September 04, 2010
Japan: Men Take Virtual Girlfriends On Vacation

You might find this pathetic.

In the first month of the city's promotional campaign launched July 10, more than 1,500 male fans of the Japanese dating-simulation game LovePlus+ have flocked to Atami for a romantic date with their videogame character girlfriends.

The men are real. The girls are cartoon characters on a screen. The trips are actual, can be expensive and aim to re-create the virtual weekend outing featured in the game, a product of Konami Corp. played on Nintendo Co.'s DS videogame system.

Imagine how popular virtual girlfriends will become as computer processors and software make them more life-like. I almost erroneously typed "realistic" rather than life-like. Of course, the guys don't want realistic. Or maybe the realistic women don't want the guys.

What I wonder: When it becomes possible to genetically engineer offspring will parents only choose to make their boys and girls more attractive? Or will they also give them attributes that will make them more drawn to relationships and more happy in relationships?

I ask this because for each guy who is vacationing with his virtual girlfriend there's some woman sitting home alone or hanging out with her girl friends. They aren't connecting up. Which side does not feel enough attraction to the remaining singles of the other sex? How does all this separation come to be? Is it due to insufficient physical attraction? The guys not making enough money for the girls to be attracted to status? Or are they too shy? Or what?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 September 04 01:05 PM  Virtual Beings Relationships

sabril said at September 4, 2010 2:09 PM:

"I ask this because for each guy who is vacationing with his virtual girlfriend there's some woman sitting home alone or hanging out with her girl friends. They aren't connecting up. Which side does not feel enough attraction to the remaining singles of the other sex? How does all this separation come to be? "

I would guess part of it is due to soft polygamy. For example, a succesful, married executive who has a mistress or two on the side. Or a young player who is seeing 2 or 3 girls who each think they are his girlfriend.

Even if the "player" dates only one woman at a time, he will probably spend a greater percentage of his time in a relationship than the women he is seeing. For example, he might date 5 or 6 women a year for a couple months each while each of those girls dates only 1 or 2 men a year.

Also, in a declining population, the male female ratio will tend to skew in favor of women since there is typically an age gap in dating/marrying couples.

kurt9 said at September 4, 2010 2:36 PM:

Japan has a very corrupt political system:

and has a national government whose tax revenues is less than 50% of the total spending for a given year. (see the charts on page 5)

Nick G said at September 4, 2010 3:08 PM:

Much of the problem is inadequate housing and very high housing prices: Japanese women don't want to live with their mothers-in-law.

Japanese men are very traditional, and Japanese women don't want to stop working and have kids.

Italy has similar problems: men live with their mothers, and don't marry or have children.

Dave in Seattle said at September 4, 2010 10:01 PM:

Japan's problems are self correcting unless they accept immigrants. I imagine prostitution in Japan will include some kind of virtual girlfriend angle in the future. Use a three-D display to view porn, have a virtual relationship, then go on vacation and have sex with a real girl.

Mthson said at September 5, 2010 2:45 AM:

From my perspective, romantic relationships are often a huge waste of what could be productive time. I can't imagine spending that same amount of relationship time, but with a simulated love video game.

xd said at September 5, 2010 10:09 AM:

The answer to this is obvious.
Previous to the 1980s Japanese women didn't work. They had no choice about their partner.
Now that they are working they are liberated and they want better than they otherwise could have gotten.
We see the same effect here in the states.

For most (not all) men, a woman's looks are primary so the higher status a man is the better looking a partner he chooses. Education and job is secondary.
On the contrary, a fairly homely looking woman who becomes educated with a college degree and a good job think she has moved up the attractiveness tree.
In fact that's not the case as the high status men *still* prefer the attractive women. The result is that the homely men who would have been the homely women's mate end up with nothing and so do the homely (but university educated) women.

Randall Parker said at September 5, 2010 10:15 AM:


Sounds like female hypergamy is the problem. Not surprising. Instincts are powerful.

Do you know whether the most desirable Japanese men have begun delaying marriage in order to be promiscuous? Is Japan following the same pattern as the US, albeit in a more civilized manner?

PacRim Jim said at September 5, 2010 11:03 AM:

This is only a preview of the horror that will be full-immersion virtual reality. You will lose your children into a digital fantasy land. You might not get them back once the acclimate.

kurt9 said at September 5, 2010 11:08 AM:

Many Japanese have become "freiters", which are like the Gen-X slackers of the early 90's. This is because there has been little opportunity for young people since the bubble ended in the early 90's. There was actually decent job creation during 2004-2008 where lots of young people did find good work. However, this all ended with the Lehman shock in Sept 2008.

