Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Maybe the weirdest story you'll hear all year

Remember those songs like “Lonesome Town” and “Heartbreak Hotel”, metaphoric destinations for the lost and lonely? Imaginary havens for love’s refuse. Well, it turns out one such place actually exists!!

There is a seaside resort town in Japan named Atami. It used to be a romantic getaway for young lovebirds. Well, either business was bad the women were stealing too many hair dryers but the town decided to go in a different direction. Atami now caters to a new clientele – the world’s most pathetic losers.

To increase tourism, the town has become the destination for male enthusiasts of Love Plus, a dating simulation game. This is according to Discovery News.

The town has partnered with gaming company Konami Digital Entertainment, the creators of Love Plus, to establish a resort that brings together the virtual girlfriend and her real-world boyfriend in a beach-side setting.

Yes. Yikes. Hang on. It gets worse.

Love Plus is an extended scenario in which the real-life "beau" plays a high school boy character in a relationship with a virtual girl. "The goal is to see how good you can be to her [the virtual girlfriend] and to build a relationship." And what better way to capture the heart of a screen cartoon image than by whisking her away for a romantic weekend by the sea?

Wow! And I thought the Burning Man festival was weird.

Now I know I shouldn’t be judgmental here. No one’s getting hurt (although some of the virtual girls might get their hearts broken or fail Algebra 2 because they’re spending too much time with their beaus), it’s all in good fun, but I’m sorry – middle-aged guys acting out fantasies with high school girls… in public – that’s a Sunday drive into some serious dementia.

The Discovery article explains how it works:

In 13 locations around the town, players can find 2D barcodes to scan and call up images of the young women in the game. The girls wear different clothing from their typical in-game looks. One hotel has gone as far as putting a barcode in its rooms, allowing players to see their "girlfriends" in a more private setting wearing summer kimonos.

Double yikes! Triple yikes!

Over 2,000 guys made this their summer vacation this year. I wonder if the iPad has a virtual condom app.

Again, my apologies but this is a giant cry for help. Please, somebody, create virtual therapists!

And here's what scares me. I’m sure there are congressmen reading this right now and booking their trip to Japan for fact-finding expeditions. At least four Florida beach towns and one Six Flags will flip to this next summer. The Fox reality series should hit the air right after the World Series. And worst of all, people will confuse me with the Ken Levine who created Bioshock and think that I created this game.

But the good news is this: You can now go to Comic-Com, wear whatever ridiculous tin foil superhero costume you want, and you're still the well-adjusted one.

15 comments:

Brian said...

As Dennis Miller once ranted about Virtual Reality:

"The day an unemployed iron worker can lay in his Baracalounger with a Fosters in one hand and a channel flicker in the other and fuck Claudia Schiffer for $19.95, it's gonna make crack look like Sanka."

Banzai!

James said...

Fantastic! It's all the tedium and expense of real dating without the threat of getting laid.

Steve said...

Question:

As a writer, do you ever develop crushes on your characters? For instance, did you have a crush on Dharma or Diane Chambers? (I would have.) If so, did that affect your writing?

Grubber said...

I don't know if this qualifies as a weird place to visit but it is certainly unusual for downunder. Normally we keep this confined to our pubs.

http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/models-massages-and-mud-wrestling-at-resort/story-e6frfq80-1225907669732

My job is to actually sign hotels and resorts to our chain...this place is in my half of Oz. My boss thinks I have ulterior motives for wanting to visit and talk with management.

He could be right, the golf course looks good.....
cheers
Dave

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Wankers.

Anonymous said...

The Japanese are strange. They have rape comics.

Mac said...

That's beyond weird. It reminds me of Kingsley Amis who, at age 70, said the death of his libido came as a huge relief because he realised he'd "spent 60 years attached to an idiot."

Alan said...

I'd love a virtual therapist. You should get on that.

P.S. I love me some Bioshock.

benson said...

Since "weird" is the topic, anybody else think of Chuckles the clown, when they heard that ELO's cellist, Mike Edwards was killed by a giant bale of hay?

YEKIMI said...

Holy Crap! Looks like my chance to date the entire cast of "Josie & The Pussycats" might come true!

Anonymous said...

When I was in the army stationed in Korea, I was at a religious retreat (Jewish) in Atami. It was a nice little sea side town, with surf that if I ever lived in Japan, this would be the place....good thing I didn't....

Tom Quigley said...

....What do I do with the used virtual condoms?....

OTL said...

Apparently, some guy in Japan *married* his virtual girlfriend from one of those games.

No, really.

Japan can be a strange, strange place...

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

jeezus.

...and I really like Brian's comment.

Bunsai!

Atlanta said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog, Ken Levine! Always entertaining, so often enlightening.

Japan is fascinating on a sociological level. In a too small nutshell, Japan has turned western and modern in one generation, and traditional dating approaches don't work any more. The outcome is a country that's totally junior high in its dating culture. Dating sims are huge -- and instructional (roughly 90% dialogue, 10% salacious). And I've heard even porn is more training based (how to) than voyeur based. This town is an extension of that dating sims culture, and is genuinely intended to teach men how to date. I find the oddest trend to be yaoi, fiction for young women that's about young men in love.