Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Games Entertainment

Virtual Girlfriend 649

Sven-Erik writes " BBC News reports about a Hong Kong based company called Artificial Life that has developed a solution for men without a partner, in the form of a virtual girlfriend that appear as an animated figure on the video screen of a mobile phone. But there is a downside to the virtual girlfriend - she will require more flowers and gifts than many real women. All virtual girls will look the same - but each girl will behave differently - depending on how much money is spent on her. In return, she will introduce them to different aspects of her life, like letting them meet her female friends - also electronic images. Artificial Life is hoping to launch the new game later this year, on the latest 3-G mobile phones.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Virtual Girlfriend

Comments Filter:
  • by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew&thekerrs,ca> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:44PM (#10057724) Homepage
    just spend it intelligently. Sure, you're wife/girlfriend will appreciate getting flowers, but haveing them delivered to her place of work is even better. I've done this on a few occasions, and trust me, its worth the $20 or so delivery charge as opposed to her just coming home and finding them on the table or such.
  • Ignore Mode? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grunt107 ( 739510 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:46PM (#10057760)
    If I ignore the VG, will she die like the Virtual Pets did?
  • Too bad for women (Score:2, Interesting)

    by meganthom ( 259885 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:46PM (#10057763)
    I saw this article yesterday and have since wondered when women came to be portrayed so badly. I don't really understand why you would throw money away so that a VR girl, who seemingly won't ever do much other than reveal things about herself, will talk to you. Not only is it a waste of money, but it doesn't teach men skills they actually need to hold onto a girlfriend. I'm sure there are a number of women who would prefer a money tree to a human being, but most of us can't be made happy simply through materialistic things. I'm frustrated the company would choose to reinforce this unfair stereotype about women. What's next? A virtual boyfriend who will only talk to you if you encourage him to spend all his time watching the game and going to strip clubs with his friends?
  • Re:No Thanks! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:48PM (#10057790) Homepage Journal
    'd rather go to a bar and meet chicks to spend money on.

    Funny how many people think this isn't the epitomy of real adventure. Meet a real human being, find out what she likes, turn her off, learn from it, try again with another until it clicks, that sort of thing.

    The Virtual Girlfriend is allegedly for those who don't have the time for a relationship. To those who don't, I think you don't give actual human beings enough credit, as many friends have parttime relationships, you just have to find someone who's cool with that.

    Seems people keep trying to invent Better Than Life. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:56PM (#10057925)
    You get the same endorphin release even if the hugging stimulus is artificial. Shelton's research found that if opiate receptor blockers were used, monkeys would go crazy for their endorphin fix, and hug just about anything.

    A hugging pillow would do a lot of good to mildly depressed people. Even if you don't think it should work, apparently the body still responds.
    I have a pet theory that some bondage/constriction etc fetishes are caused by endorphin depletion.

    Thinking about it, that's kinda sad too.
  • by CSG_SurferDude ( 96615 ) <> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:03PM (#10058046) Homepage Journal
    I thought I'd seen this before on EBAY! []
    (Not necessarily a work safe link)

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:05PM (#10058062)
    Women get something more practical; The Boyfriend Arm Pillow []
  • by RainbowSix ( 105550 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:05PM (#10058063) Homepage
    Here's a pic [] of the boyfriend arm pillow
  • by Destoo ( 530123 ) <> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:06PM (#10058075) Homepage Journal
    Yes. FunHi []
    here's an opinion. (I'm still too speechless from seeing the site the first time to form an opinion about it. I'm still at the "banging head on monitor repeatedly" stage)

    There is a gift store, which allows people to buy gifts for people they like. Which mostly means that guys will try to attract the attention of the girls who've uploaded the most enjoyable bikini pictures. The gifts are simply a small GIF file with a picture of something. Like flowers or a private jet. The gifts start at 1 cent. And there's nothing wrong with the gifts that cost 1 or 5 cents. But, somehow, the social dynamic of showing a list of who gave what gifts to what person, and them being listed in reverse price order, means that some people will be very motivated to buy the expensive gifts. Like the $14.99 jet plane or the $30 credit card. Remember, they're just GIF pictures. You don't even download them. And, remember, you pay for them with a real credit card.
    -Flemming Funch,

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:13PM (#10058147)
    This gadget requires that you jump through hoops and buy it stuff and the like (much as many girls do) but does NOT give you sex, human companionship, a shoulder to cry on or any of that? Well I have just one question then: WHY?????

