Perfect People: How to Marry a Video Game

Did you know this guy in Japan actually married a video game? Well, a video game character to be exact. What is your first reaction to this little piece of information? Do you ask yourself if I'm joking or just go WTF from the lack of a more elaborate response to something that seems absurd? It is no joke: a man known as Sal9000 married a character from the insanely popular, Japan-exclusive DS dating sim, Love Plus. This happened two years ago and you probably already knew about it before reading this. However, what you probably don't know is that it didn't stop there, it's an ongoing process. More and more people are doing similar things. And I don't mean listing a character as your girlfriend on Facebook. I mean real, actual devotion to artificial beings. Have you ever wondered why people do that kind of stuff? Or perhaps more to the point, have you ever thought that it's a shame that a certain video game character is not a real person? If you answered yes to either one of these, keep on reading because I'm about to attempt some kind of explanation to all this madness.

First I want you to think about your favorite video game character, protagonist or NPC. Now, they are your favorite because of many things, like their looks, their personalities and abilities, among others obviously. It's no surprise that just like in the movies, they were designed to appeal to people in certain ways. Like my favorite, Geralt of Rivia, from The Witcher games. He may not be the best example as he was actually a book character in the beginning, but I should proceed with him to prove my point. Geralt is a badass. He runs around killing monsters, saving kingdoms, changing the world. A master swordsman, a mage, a hunter. Geralt is kind of like a rock star: all the guys want to be him and all the girls want to... be with him. Of course he was designed in such a way. He is a perfect person.

Geralt's new face - hi-res

In the context of Geralt, what is a perfect person? It's a character whose personality, physical appearance and traits are the result of a study of certain groups of people. Geralt is perfect because he seems to be undefeated, the best of the best, has a great, albeit a bit dark sense of humor, has shiny white hair, manly scars all over his body. He is a textbook example of a badass cool dude. These features alone don't make him, or any other character perfect. Geralt also has flaws. Major flaws. They are there because a player cannot identify with a flawless character. So they (or actually in this case the book author, but never mind that) made him has a weakness for women, making him not so much a stud as a man who is easily manipulated by women. He gets his share of the action, but who comes out on top is never clear until the very last moment. His womanizing is both a sign of his coolness and weakness. Same goes for his constant quest for neutrality. It actually is impossible to be neutral, which makes him an idealist, and this in turn makes him a romantic character. When you break it down like this it's easy to see why he makes such a strong impact on people. It's the incredible detail of personality that makes him so appealing. This is the part, when people can actually feel sorry that he is not a real person. Because who wouldn't want to meet Geralt of Rivia? A nekker probably wouldn't. But they don't socialize that much anyway.

Alright, now for the really important question: what about the women? It's no secret that female characters in games, both playable and NPCs are created in the sexist way to make guys go crazy about them. Maybe it's nothing to be proud of, maybe it's just natural - I'm not here to discuss whether boob physics are a sexist marketing tool or not. I personally enjoy a pair of nicely animated breasts.

Bayonetta by Konachan

I don't know about you, but when I think about a perfect video game girl my mind instantly shouts BAYONETTA! Ah yes, the Japanese stripper/acrobat/witch/everything else. For honesty's sake let's just say it, Bayonetta is in no way a deep character. She barely has any story behind her, but she was not designed to move you. She was made as a treat for those of us that don't need much to be entertained. And all her features make her perfect for that. She has this glamour thing about her, very stylish, talks in sophisticated English with a posh accent and that's the half that's, impressive in a way. But then she has this whole other side, where she's a witch and she dances like a stripper and she makes her potions and shoots things. Super classy plus sleazy equals product sold. But in this case, were not only buying the product. We're buying the character, because it's not the gameplay that will make you buy Bayonetta 2. It's the girl. The gameplay is just like in any other DMC clone. The girl is not. That's the hook. Bayonetta is a perfect person, because she represents things that normally don't go together. She is also a looker, probably designed using the harvested dreams of sleeping teenagers. She's perfect, for certain people, and I'm willing to bet, that many many guys would like to exchange an actual person from their lives for a Bayonetta. And this is exactly my point.

