Virtual dating game
Voltage estimates that a quarter of its 40 million players are overseas.The company has already adapted 33 games for the North American market, and three years ago, it opened a San Francisco office. Where Nameless allows the gamer to play matchmaker, My Virtual Boyfriend, an American app, takes a more direct approach, providing a wide selection of male sims that peer out and speak to the player in a pseudo-relationship setup.
“[They enjoy] our content like they would reading comics or watching TV,” Kitajima explains.The characters’ neatly packaged archetypes (the seducer, the shy guy) belie complex themes of abandonment and abuse.With Yuna’s guidance, the characters can find happy endings, or not.“Whether I create a catastrophic couple or the happiest couple is really up to me,” she explains.“It’s like I understand them.” last year found that nearly 40 percent of single Japanese millennials were not interested in romantic relationships, describing them as “bothersome.” And in the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2014 that there were now more single people in the country than married ones.For millennial women, in other words, the status quo is undergoing a seismic shift, one that engineers at gaming companies are busy mapping.Yuna says the appeal of virtual romance games lies in the dreamlike world they offer.
“Women have a common frustration that they cannot enjoy romantic situations like those in virtual games,” she says.
“[These apps] give me a chance to hide away from my real life, in which I don’t have a boyfriend,” Mook says.
“And by playing these games, it hurts nobody.”Yuna, a programmer who lives in the suburbs of Tokyo (we’ve changed her name here), has been playing virtual romance games since a friend introduced her to Nameless—The One Thing You Must Recall, an app made by Cheritz, a South Korean gaming company.
“They usually pick the alpha malefirst, which is more of a bad-boytype,” Amerson says.
He usually replies with: “Next time, try the nice guy or geek personality, if you want someone to love you for who you are.”Even in the world of virtual romance, love takes practice.
“These games might help solve issues in your love life, as they make you see and understand new perspectives about love,” says Mook.