    Sounds like all parts of relationships that guys DON'T usually like with none of the parts they do. Spending money on someone (or worse yet something) seems, well, really stupid.
  • by Destoo ( 530123 ) <> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:16PM (#10058202) Homepage Journal
    Instead of clicking a button to give food to your pet, you can click a button to debit a micropayment on your cell phone account/credit card and give your electronic significant other some virtual gadget that will make her happy/feed her/spank her.

    So at the end of her "virtual" life, you'll see how much she cost you.

    And people are loving it.
  • by DakotaSandstone ( 638375 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:19PM (#10058249)
    For those of us who remember Ultima VII [] (one of the best RPGs of all time!)...

    There was an optional mini-quest involving a lonely, melancholy woman who spent all day near the town shrine, wondering whether her father was still alive. You could offer to help find out what happened to him.

    As a 13 year old boy with very little female experience, I was really enraptured by this quest, and made it my top priority! And even though the game engine's reward was (no kidding) a text message of "She moans deeply as you passionately kiss", that was pretty cool. And it's a fond memory to this day.

    This phone game is just another way of letting people have fantasies. I don't see the problem, except that "money" is such an important factor.

  • by jlseagull ( 106472 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @03:16PM (#10059719) Homepage
    You, my friend, are whipped. Verbatim quote from the girl I've been dating for years, after I mentioned the fact "hey, we met X years ago today."

    "You know, don't bother remembering stupid things like that. Even though my girlfriends think I'm an idiot for saying this, I'm sticking by it. Make every day special for us, and I'll be yours forever. I will never ever get mad at you for not remembering these things."

    Of course, it helps that she's Eastern European and doesn't grant importance to the Hallmark Holidays(tm). American women have bought into that bullshit wholesale, I'm done with them.
  • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @04:50PM (#10060814) Journal
    The Japanese have been pumping out dating sims for years now. Very few of them have moved outside of Japan though, and the few that have are usually hentai.

    When I pondered the nature of this phenomena I could draw only one conclusion - they're much like flight sims in the sense that you could theoretically apply the skills you've built there to real life. Remember key facts about her. Give gifts. Manage your time so you can work to earn money to buy said gifts while still maintaining a relationship. Say the right things. Do everything right on a date. Climb the relationship ladder so she'll put out.

    Of course the details vary by game and all of them have a distinctly Japanese sense of relationships, which is why you see so few outside of Japan. And it doesn't have anything like the nuance of real relationships - it practically trains you not to do or expect anything unique either. And when it comes to the hentai, the "lessons learned" are frequently worthless and often morally repugnant, but nevertheless fit into some twisted perception of dating.

    So, this expensive mobile realtime version of a dating sim is just an evolution of the concept. Albeit a rather expensive one. Frankly, it doesn't seem like it needs to be online. And the fact that all "girlfriends" look alike reeks of encouraging either mental or programming laziness. It must have some other special realtime hooks, like an advanced voice synthesis and interpretation engine, or an extensive and up-to-date library of keywords and responses.
  • Re:Holy Cow! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by InfiniteWisdom ( 530090 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @05:18PM (#10061100) Homepage
    I'll attest to that. I was in almost the same situation... 23 years old and never been on a date

    At some point I decided to take the plunge into online dating and bought memberships at a website or two. Its not like things changed dramatically overnight, but I went from never having dated to having a date or two every month. Even though things didn't work out even a little bit with anyone for a long time, I felt like a lot less of a loser. Especially given that even if I got brushed off after a date, there were others I'd met mroe recently who "were in the pipeline"

    I met several very nice (often also very attractive) women, chatted a while, decided to meet. It took me a while to even get a second date though, so take what the parent said about screw-ups and learning from them seriously. Most of the girls probably went from thinking of me as a "nice, fun guy" from chatting online to "nice but horribly socially inept" guy withing the first hour. After about a year of stumbling around I learnt to read signs, be just a little less awkward etc.

