Virtual world changing behaviors of people in the real world

In Love Plus, a Japanese dating simulation game, players experience young romance with a virtual girlfriend. Some have even taken their beloved avatars to an island resort — a real island resort. WSJ’s Akiko Fujita takes a tour of Atami.

Since the marriage rate among Japan’s shrinking population is falling and with many of the country’s remaining lovebirds heading for Hawaii or Australia’s Gold Coast, Atami had to do something. It is trying to attract single men—and their handheld devices.

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.


As crazy as this sounds, it’s actually a pretty interesting phenomenon. While I don’t think that men everywhere would abandon women in droves to go on expensive vacations with their virtual handheld girlfriends, there’s something there in this idea. 

Because when you think about it, it’s something virtual that’s changing the behaviors of people in the real world. Just as groupon drives people to locations because of deals, An actual game that you play, drives you to go on vacation. In the future, we may not be taking our virtual girlfriends to actual places and spending money, but we could see a movie overlaid on top of the real world, where what we purchase at the different landmarks changes the outcome of the story.



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