Japan Is Leading The Market Of Virtual Companions With Their Nintendo DS Dating Game

Love Plus has become incredible popular in Japanese cities and has players spending perhaps too much time with their gaming consoles.

Yuuya Iwama is a young Japanese man who enjoy taking his girlfriend Manaka Takane on dates around Tokyo. What makes Manaka special, is that she’s a virtual character found on the dating game Love Plus, which is available on the Nintendo DS portable gaming console. However, just like a real relationship, Iwama can converse with Manaka, reply to her e-mails and go on romantic dates. Love Plus includes over 5,000 scripts, 150 CG events and over 25,000 voice expressions. The game is set in real-time and essentially can be played 24 hours a day for a lifetime. The game only ends when the relationship falters.

Iwama has been ‘dating’ Manaka for over a year and explains that, “She feels as real as my real girlfriend. She is very cute but the most attractive feature is how difficult it is. I have to reply to e-mails. She gets upset if I’m late for dates.”

Love Plus was created by Akari Uchida, who believes that having sentiments for a virtual game character is no stranger than having feelings for characters in novels or TV dramas. At this stage, he has no plans to release Love Plus in English.