    I think what the parents suggests about seeing a therapist might be a little too extreme unless you figure out there really is a problem that warrants professional help. For me, just keeping my eyes open helped go a long way. I learnt to pay attention to other people... those who are a lot more socially talented that I. Learn how to make small talk, know what topics to avoid with someone you've met 5 minutes ago, take notes from other peoples' sense of style. Don't copy them, but just observe and learn. I also made it a point to put myself in social situations that I used to avoid, talk to new people in bars/parties etc. (whether male or female).

    I really do feel like a changed person over the past year that I decided to actively do something about it.

    Well, time for me to go pick up a movie and bottle of wine and head over to my girlfriend's place :)

  • Re:Asian Guys (Score:3, Interesting)

    by f97tosc ( 578893 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @05:36PM (#10061215)
    if you have a boy first time you don't try again, if you have a girl you try again, so there's a 75% chance a child is a boy).

    No, 50% of all first born are male. 50% of all second born are also male. So 50% of all born are male. It does not matter that the second born only happen in the case where the first born was female.

  • Re:Holy Cow! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xugumad ( 39311 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @06:40PM (#10061773)
    Wow, I leave to go watch a film (I, Robot - wasn't great), and there's answers to my life, along with detailed analysis of myself!

    Not sure what to say. The problem is distinctly multi-layered. On the face of things, everything should be going fine - I have large numbers of female friends, with who I am comfortable, at points my social life has been so chaotic my flatmates didn't see me for a week (I only came home to sleep).

    That's also the problem though - I'm so used to dealing with women as friends, it's hard to act in any other way. I'm seen as comfortable, safe, and ironically enough a good source of dating advice.

    Then we hit the second layer. I freeze when flirted with. I don't mean, I stammer, or look a little nervous, I mean my first reaction is to hold completely still. I am at least mostly over the looking confused phase.

    And then we hit the third layer. I'm just plain nervous. Even when I feel comfortable, my body language screams "I'M NERVOUS". Trying to look relaxed just means I look like a really nervous guy trying to look relaxed.

    Finally, we have the situational problems. While I'm no longer drowning in lesbians, there was a distinct tendancy for women I met to hook up together, for a while. Additionally, I'm living in a small town (pop circa 20,000), which means that anyone I meet, and make a complete mess up of trying to date, I'm likely to bump into. Frequently.

    How about some positive stuff at this point? Well, I'm planning on moving once my current contract at work runs out, which should help with the situational problems. There was some promising stuff with the whole dating thing, earlier in the year, even if in the end she, drumroll please, ended up with another of my female friends.

    Was talking to one of my flatmates (female), about this post and clothes, and apparently actually there's more wrong with my choice of clothing than I thought. Fortunately, I think she can be persuaded to go clothes shopping with me at some point...

    Now if I'm really lucky you won't notice I haven't mentioned anything about the gym... seriously though, you're right. Used to do badmington regularly, really ought to start doing it again. Walk 4-5 miles a day (no car), which really helps though.

    Oh, while I'm at it - to the poster that suggested the problem was attracting the right kind of women - that's probably a problem I'll have to deal with, but am not at that stage yet. As to a therapist - maybe; certainly, I have dramatic nervousness and self confidence issues which I'm trying to deal with.

    Not sure if this post really went anywhere. Am trying to sum up large parts of my life in a neat, consise form. It's not easy. Did it all make sense? Just hit preview - yikes I typed a lot!
  • Not so funny (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @07:30PM (#10062250) Journal
    Japan is having real troubles with this. Western civilisation is already dying out because to few kids are being born but Japan is racing past europe at an alarming speed.

