Thousands of Japanese men have a virtual girlfriend named Rinko
A dating video game called LovePlus is hugely popular in Japan.
The first is sex dolls. Then there’s the love pillow (slightly NSFW). The latest inanimate object to capture the hearts of Japanese bachelors is Love Plus star Rinko, a video game that simulates the experience of a relationship.
Proving that Her is basically several Google patents rather than a documentary, the Nintendo DS game allows players to develop a relationship with any (or all) of Love Plus’ three “girlfriends”: Rinko, Nene, and Manaka. According to a detailed description of the game by The Huffington Post, LovePlus has gained a loyal following around the world, mostly shy or inexperienced men, who use the game as a real-life interpersonal relationship training ground.
Phillip Galbraith, an anthropologist who studies Japanese culture, said of the game: “You’re always — always — that warmth, that smile and that kind of thing you can touch with your fingers. Happiness.” “The relationship pays off immediately and always pays off. You don’t have to give too much to the game, it gives you every time you turn on the machine.
Developed by a Tokyo-based game company in 2009, LovePlus is set in a high school in the fictional Japanese city. Players play as a teenager who woos one of the three girls he meets at school: Rinko (favorite player), Nene or Manaka. Players can earn Boyfriend Points by helping their girlfriends with their homework, buying them beautiful gifts on their birthdays, or taking them on vacations (both virtual and real).
Although the besties in LovePlus have different personalities, their actions seem fairly limited: they only speak standard phrases, and any sex with them is limited to first and second base. While HuffPo says girlfriends are designed to mimic the “expectations and traits of real women,” it sounds like the game’s designers had some very outdated and sexist ideas about what those traits should look like: when they do something, they beat their boyfriends. Dislikes, such as buying an unsatisfactory gift, blushing and smirking when they do something that makes them happy.
Three versions of the game (the fourth version came out in January) have sold over 600,000 copies worldwide: an impressive but not overwhelming number. Still, LovePlus appears to offer real therapeutic benefits to its users: One gamer with Asperger’s syndrome cited in the article said she saw her three-year relationship with Manaka as an opportunity to hone her social skills.
While people may be intimidated by the idea of a “virtual girlfriend” or the obnoxious and outdated gender stereotypes that LovePlus reinforces, it’s hard to deny that Rinko, Nene and Manaka are really helping their friends establish themselves in the dating world Find your way – who doesn’t need a little help these days?