Virtual Girlfriend, Real Vacation
Young men in Japan take videogame GF’s on expensive trips.
Some men are so romantic! They take their girlfriends on romantic getaways to island resorts, treat them to fancy meals and tuck them in at expensive hotels. Just one problem. The vacations are real – the girlfriends are virtual.
In a story that’s equal parts creepy, sad and sci-fi-scary, the Wall Street Journal reports on a popular Japanese video game (offering simulated “girlfriend experiences”) that’s partnered with the resort town of Atami so that real-life gamers can take their imaginary GF’s on vacay.
This is truly taking your relationship to the next level. And that level is called Norman Bates.
According to the WSJ, more than 1,500 young Japanese men traveled to Atami in the first month of the promotion alone. The guys fork over up to $500 a night for the privilege of a (real) hotel room made up for two, a stamp in their official game passport and a chance to take jealously-inducing vacation photos with their virtual girlfriends superimposed next to them.
(Can you imagine the slideshow at that wedding? “Oh, the bride looks so thin!”)
In the video game, Love Plus +, men choose one of three Japanese schoolgirls to be their animated girlfriends. The adolescent girls (Nene has bangs, Manaka has a bob, Rinko’s in pig tails) sport sailor uniforms and keep things clean – no sexual contact except for a chaste smooch here and there. The guys can “hold” their gf’s hands, text them while they’re in “class” and meet in the school commons to “kiss” (which they initiate by pressing a button on the screen).
The gamers job isn’t just to win them young women, but to continually woo them – success comes from spoiling their virtual girlfriends rotten. (Maybe we shouldn’t judge this thing too quickly.) Men earn “boyfriend points” by helping with homework or exercising to look hot – if they neglect their ladies or forget their birthdays, the girls give them the silent treatment.