Virtual boyfriends (cat ears optional) at Tokyo Game Show

A woman play a romantic video game with virtual boyfriends at the annual Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, on September 18, 2014
A woman play a romantic video game with virtual boyfriends at the annual Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, on September 18, 2014

Are you disappointed by the man in your life? Tired of his stubbly chin and the way he lies around the house? Or would you just like a boyfriend with cat's ears?

Then the answer may be at the Tokyo Game Show, in a special booth crammed full of the latest romance simulation games, where well-turned out 'digital men' offer flowers and cookies at the drop of a hat (and then pick the hat up and tidy it away).

Voltage Romance Apps, whose average user is a woman aged around 30, has a range of games in which players flirt with a fictional handsome, clean shaven flatmate.

The free-to-download "Room Share Love Days" does what it says on the tin, and allows the player to "enjoy sharing a home with a variety of cute guys," a company spokeswoman told AFP.

These fictional flatmates don't laze around on the sofa or steal food from the fridge, but instead present the player with flowers on their return home, don aprons to make heart-shaped chocolates and will kiss and cuddle at the press of a button.

Voltage say their games are played by couples and singles and are in the process of being translated into English.

Other titles include scenarios such as the "kabe-don" phenomenon—a fantasy popular in Japanese anime of a tall man leaning over a girl against a wall.

One slightly less cute version of the romance is one with a spy-theme that has been "designed for North American women's tastes," by Voltage in San Francisco, said the spokeswoman.

More than 400 developers are showcasing their products at the Tokyo Game Show—which is Asia's largest video game exhibition
More than 400 developers are showcasing their products at the Tokyo Game Show—which is Asia's largest video game exhibition

The games are designed to be played on smartphones and include features that make them readily shareable with friends.

For the young woman who wants something that little bit out of the ordinary, game developer Ambition is offering teenagers the chance to keep a "half animal, half boyfriend" pet on their phones.

"The cat boyfriend—which has cat's ears and a human body—is most popular, as its the most sophisticated," said a spokesperson for Ambition.

These "animal boyfriends" can be ordered to "study," or "work" to buy new clothes and accessories.

Another developer, Sunsoft, is focusing on a genre called "BL" or Boys' Love, featuring homosexual romances between young, good-looking men that are aimed squarely at women.

Over 200,000 visitors are expected to visit the annual Tokyo Game Show, which will end on September 21, 2014
Over 200,000 visitors are expected to visit the annual Tokyo Game Show, which will end on September 21, 2014

The genre has pedigree in Japan's vast manga industry.

"We have some 50 years of history as a game developer but we entered the smartphone game industry two years ago with BL games," said a Sunsoft spokeswoman.

"We hope to expand our customer base to older people with more titles," she said. "The latest one involves mafia".

The Tokyo Game Show, where more than 400 developers are showcasing their games, is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.


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© 2014 AFP

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