    Modern japanese women expect/want a more equal partnership and modern japanese males seem unable to supply that. So many girls are putting of getting married and therefore getting kids. You have heard of the baby boom? This is the opposite. A baby implosion. Even if the women simply postpone getting kids it will have a huge effect as later in live the changes of getting a healthy child go down alarmingly.

    I have now seen several documenturies on the problem so it seems to be real.

    I got the real sense that there was a huge culture clash going on with both sides expecting the other side to be something they are not.

    It is easy to say that feminisme is to blame but if you ever watched a bit of japanese culture it is also easy to see why women are fed up. A male who claims he is starving because there is nobody to cook is pathetic by western standards. I can imagine that Japanese women have grown fed up with it. It is not that the japanese women don't want to get married and have kids. They just don't want to be a slave to their husband. On the other hand the boys are still raised with the ideal of the demure wife who never talks back or makes demands.

    Having a few confirmed bachelors around the place adds color to the world. Having a nation of people unwilling to create families is asking for trouble when people are living longer and longer. Japan may not have enough people to take care of their old ones in a decade or two.

  • Re:is it just me... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kaiidth ( 104315 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @07:49PM (#10062391)
    You, dear sir, deserve intense modding-up for this comment. Wives (as with husbands...) do indeed need love, and it is not entirely unreasonable of them to expect it either.

    I think what a lot of guys miss about the giving-gifts relationship "solution" is that, essentially, it makes women feel sorry for men to see them crawl. It makes them feel pity. Not love. This is good only on occasion, if, for example, you did something to severely piss the girl in question off. The fact that this use of present-giving is relatively one-sided probably tells one something about the human condition, though I'm damned if I know what. The fact that certain guys think it equals love definitely speaks volumes about the low expectations of the human male. One would've thought that if this were entirely necessary, the marriage vows would say something about "taking this woman as lifetime recipient of one's surplus finances".

    For some reason, there's a small but significant subset of men out there who are apparently unable to sense the difference between love and pity, although I am not saying that Mr. 200 dollars of red roses is one of these people (bidding for her pity is probably a reasonable way out at that stage, though I could think of better). People with this problem would be best-off working it out at an early stage; the novelty of feeling pity for a guy eventually wears off, so they will presumably find themselves dumped as soon as the lady gets bored with pity as sole motive...

    Personally I sigh every time I see a bunch of roses heading my way, since I know it probably means that the bloke in my life has done or decided to do something that he already knows will piss me off... like standing on my Psion 5, totalling the laser printer, or accidentally throwing away urgent governmental correspondence.
  • Re:is it just me... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mingrassia ( 49175 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:36PM (#10062809)
    No, this is the most pathetic thing ever ...

    Imaginary Girlfriends [] "Real Girls, Imaginary Relationships"

    ... I swear I have to stop following the links in people's slashdot signatures :-)

  • Re:Holy Cow! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <theshadow99@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @11:03PM (#10063939)
    I haven't read past 'That's also the problem though - I'm so used to dealing with women as friends, it's hard to act in any other way. I'm seen as comfortable, safe, and ironically enough a good source of dating advice.' & I'm struck by how much you sound like me...

    I have lots of women who become friends, but it feels both strange and hard to becoem more than that... And as it is most never think of me in any romantic way to begin with so my awkward attempts to head that way only end up damage my friendships...

    The 'Then we hit the second layer. I freeze when flirted with. I don't mean, I stammer, or look a little nervous, I mean my first reaction is to hold completely still. I am at least mostly over the looking confused phase.' just adds to the likeness... I've been on a handful of 'dates' and I still often look confused when women flirt with me... I don't understand exactly what or how to repsond...

    For layer 3, I've only ever had once that I wasn't nervous and I meet a nice woman... Only to have my roomates come in and screw everything up by making me nervous... Which she seemed to take as being nervous about/with her and that kiled everything... I'll never stop blaming them for that...

