The Rise Of The Dating Sim And The Meaning Of Love

New Love Plus 3DS
Dating sim New Love Plus for 3DS. Last year, The Japan Times reported a government survey revealed 37.6 percent had no interest in a real romantic relationship. Konami

Human destructiveness is so strong Freud proposed that love, not logic, is the only thing that can balance it. Quotes about this subject in particular, however imaginatively phrased, never manage to make me feel as husky as I’d like them to. I’m not resigned to operating under the impression that love is little more than a welcomed evolutionary impulse, but I have yet to come across a compelling reason to suspect otherwise. The concept of love itself is nebulous enough without our knack for spurning the biological in favor of the spiritual attributes. This is something I’ve been ruminating over lately. Right now, Neuromance is experiencing quite the swell in popularity over in Japan and I imagine, as the technology progresses, the same will occur in the States. Theoretically, it seems perfect. All of the benefits of intimate companionship sans the precarious nature of our fellow mammals.

Last year, The Japan Times reported 37.6 percent of those surveyed by the government said they had no interest in a romantic relationship. The term “bothersome” appeared with some frequency when asked why. Conversely, dating simulators, like Love Plus, which allows users to design their virtual partner’s mood and personality, are fairly ubiquitous in the country. Swedish photographer Loulou d’Aki, who documented the subculture in her film, Playing For Love, hypothesized that the appeal was the “frictionless relationship one can have with a virtual girlfriend.” She described it as “a very dreamy and innocent relationship,” though she hastened to specify that not all who participate do so as some sort of last resort. They’re not all lonely or out of touch. That’s charitable of her.

I’m of two minds. On the one hand, my position on vices in a broader sense remains intact in this instance: life is short and miserable; as long as you’re not doing anyone any harm, get your bit of crumpet where and how you can, ignominy be damned. On the other hand, I’m not sure how much good can come out of cherry-picking one’s intimate interactions. Distractions are one thing, but shortcuts are another.

Despite how little we currently understand about it, the human mind isn’t all that special. There isn’t a function produced by the brain, voluntary or otherwise, that won’t one day be able to be engineered, in fact, we’re currently in the process of doing so. What I’m saying is the feeling of “love” isn’t special, but what is special is the way it’s shared between humans, integral even. Love cannot be obtained a la carte. In its truest sense, it can only exist when the threat of uncertainty is involved. It is the most compelling when it’s at the mercy of chance and exigence. Moreover, as far as finding a simulacrum for such a complex thing in a video game is concerned, love can’t really be experienced one-sidedly. That’s what so interesting about love; its validity is beholden to the unexplainable and the rigidly intellectual.

Can it one day be duplicated? Well, not according to Plato’s symposium, or Sigmund Freud’s The Future Of An illusion, or John Donne’s sonnets, or Etta James for that matter, but that’s not really the point. The hurt and the unsteady nature that espouses romantic love should not be foreclosed upon. Don’t cheat yourself out of being whole.

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