Japanese men take romantic vacations with sexy video game characters

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Atami Girl video game

The other day, we mentioned that the Japanese government is trying to influence the dating lives of its citizens, possibly because of a falling birth rate. The Wall Street Journal, in an unrelated story, agreed with us… and presented a very strange example for why they are in trouble: single men are infatuated with a video game character and are going on real, paid vacations "with" her.

In just one month, 1,500 dudes rented hotel rooms and visited locations featured in a video game called LovePlus+, hauling along their Nintendo DS systems to virtually hand-hold, kiss and perform feats of strength to impress one of three girls at the center of the game. (The object is to be a great boyfriend for the girls by correctly holding those hands and building those muscles… and so forth.)

After choosing one of three female characters—goodie-goodie Manaka, sassy Rinko or big-sister type Nene—to be a steady girlfriend, the player taps a stylus on the DS touch-screen in order to walk hand-in-hand to school, exchange flirtatious text messages and even meet in the school courtyard for a little afternoon kiss. Using the device's built-in microphone, the player can carry on sweet, albeit mundane, conversations. [WSJ]

And so it goes.