Re-enacting a dating sim in Japan

The title of this piece in the WSJ says it all: Only in Japan, Real Men Go to a Hotel With Virtual Girlfriends.

Given the stereotypes that exist about Japanese games, it’s somewhat appropriate that this story came up soon after our thread about visual novels (although in this case, it’s referring to a dating sim rather than a visual novel).

My favourite part of the story:

In Atami, the Love Plus+ fans—mostly men in their twenties and thirties—stand out. Unlike the deeply tanned beach crowd wearing very little, they are often pasty and overdressed for the heat in heavy jeans and button-down shirts.

No, no. My favorite line is:

Alas, the boom ends this month, when the imaginary characters have to go back to school.

Salon has an article about the same thing.

… and if you scroll down a bit you can read about the truly grotesque - RapeLay.

C’on Japan your creeping us out.

RapeLay can’t even be classed with the creepiest of rape games from Japan.

Wait, what? They have built creepier stuff than RapeLay?

Man, I am so out of the loop. I didn’t even know rape games existed. Between those, virtual girlfriends, and the panties in vending machines, I think I’ve figured out why the marriage rate is dropping in Japan.

Do you subscribe to a newsletter or something?

Sometimes I hang out on the wrong side of the tracks.

These rape games are going to be all the rage in academic circles. I predict it. Give it a few years.

“I graduated with a Major in Rape and a minor in Communications”

Seriously. This is just like when people thought GTA3 invented open-world games.

Wait, what? Are you suggesting that those of us in academics are more likely to have rape fantasies? Or do you just mean that this warrants some sociological study?

You know, Robert, sort of like Second Life.

Love Plus is kind of awesome for what it is (though make no mistake, what it is is not awesome). The voice acting and visuals are best-in-class for the DS! And it makes you whisper “I love you” into the microphone.

What happens if you whisper “You’re not real” in the same dulcet tones? Or even anything much less polite?

Man, you guys have no idea what you’re missing out on outside of Japan…

… :)

Yeah.

That statement (which I don’t doubt is true) is just…gaaaaahhhh!

… And days and days later, the original article is still at the top of the “most emailed” list on the WSJ homepage.