Virtual Relationships?


Image source: The Telegraph
Konami Digital Entertainment did not even imagine that it has struck gold with “Love Plus,” a dating simulation game that allows young men to“chase virtual girls in the alternative universe of their digital dreams.” (Source: Inquirer Global Nation) But, it is actually a gold rush.

With the latest augmented reality technology plus voice recognition software,
“Love Plus” gamers would actually forget they are “dating” a make-believe or virtual person. According to Konami, it appeared so real to the gamers that, in fact, “the [virtual] girl can get moody when neglected by a player who is not sufficiently committed, and that she demands attention when she feels unwell.” (Ibid) 



Video of Japanese man marrying his virtual girlfriend.

Since its release, it has become Japan’s hottest dating game. “The hit videogame made headlines when a 27-year-old Japanese man known only as ‘Sal 9000’ staged a tuxedo wedding late last year, which was watched by thousands online, with his favorite cartoon girl, Nene Anegasaki.” (Ibid) It even revived tourism in the resort town of Atami, about 100 kilometers from Tokyo, Japan. Recently, Konami did a two-month “Love Plus” campaign where over 2,000 participants poured in at Atami from as far as South Korea and Taiwan.

The virtual girls in Love Plus. Image source: 2P
Konami thinks the secret to its phenomenal success is that “[it] asks players to build long-term relationships… [It makes] players feel like they are really sharing their life with a girlfriend… The goal is to see how good you can be to her and to build a relationship.” (Ibid) 

I just wonder. If they are that committed to that virtual relationship, why can’t they just invest their time and effort in an actual one? Why don’t they share their lives with real people? Personally, I think that when a virtual relationship goes sour, there seems to be an option to reboot the game. But in a real relationship it is not that easy to start all over again. Also, a computer program can be predictable. But an actual person may not be so. A simulated person can be very accepting unlike a flesh-and-blood one.

When God said,
“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:15, ESV), He did not give Adam a computer. He gave him a companion. Even church fellowships can be risky and make us feel so vulnerable. We can even get hurt. But I believe it is worth it. God designed us to interact with each other and not with an executable file. We are called to belong and not just believe.

My take? Go for real relationships.

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