koh and Yurie, who say that Koh’s one-week addiction to his virtual girlfriend on Love Plus was “gross,” but basically harmless. The “relationship” included some simulated hand-holding and attempts at kissing, but mostly just talking, which may actually be the biggest draw for most men who play the game. Koh explains:
“The girl also talks a lot. You hear her voice at every part of the game. A lot of dating sims are mostly text, but this one has a real humanistic side to it. I think this comes down to the fact that men are simple. This is obviously a computer program, but this makes us really feel like there’s a girl inside the DS. It feels dangerous, like I might get sucked into this world. Some guys on the Internet are saying that their Love Plus relationships feel more real. They feel like they’re with their girlfriend every day. I kinda get it.”
To her credit, Koh’s wife, Yurie, says she’s not bothered by her husband’s virtual “relationship,” explaining that her concern is less about the content of the game and more about the time he spends playing it. Luckily, Koh’s experiment with Love Plus lasted only the duration of his one-week business trip back to Japan, where the couple is originally from. As soon as he got home, back to his “real woman,” he lost interest in the game. He does warn, however, that for men not in real-life relationships, the pull of the game may be hard to ignore.
“… the danger I felt when I almost got sucked into Love Plus was very human. If I was single and had gotten too into this… I don’t know, I recognized that there was a me in there that could have a real attachment to this artificial character on the other side of the DS screen.”
Koh thinks this kind of easy attachment to something artificial has something to do with “the simplicity of men” and would be curious what kind of effect a “boy version” would have on women. Yurie replies that “most women would be able to clearly distinguish between real life and in-game life.” I’d have to concur, but it does raise an interesting question: If most women can clearly distinguish between real life and in-game life, can women still get jealous when the “other woman” isn’t real? [via Boing Boing]