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A Japanese man has married his virtual girlfriend.

I’m not sure what’s worst about this story. The contenders:

(1) The first sentence of the article:

We may occasionally wish our spouses had an “off” switch but a Japanese man will have that luxury full-time…

This sentence assumes that the audience are all (a) male, (b) heterosexual and (c) misogynist.

(2) The fact that the game Love Plus

invites players to pick a girlfriend and then challenges them to woo her by taking her out on “dates” and perform boyfriend duties such as saying “I love you” 100 times…

So, Nintendo also assumes that its target market are all (a) heterosexual, (b) male and (c) interested only in wish-fulfilment game-playing, rather than having an actual relationship with an actual person who is actually not a stereotype of a woman.

(Of course, it could just be that Asher Moses’s description of the game – the game itself may allow you to also choose a boyfriend. Somehow, I doubt it. I’m cynical that way.)

(3) The somewhat condescending comments (the first is “Oh dear”). That condescension says, to me, “look at that poor little [different person], we’re not like that”, and that, to me, pricks up my racism-alert hackles.

And whaddaya know, a couple of comments down there’s a comment which suggests that giving these games to “young Chinese and Indian men” could “stop the population boom”. Yep, that’s racism!

Oh dear, indeed.

I’m not going to go into the marrying-the-game-character thing. I do find it a bit disturbing, and I think that’s because of the implied power imbalance. Which is not so much a problem for the individual game character involved (!), but for what it potentially says about the man’s attitude towards women, and what he wants in a woman. I find that more problematic than the idea that he wants to marry the game character, per se. But I haven’t unpacked it enough to write about it coherently, and I don’t want to fall into the trap of sounding (or being!) condescending or racist by writing about something I don’t really get.

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