There is no one reality that we all live in. Our lives can be classified as either “actual” or “virtual.” Some things may happen on this physical plane, while other things only happen behind a glass screen. In class, we talked about how our very real feeling of “love” is a virtual concept. We can’t touch love in a physical sense. We cannot hold love in the palm of our hands in any literal way. Love is both real and not-real, all at once. Yet we never question that love (as a concept, as a feeling, as a state of being) exists.
So that made me wonder… How far can we stretch this idea of love? If love is a virtual sensation, can love exist solely in a virtual world?
I don’t mean “are online relationships possible?” because we all know that it is perfectly feasible to have a meaningful human connection with another human being solely through an electronic medium. That’s not the issue here. I’m interested in something a little less mainstream…
This is Love Plus. You may have heard of it; unless you follow video games/Japanese culture closely, you probably haven’t. A bit of background: the Japanese are fond of dating sims–games where, as the name implies, your mission is to get a number of beautiful women/men to fall in love with you. (It can get pretty explicit. I may go so far as to say that, generally speaking, seeing these erotic images is the main goal of the game). Love Plus is different. Love Plus is about finding one girl and cultivating a tender relationship with her. Every day, you will spend some time together; every day, your relationship gets a little stronger. It was a big hit in Japan–people loved it. They loved it so much that, in fact, one infamous man went so far as to marry his Love Plus girlfriend.
Most people are going to just write this guy off as crazy. But is he really?
If love is a virtual experience anyway, then why can’t a man find true love with his virtual girlfriend? Is it really impossible that he feels genuine emotion from this “fake” girl? I don’t think so. We often feel fond of particular characters when we watch films and things; we cry when bad things happen to them–so isn’t it a logical extension that we could even love them? Furthermore, Love Plus is designed to (in a way) return the emotions you put in, so it furthers the notion that we could love and be loved by a video game character. Our virtual love can become an actual feeling in our metaphorical/actual hearts. Isn’t that really just the next step of our eventual union with the machine? Before we can become the machine, we must learn to truly love it. That’s what I think, anyway.