I started out here promising some sort of explanation for the phenomenon of people actually getting emotionally involved with digital characters. The answer is painfully simple: because why not? People did it for decades, falling in love with movie characters. They also did it for centuries with book characters. The thing is, with video games it's so much easier. A player can interact with the character, and if the game is specially designed to be some sort of a simulation of human relationships, do they really control it? Think about it: did Sal9000 wonder how ridiculous his idea of human-computer interface sounds to an average person (especially a westerner)? No, because maybe the whole thing suited him. Just like it suits so many other people who'd rather live in a fantasy of being with a Bayonetta, or a Marcus Fenix or any other video game character designed in part for catering to our more primal needs, than with being with an actual person. They look around and see only people who are so regular, so bleak. When they get offered the chance to spend time with a perfect person, how can they say no? This is probably the reason why some go crazy and take it that one step too far. Then again, who am I to say what's going too far? My personal experiences from the past couple of years make me think being like with an actual human female is taking it too far. I'm probably one of those people more subjectable to the "Love Plus Treatment".

This could go on for pages and pages, and turn into a diatribe about how virtual reality and the simulacrum that it is more and more replace the physical world in our minds, habits and lifestyles... but let's not go there. Let's end this on a positive note saying that everybody has a right to be happy, no matter what their definition of happiness is. Whether it's with a real person, or a digital one, at least they're not alone. I find that oddly comforting. Don't you?

Thanks for reading!

28 Comments
29 Comments
Posted by TatsurouXIII

Did you know this guy in Japan actually married a video game? Well, a video game character to be exact. What is your first reaction to this little piece of information? Do you ask yourself if I'm joking or just go WTF from the lack of a more elaborate response to something that seems absurd? It is no joke: a man known as Sal9000 married a character from the insanely popular, Japan-exclusive DS dating sim, Love Plus. This happened two years ago and you probably already knew about it before reading this. However, what you probably don't know is that it didn't stop there, it's an ongoing process. More and more people are doing similar things. And I don't mean listing a character as your girlfriend on Facebook. I mean real, actual devotion to artificial beings. Have you ever wondered why people do that kind of stuff? Or perhaps more to the point, have you ever thought that it's a shame that a certain video game character is not a real person? If you answered yes to either one of these, keep on reading because I'm about to attempt some kind of explanation to all this madness.

First I want you to think about your favorite video game character, protagonist or NPC. Now, they are your favorite because of many things, like their looks, their personalities and abilities, among others obviously. It's no surprise that just like in the movies, they were designed to appeal to people in certain ways. Like my favorite, Geralt of Rivia, from The Witcher games. He may not be the best example as he was actually a book character in the beginning, but I should proceed with him to prove my point. Geralt is a badass. He runs around killing monsters, saving kingdoms, changing the world. A master swordsman, a mage, a hunter. Geralt is kind of like a rock star: all the guys want to be him and all the girls want to... be with him. Of course he was designed in such a way. He is a perfect person.

Geralt's new face - hi-res

In the context of Geralt, what is a perfect person? It's a character whose personality, physical appearance and traits are the result of a study of certain groups of people. Geralt is perfect because he seems to be undefeated, the best of the best, has a great, albeit a bit dark sense of humor, has shiny white hair, manly scars all over his body. He is a textbook example of a badass cool dude. These features alone don't make him, or any other character perfect. Geralt also has flaws. Major flaws. They are there because a player cannot identify with a flawless character. So they (or actually in this case the book author, but never mind that) made him has a weakness for women, making him not so much a stud as a man who is easily manipulated by women. He gets his share of the action, but who comes out on top is never clear until the very last moment. His womanizing is both a sign of his coolness and weakness. Same goes for his constant quest for neutrality. It actually is impossible to be neutral, which makes him an idealist, and this in turn makes him a romantic character. When you break it down like this it's easy to see why he makes such a strong impact on people. It's the incredible detail of personality that makes him so appealing. This is the part, when people can actually feel sorry that he is not a real person. Because who wouldn't want to meet Geralt of Rivia? A nekker probably wouldn't. But they don't socialize that much anyway.

