Tech-driven countries like Canada and the USA are developing apps that can help improve mental health or connect rural patients to experienced urban doctors. On the other side of the world, Japan is developing tech that allows people to marry or form relationships with their favorite anime or game characters.
Latest Gaming Trend
Several game companies have started a trend of developing games that feature 2D women as dateable characters for male players. The computer game Love Plus, created by Nintendo, is just one of the several games where players can have conversations, walk together from school, buy gifts, and date their preferred female characters, Rinko, Nene, or Manaka, of the game. Nowadays, these games have become increasingly varied.
The game development company Hibiki Works has developed a game that simulates a wedding between the player and the anime character of his dreams. Done in a re-created chapel, the player is able to experience a wedding ceremony with the virtual bride of the player’s choosing – Yuki Isurugi, Aiko Kurihara or Nono Naruse – using the VR headset and the E-mote VR character animation software. While the bride and ceremony are virtual, it is administered privately with the assistance of a real-life priest. Hibiki Works company stated that this is just an advertising gimmick for their upcoming virtual courtship game: Niizuma: Lovely x Cation.
Gatebox Communication Inc. takes it a step further. The company has recently released a video featuring their latest product: Azuma Hikari, the hologram wife. Described as a 20-year old female who loves doughnuts and dislikes insects, she is a hologram animation character in a cylindrical container that is programmed to do household chores (turn off lights, serve as an alarm clock, send reminders, and etc.) and greet her ‘husband’ when he gets home, like a real-life wife would. According to the company, this technology is developed to have a game that allows a video game character to spend a daily normal life with the player at ease. The game is not for sale yet. However, they are open for crowd-funding pre-orders.
Domestic Demand Largely From Otakus
These games are popular among Japanese men who are addicted to anime and video games and are living their quiet lives doing their hobbies in isolation. In Japan, they are known as ‘otakus’.
Otakus are almost, if not totally, withdrawn from the community that most of them have lost the motivation to find a stable job and find a real-life partner to have a relationship with. This retreat to their fantasy world of virtual girlfriends or wives has been contributed to their pessimistic view of their future. According to Tokyo-based social commentator Roland Kelts, many young Japanese males have difficulty believing that they can earn a stable income.
Since Japanese women tend to seek males that have stable earnings and full-time jobs are hard to come by, many of those Japanese males are putting off relationships until they can find a stable source living. Instead, they seek temporary modes of intimacy, one of which are these virtual courtship games.
According to the survey of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2010, 36% of Japanese males who are 16-19 years of age have no interest in sex. This number might increase in the near future. With their disinterest in marriage and the need for a no-strings-attached intimacy, it is most likely that demands virtual courtship