Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stay Up Too Late and the Stuff You Find.....

So there I was, 2 am in the morning, sleepless after seeing The American, after writing for a few hours, and being ignored by my cats when appealing for love and comfort. So I'm looking around on Mashable, for reasons unknown, and what do I find? You may remember the weird story from last December about the guy who married a video game. Yeah, you read that right. A real guy, with the internet name Sal 9000, married a virtual girl, with the virtual name Nene Anegasaki. She exists in a Konami Nintendo* dating sim game called LovePlus. That's one of those games where you have a virtual pet, I mean a girl, and interact with it. Because having a real pet, I mean girl, would be way beyond you at present. Kind of like Nintendo Dog (most of which starved and were unhappy in the care of children in my home) or a Tomagachi Pet. Except this guy was playing with a girl, and had a faux ceremony to marry her. I mean, if that doesn't work out for him, I'm sure that he's just a failure at relationships. 

But surely you say, this is a joke. Not the game, but people having these relationships with their game, nay, toy, girls. Well think again people. Right there on Mashable, what do I see? "Japanese Resort Caters to Men with Virtual Girlfriends". And we're not talking a resort for Sal 9000 on his lonesome. The otaku who play these games will even pony up money to visit a Konami partnered resort where they call up digital images of 'their' girl by scanning bar codes of her. The resort is in Atami, a city on the coast. Atami is a fading resort town that's undergoing resurgence as a so-called bedroom community for Tokyo and Yokohama. According to Mashable's source article in Discovery News young men on the beaches of the Atami resort don't even bother looking at the real girls in their teeny-weeny bikinis 'frolicking in the sand'. No, they are much more concerned with their Nintendo, or the iPhone version of LovePlus babes. And you know what? MoneyTimes says that 430,000 of these games have been sold in Japan. What that's going to do so much for the social future of Japan, isn't it?

You can go to the Konami LovePlus site and see a map of all the little LovePlus pets of Japan. You can zoom in and see all the concentration of LovePlus Sim girls (I've yet to see a guy) all over the area around Tokyo, Yokohama and Atami.

There are only three character girls, Nene, Rinko and Manaka, and they are identified by characteristics as detailed as their blood type. And the user can mold their sim girl, so that she will be what he wants her to be, appear as he wishes her to appear. It looks as if some of the guys go for the traditional Japanese girl sim. And some appear to go for the pert, posing girl sim.

Or how about the guys that have a service mentality about the girl of their dreams? Waitress? Housemaid in the little black and white dress? Or rather more disturbing, apparently the girl of their dreams is like literally, a girl. A little girl. Or a doll-like girl. I noted quite a few of these girls appear to be in school uniforms. I'm hoping that's because the people playing with them are school boys and school girls, who are just lonely. Because, really, while I guess it's better for some adult guy to be obsessing over virtual school-age girls than real ones, I'm just wondering what's going to happen when they wake up some day and feel unfulfilled with a virtual girl and want a real one and find out that she has real thoughts, feelings and opinions. Who's going to program that girl for them, I wonder?

I have to say that given the fact that this is the same culture, sadly, that developed the heinous game Rapelay, I guess one should just be glad that there's no violence in this game. But does it trouble anybody else that there's a subculture that would rather relate to a virtual girl than a real one? That someone would be so enamored of a game character and so dysfunctional at age 27 that they'd 'marry' a virtual character? I mean, it's way beyond Philip K. Dick and androids, people, because you can't even touch these girls, although you can be sure that their blood type is one that is appropriate for your social needs. (That's a whole subtopic for discussion right there....) 

Anyway, I hope that Sal and Nene are getting along. I tried to find out, by doing a Google search, if they were still happy together. Well, I guess Nene is happy by design. But I could only find people still talking about how novel it was to have married your sim girl. Personally, I still have a lot of questions about what it all means for relationships, and marriage and especially about sex, since LovePlus girls are not, um, fully functional (Konami has been very firm about not getting into any porno elements with this game.) So yeah, I wonder about that sexless marriage Sal9000 got himself into and how that's working for him. Because really, he's got some serious issues if that's the best he thinks he can do. There's probably some plastic blowup doll out there that could be programmed or something. The Nene 9000?

Okay, maybe not a big enough step toward his social recovery.... Yeah, I know... e_e, as the Cynical Nymph would say.

But wait, wait, I'm not done yet with the whole virtual women thing. Oh no, it was a busy night.

Another article with virtual girls and virtual women, is this one, also from Discovery News, in which men experience female body awareness by virtue of a stereo headset and headphones. The experiment involved being in a virtual room with a virtual girl, a virtual woman and either being the girl or being a man watching the two virtual females. A study group of 24 men was divided in half, and one half were allowed to retain their own male perspective while the other half experienced the perspective of being in the girl's body. The woman strokes the seated girl's shoulder and after several minutes, unexpectedly slaps her several times. Some of the men had the feeling of the visual strokes of the woman's hand prior to the slap in synchrony with physical stroking or patting and those participants really felt as if they had been slapped when the virtual woman slapped the virtual girl. Researchers termed it a body-swap illusion. I term it Avataresque and freaky. Although a very evil part of me wonders if maybe we can get guys to walk around and feel like they are women more often and in rich detail, so they develop a bit more empathy. Can we make them feel crampy and bloaty? How's about making them feel like it takes so much more energy to get all dressed up on days when you're tired and down? Or what about what it feels like to walk around in those killer heels for four or five hours. Yep, I'm in an evil mood... It's a Tuesday that feels like a Monday and that just can't be good.

*On a completely different note, with respect to that campaign by Raise Hope for Congo and letters to electronic equipment manufacturers, look at this magnificent piece of spin engineered at Nintendo:


On behalf of Nintendo I appreciate the opportunity to respond. Nintendo does not purchase any metals as raw materials. As a remote purchaser that buys finished components made from many materials, Nintendo requires its suppliers to comply with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Procurement Guidelines, which stipulate suppliers comply with applicable laws, have respect for human rights, and conduct their business in an appropriate and fair manner.


Dervin Camden
Nintendo of America Inc.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010


  1. As an interesting side-note - the part where the girls are classified by blood type isn't so much a matter of extreme detail as it is one of those little cultural oddities. Blood type is considered an indicator of personality in much the same way that horoscope is for Westerners (and it's just about that reliable, too). I talked about that a bit, shortly after I first started blogging.

  2. Michael, I know that about the Japanese but frankly, it is so weird, and I've actually known several Japanese that were biased against people with a specific type and Rh factor. It's just weird. Although, I know they also strongly believe the idea that blood type conveys certain health problems and there is some evidence for that.

  3. I think that is just really, really strange. It's so strange, I just can't think of anything else to say.

  4. It's way strange. I really need to be more careful about what I read at night.

  5. think you are safe, marzie


  6. Dennis, did you see the atheist orchids below?

    I am safe enough. I mean, the planet's falling apart and people everywhere are doing terrible things to each other. I have enough to eat and people that love me and shelter. And excellent friends and good things to read.

    So that's good enough for me. But thanks for the concern. I'm kind of trying to assume you mean well, you know?

  7. "And the user can mold their sim girl, so that she will be what he wants her to be, appear as he wishes her to appear."

    Appalling! Until you undo your own argument a few paragraphs down:

    "How's about making them feel like it takes so much more energy to get all dressed up on days when you're tired and down? Or what about what it feels like to walk around in those killer heels for four or five hours."

    (Who's molding *you*, little sim girl?)

  8. BD, You're assuming that I get dressed up on days when I'm tired or down and that I walk around in killer heels for four or five hours. Which is kinda silly, since you know I don't!