Real(?) Men, Virtual Girlfriends

The Wall Street Journal has this story about a dating simulation game which is big in Japan.

The men are real. The girls are cartoon characters on a screen. The men have a “relationship” with a character using the Nintendo DS. This is entirely dysfunctional and not that many steps removed from pornography.

The City of Atami, Japan — in an effort to attract business — is trying to attract single men—and their handheld devices. So Atami launched a promotional campaign and more than 1,500 male fans of the Japanese dating-simulation game LovePlus+ traveled to Atami and stayed in hotels with their virtual girlfriends.


According to WSJ:

Love Plus+ re-creates the experience of an adolescent romance. The goal isn’t just to get the girl but to maintain a relationship with her.

After choosing one of three female characters—goodie-goodie Manaka, sassy Rinko or big-sister type Nene—to be a steady girlfriend, the player taps a stylus on the DS touch-screen in order to walk hand-in-hand to school, exchange flirtatious text messages and even meet in the school courtyard for a little afternoon kiss. Using the device’s built-in microphone, the player can carry on sweet, albeit mundane, conversations.

If the real-life Romeo earns enough “boyfriend power” points—by completing game tasks like homework or exercise to become smarter and more buff—the reward is a virtual trip to Atami.

In the game, the couple tours the local landmarks. The girlfriend changes into a yukata, a casual summer kimono, to go see the fireworks, and then they stay overnight at the Hotel Ohnoya. It is known for its cavernous, white-columned baths in the style of Ancient Rome.

So it recreates adolescent romance but is used by males who are no longer adolescents.  This is what passes for masculinity.

But let’s be honest: it’s not just happening in Japan, is it?

Here in the States grown men act like teens quite often; unwilling to be men in the situations and relationships which cry out for it. And our culture caters to that form of false masculinity.

How about some real relationships instead of “relationships” with cartoon characters simulated from a video game? How about real skills in how to deal with women?

As men we are trapped playing games and simulating life rather than actually living it.

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