Alright, now for the really important question: what about the women? It's no secret that female characters in games, both playable and NPCs are created in the sexist way to make guys go crazy about them. Maybe it's nothing to be proud of, maybe it's just natural - I'm not here to discuss whether boob physics are a sexist marketing tool or not. I personally enjoy a pair of nicely animated breasts.

Bayonetta by Konachan

I don't know about you, but when I think about a perfect video game girl my mind instantly shouts BAYONETTA! Ah yes, the Japanese stripper/acrobat/witch/everything else. For honesty's sake let's just say it, Bayonetta is in no way a deep character. She barely has any story behind her, but she was not designed to move you. She was made as a treat for those of us that don't need much to be entertained. And all her features make her perfect for that. She has this glamour thing about her, very stylish, talks in sophisticated English with a posh accent and that's the half that's, impressive in a way. But then she has this whole other side, where she's a witch and she dances like a stripper and she makes her potions and shoots things. Super classy plus sleazy equals product sold. But in this case, were not only buying the product. We're buying the character, because it's not the gameplay that will make you buy Bayonetta 2. It's the girl. The gameplay is just like in any other DMC clone. The girl is not. That's the hook. Bayonetta is a perfect person, because she represents things that normally don't go together. She is also a looker, probably designed using the harvested dreams of sleeping teenagers. She's perfect, for certain people, and I'm willing to bet, that many many guys would like to exchange an actual person from their lives for a Bayonetta. And this is exactly my point.

I started out here promising some sort of explanation for the phenomenon of people actually getting emotionally involved with digital characters. The answer is painfully simple: because why not? People did it for decades, falling in love with movie characters. They also did it for centuries with book characters. The thing is, with video games it's so much easier. A player can interact with the character, and if the game is specially designed to be some sort of a simulation of human relationships, do they really control it? Think about it: did Sal9000 wonder how ridiculous his idea of human-computer interface sounds to an average person (especially a westerner)? No, because maybe the whole thing suited him. Just like it suits so many other people who'd rather live in a fantasy of being with a Bayonetta, or a Marcus Fenix or any other video game character designed in part for catering to our more primal needs, than with being with an actual person. They look around and see only people who are so regular, so bleak. When they get offered the chance to spend time with a perfect person, how can they say no? This is probably the reason why some go crazy and take it that one step too far. Then again, who am I to say what's going too far? My personal experiences from the past couple of years make me think being like with an actual human female is taking it too far. I'm probably one of those people more subjectable to the "Love Plus Treatment".

This could go on for pages and pages, and turn into a diatribe about how virtual reality and the simulacrum that it is more and more replace the physical world in our minds, habits and lifestyles... but let's not go there. Let's end this on a positive note saying that everybody has a right to be happy, no matter what their definition of happiness is. Whether it's with a real person, or a digital one, at least they're not alone. I find that oddly comforting. Don't you?

Thanks for reading!

Posted by coakroach

@TatsurouXIII said:

at least they're not alone.

Well technically...

Posted by Cloudenvy

@coakroach said:

@TatsurouXIII said:

at least they're not alone.

Well technically...

Don't crush the illusion!

Posted by Shirogane

While your argument is compelling...your two choices of examples don't seem very good.

Or maybe you're just a suicidal masochist, who knows.

Posted by BaneFireLord
Posted by MikeGosot

When i was very young, like, VERY young, when i was 5, i think.... I wanted to marry King from KoF(I don't think it was called KoF back in the days... Hm...). In fact, it's because of her, that i like short-haired girls. But anyway... That was an interesting read, but your examples could be better, or at least your arguments. Bayonetta the character is a "Meh" for me, but the gameplay is more than a DMC clone, so it got me hooked.