Some of the Japanese girls are hypergamous in that they are looking for the guys who make the big money. However, most are not in that they are "freiters". The hypergamous women can be found in places like Roppongi Hills, which is where all of the bars are that the investment banker guys hang out in. Then there are the girls who just want to party and do not care about the income of the men they party with. These girls are found in the regular part of Roppongi as well as Shibuya and Shinjuku.

Japanese men and women have been delaying marriage since the mid 1990's in order to have fun and play around. Neither men nor women are keen to get married, not only because of the economy, but because the traditional Japanese family life really is not that fulfilling. I don't think Westerners who have not lived in Japan have any appreciation of how confining and restrictive traditional Japanese marriage and family life can be. No one wants to do this anymore. Also, housing is still expensive compared to incomes (despite a 12 year drop in real estate prices since the end of the bubble) and no woman wants to live with the in-laws (three generation house-holds really do suck) if they can avoid it.

More women are being promoted into the business world. The infamous Japanese male chauvinism, which used to be the foundation of Japanese culture, is slowly but steadily eroding away. Female managers are becoming more common in the Japanese business culture.

ASPIRANT said at September 5, 2010 11:16 PM:

The japanese are going to find a way to cope and persist as a nation. They are extremely good at adapting whatever the world gives them into a workable society. They're also extremely xenophobic. Their culture won't simply vanish under an avalanche of burritos and tacos.

A.H.A. said at September 6, 2010 12:17 PM:

Business model: Japanese PUA e-courses.

Randall Parker said at September 6, 2010 3:25 PM:


I like it. The guys could even practice PUA technique with virtual girls.

Brett Bellmore said at September 6, 2010 6:07 PM:

"The japanese are going to find a way to cope and persist as a nation. "

In fact, it's already clear how they expect to do it: Advanced robotics. That's their solution to the failure to reproduce: Humanoid robots with social AI will provide geriatric care, and take over the task of perpetuating Japanese culture. If they tend to look like anime characters, so much the better...

James C. Weidmann, gov't teat-sucker said at September 6, 2010 10:54 PM:

Once the Japanese invent sexbots, they can drop the video game stuff and make it sound a lot less creepy.

ASPIRANT said at September 7, 2010 8:34 AM:

I hope none of you ever start to play MMORPGs. That's what's wrong with the world... The smart nerds, who could solve some of our problems, are all immersed in MMOs.

I talked to some people on there who had no money, scrounging up their last nickel to drop on a new mount. Kids who steal from their mothers' pocketbooks to buy in-game currency. What crack did to the black community, MMOs will surely do to the nerds.

I can almost relate to these people too. Socially inept jerkwads who nobody IRL will talk to because they're not cool/attractive enough can get on there and be badass, or accepted. It releases so many endorphins, having these people be happy to see you.

Not all MMOs are like that, but this particular one I'm playing now, almost everyone I've spoken to on there has some sort of huge emotional problem. They're friendly, intelligent, and all-around likable people, this one guy speaks several languages just because he learned out of curiosity. But their stories are just so pathetic, and their status so low. Almost nobody I've spoken to on there has a full-time job.

This is only one MMO, and it is a free-to-play one, so the sample is probably skewed... I hadn't heard anyone tell stories like this who played WoW for example (though it has its own subset of useless behavior). I may just be interacting with the lowest of the low. It's possible that these people would be loafing even if it were the 50's. But still, I really don't think anything all that good comes out of total-immersion alternate reality. At least until the singularity, when it'll be a good way to keep the useless people happy while the truly intelligent entities sort everything out.

Michael Kantor, internet dating tycoon said at September 7, 2010 10:26 AM:

"I hope none of you ever start to play MMORPGs. That's what's wrong with the world... The smart nerds, who could solve some of our problems, are all immersed in MMOs. "

Exactly. Whether designed with psychological research in mind or not, it turns out that these RPGs are maximally psychologically addictive. Experience points to mark progress are given out steadily, while rewards are random in frequency and magnitude, and your headline number - whatever level you are - initially and briefly rises quickly and then you hit an exponential curve. So it is just like a drug.

Ezmelts said at September 8, 2010 4:05 PM:

They do not want them to be more real looking.
They flock to these virtual girlfriends because of their inability to work out a relationship with a real person. In the game, if you follow certain steps you are guaranteed some consistency in the results.

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