    For the last point I still understand compeltely... In the past I've meet more bisexual and lesbian women than anything else... And most of the bisexual women are more interested in otehr women when I meet them (having been treated like crap by bad guys)... Now I'm in a slightly larger city... Or should I say 'near'... Technically I live 20 miles away from anything that could be called a city... But once in that city there are some 40-50k of people... But most of the population are older than I am... So the places to go for someone my age are limited and who goes are even more limited... Which reminds me of one girl I hit it off with and then I found out she was engaged to be married... Yeah while she may have wanted something on the side I'd hardly be able to leave my house if the fiancee ever heard about that... So I cut that off pretty fast... Not that from what I heard she was a real catch anyways... She was bisexual and had slept with her fiancees sister while dating him... I hear he doesn't talk to his sister anymore...

    We seem way way to similiar... Though your use of the term 'flatmate' suggests you live in another country than I do... I'm not sure that's much of a difference though...
  • by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @01:46AM (#10065058)
    I lived in Japan for eight years, and you're quite right, there's nothing especially unique about this; it's basically just a Tamagotchi for people who are old enough to jerk off.

    So, how to make it unique?

    Just a little glue. The pieces are already all in Japan.

    One of the many things that Japan is (in)famous for, and perhaps wishes it wasnt, is imekura (image clubs) and telephone clubs. An imekura is where you go for koosu-purei (course play) - sexual fantasy vignettes. For everyone salaryman who has ever wanted to be a train groper but had either too much decency or too little nerve, they have an answer: a train car mockup complete with an OL (or a young woman in a high school uniform, if that's your thing). They also have OL fantasies, nurses, the usual suspects. SM at some of them.

    Then there are the telephone clubs. The girls are often high school girls, the customers are not high school boys. Go to the telephone club, use the phone, maybe get to make a date to meet up with a girl. If you meet up, money and bodily fluids will be exchanged.

    In other words, Japan has no shortage of young women, high school girls (and even some jr. high school girls) willing to put out for money, either in a direct cash transaction or in exchange for expensive designer bags and such.

    Enter (no pun intended) the virtual girlfriend.

    You play the game. You buy her presents, do and say all the right things, etc. If you've been very good, a real, live meatspace girl (who has been getting her cut from all these virtual presents for the virtual GF) shows up.

    She doesn't know your real name. You don't know hers. But she does know your history with the virtual GF and takes over the persona for a little while in meatspace. Maybe she'll go to some function with you. Maybe have dinner or go to a movie, have a meatspace date with the virtual girlfriend. Or maybe you just head straight to the love hotel, which is what she really showed up for: real-life sex with the virtual girlfriend. Whether this would require some additional presents (most likely the foldable kind that go in your wallet) or not would have to be worked out. If, or how much,she needed would probably depend on what kind of cut she was getting from those virtual presents.

    Is this a troll or something? Heck no. Anyone who has lived in Japan for a while (and BTW, I love the place; none of this is trash-talking Japan, I'm just describing some things that are there. No, I don't go to those places; I'm married) knows that combining the virtual GF game with a meatspace temporary GF who just shows up for a no-strings-attached turn at a love hotel would be a huge hit. Not with the whole population, and maybe not long term, but for a year or two (maybe more), they'd make a killing.

    Steps will have to be taken to ensure that neither the virtual BF (hereafter referred to as "the john") nor the virtual GF (hereafter referred to as "the ho") can find out the other's identity (nothing could stop the john and the ho from sharing this info if they wanted to; the important point is just to prevent the other person from knowing who your are without your consent), but the plan itself is fully workable.

    And I won't even try to patent it ;-) However, if anyone else does, you saw the prior art here :-)
  • Is it just me.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CrazyMalaysian ( 797700 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @04:41AM (#10065803)
    Or was anyone else shocked to see the quality of that rendered screenshot. What phone is capable of putting out graphics like that?

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll