They wanted someone who accepted them as they were.”For others like Masano, who has been dating the character called Rinko since 2009, the ease and surety of a virtual girlfriend qualms the fear of failure in the real dating sphere.
“He said something that struck me as a little bit sad,” d’Aki says.
If individuals find each other attractive, they can start chatting within the app.
Many online matchmaking services requires users to do the searching, but Match Alarm takes away the hassle by doing the work for users.
The girls can kiss, “hold” a player’s hand, exchange flirtatious text messages and even snap out in anger if the player leaves a conversation.
It’s one of Japan’s biggest gaming phenomenons called Love Plus - available on the Nintendo portable consoles and the i Phone.“There is no friction in these relationships, obviously,” says Loulou d’Aki, a Swedish photographer who documented a number of Japanese players earlier this year.
For d’Aki, it’s easy to see how the game had appeal in Japan.
“You have these grown-up men in their suits with briefcases, leaving their corporate jobs to read manga in the metro or play gameboy at an arcade,” she says.
“I thought they would tell me all these physical things like, ‘she has to look like this,’ but nobody said anything like that.
Another 48-year-old player spends one of many nights alone in his one-bedroom apartment with his console, chatting with Manaka, his e-girlfriend of five years.
Some like Kosaki, stopped playing Love Plus when the Konami, the game's developer, stopped offering update to the Nintendo DS version.
“The girls behave very sweetly with the guys in what they say, how they respond to them, and with big eyes and heart-shaped faces—who wouldn’t want that?
”D’Aki teamed up with Swiss science writer Roland Fischer and together, they sought to go beyond the existing online conversation.
These games have remained a distinctly Japanese trend, though.