Posted by Dagbiker

I stopped reading after you said "hello all." Also video games are horrible people

Posted by JackSukeru

@Cloudenvy said:

@coakroach said:

@TatsurouXIII said:

at least they're not alone.

Well technically...

Don't crush the illusion!

Myriad Truths!

Don't be a Lotus-Eater, break out of your illusion with your drill!

Posted by Simplexity

People will be quick to judge that dude, I don't understand the fuzz, let him to what he wants to, he isn't harming anyone.

Posted by BraveToaster

Nope, I still think it's pretty creepy. Those people need help.

Posted by nintendoeats

@BaneFireLord: Why pick Ivy if you aren't into S&M? That's kind of the whole point isn't it?

Anyway, to OP: There is a basic assumption in your premise that as long as somebody WANTS to have a relationship with an artificial being (however the hell that works) we are not in a position to tell them no. However, I raise the counterexample of a drug addict. Clearly a heroin addict WANTS heroin, but that is only a short-term desire. It is not in their best interests to fulfill it, even if they are still a functional member of society. Why not? Because aside from the fact that they are permanently damaging their health, they are also missing out on experiences which I am inclined to believe (though I cannot say for sure, not having ever done drugs) are more fulfilling than satisfying a chemical addiction. To take this back to the matter at hand, Sal9000 (the fact that he goes by a fantastic name seems relevant) has opted to completely avoid several major components of life that his brain is wired to expect. In the short term this is exactly what he wants. In the long term, he is likely to miss out. To begin with there are clear material benefits to having a real relationship with a human being: I don't expect the dream girl that I built in SR3 to come and pick me up from the hospital if I get hit by a car. Even ignoring those factors (which you shouldn't), Sal is inherently sacrificing the contrasting nature of a relationship. All good media contains highs and lows, because people get bored if everything is exciting and amazing all the time. I'm quite confident in saying that a fight every once and a while brings people closer together in the long run.

I want to bring this back to the thing that I said about SR3 earlier. When I have access to a character creator, I always wind up building roughly the same character. It's the kind of girl that I desperately want to meet, and on rare occasion actually do. I know that this is stupid and a little creepy, but I don't worry about it too much because a video games is supposed to be escapist anyway. It's a fantasy. It's somewhere that you go temporarily. If you stay there too long, it loses its magic and you lose all of your real friends.

Posted by McGhee
Posted by PeasantAbuse

I don't know what is worse, this or the guy that married that anime pillow thing.

Edited by BlinkyTM

That was interesting. Marrying a Video Game character...doesn't seem fair to the game character.

Edited by Branthog

And all these people will probably remain much happier than most of the married people I've known, who are constantly in some state of fighting, cheating, jealousy, overcoming one or the other's credit rating problems (never marry someone with bad credit, idiots!), or just general malaise or petty bickering.
 
I mean, seriously, I'm sure we all know plenty of people who have done far stupider and even more pathetic things for a relationship or to be with someone, so as absurd as these stories are (and I can never decide if they're really serious or if it's just a goof like a guy who changes his name to Santa or something), what we accept as "normal" behavior is just as fucking insane and dumb.

Edited by lockwoodx

The Star Wars nerds will no doubt beg Bioware to allow them to marry their "love doll" NPC companions in Knights of the Old Republic. Jokes on them as Bioware is dropping the title post launch and letting Mythic drive it into the ground.

Posted by Willin
Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG

Japan

Posted by TatsurouXIII

@Branthog: Exactly, if somebody thinks this is more crazy than a dude jumping out of a speeding car or out the window for a woman... well, is it really?

@Shirogane: I really dug those characters, nobody else really came to mind that would illustrate the point of being designed to cater to certain needs.

@nintendoeats: you make a good point, however the comparison to a junkie is not really good. Heroin causes death. Dating sims don't. Think about this: most people never get to end up with the person they REALLY want. It's always some sort of compromise. What these digital relationships offer is no need for a compromise because the game designers know what people want and don't want exactly. How can this be worse than being with somebody who you're gonna end up hating in the end anyway? On the emotional level. Also, people do the exact same thing in the so called real life. They fall in love over the internet, on social sites and stuff like that. Is that different? The person you think you're talking to can be just as artificial as the girls from Love Plus. In the internet you can be anything you want. So you're not really talking to somebody, you're talking to their avatar. I think it's exactly the same as falling in love with a character.

Posted by Shirogane

@TatsurouXIII: Oh no, they're good characters, the point was that...they're not characters you'd want to really be around, cause you know...bad stuff will happen to you.

Posted by TatsurouXIII

@Shirogane: Actually, if you read the Witcher books Geralt turns out to be a really nice guy. Sorta. :)) But yeah I totally agree that Bayonetta might not be the perfect girlfriend if you're not DMC's Dante.

Edited by Still_I_Cry

@PeasantAbuse said:

I don't know what is worse, this or the guy that married that anime pillow thing.

This is worse. Anime pillow guy had something to hug, kiss and sleep with on his wedding night :P

I don't really wish to date any game characters.

Also, uh, how do they, you know...

Kiss :)?

And I would rather spend my time with a real, albeit, imperfect person than someone I will never be able to have a conversation with or enjoy experiences with.

Posted by TatsurouXIII

@Still_I_Cry: How do they... kiss? Well check this out. Everybody knows what a Fleshlight is. If you don't, it's basically a flashlight that you put your thing in and, like... fuck it. There is also a USB version of the device. You can buy 3D Sex Villa, which supports the device, create a character there that looks almost exactly like your virtual girlfriend and then do her in the game using the plugged in Fleshlight (it's like an analog cotroller... for your dick!).

I totally never tried this.

Posted by StarvingGamer

@TatsurouXIII said:

We're buying the character, because it's not the gameplay that will make you buy Bayonetta 2. It's the girl. The gameplay is just like in any other DMC clone.

I couldn't disagree with you more.

For me, Bayonetta recaptures the magic of DMC and DMC3 in a way that no other game has and elevates it to the next level. I won't be buying Bayonetta 2 for the girl (although she is AMAZING), I'll be buying it for another slice of the best over-the-top, precision-based character-action that I've ever had the privilege to experience.

Also this has nothing to do with the point of your post. But if people want to marry an inanimate object, let them.

Posted by BlinkyTM

@TatsurouXIII said:

@Still_I_Cry: How do they... kiss? Well check this out. Everybody knows what a Fleshlight is. If you don't, it's basically a flashlight that you put your thing in and, like... fuck it. There is also a USB version of the device. You can buy 3D Sex Villa, which supports the device, create a character there that looks almost exactly like your virtual girlfriend and then do her in the game using the plugged in Fleshlight (it's like an analog cotroller... for your dick!).

I totally never tried this.

That is pretty messed up....in a futuristic weird sort of way.

Posted by Still_I_Cry

@TatsurouXIII said:

@Still_I_Cry: How do they... kiss? Well check this out. Everybody knows what a Fleshlight is. If you don't, it's basically a flashlight that you put your thing in and, like... fuck it. There is also a USB version of the device. You can buy 3D Sex Villa, which supports the device, create a character there that looks almost exactly like your virtual girlfriend and then do her in the game using the plugged in Fleshlight (it's like an analog cotroller... for your dick!).

I totally never tried this.

What..the fuck..

Posted by TatsurouXIII

@Still_I_Cry: exactly.

Posted by BaneFireLord
@nintendoeats said:

@BaneFireLord: Why pick Ivy if you aren't into S&M? That's kind of the whole point isn't it?

Because boobs. Also, her purple hair is pretty awesome. 
Posted by TatsurouXIII

@BaneFireLord said:

@nintendoeats said:

@BaneFireLord: Why pick Ivy if you aren't into S&M? That's kind of the whole point isn't it?

Because boobs. Also, her purple hair is pretty awesome.

I like this guy.