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March 11, 2005


Robert 'Groby' Blum

Sign me up! This is a wonderful idea. Well, a *developer* is the last thing thing you need for that project, but you do need one ;)

I've just spent the whole of GDC in a depression over the social shallowness of gaming in general. We could do so many fantastic things with the technology we've got, yet we wonder how we can make our guns look better... Or how to build better tools to make better guns, in my case.

(Don't tell my employers, though ;)

Rob Stevens

It's an interesting idea, Alice, but I have to wonder ... what is stopping _any_ MMO game from becoming it's own "dating sim"? Seriously, I think that rather than trying to take old models and fit them into the online world, why don't we make socialization the focus, and give people games or goals that they can accomplish together in the online world?

Plenty of people meet online in MMO games everyday, and some of them develop relationships, and some of them end up getting together, and some of them even get married. Perhaps trying to make a "dating experience" online is the wrong answer ... why do that when you can take already fun games and continue to bolster the social aspects, facilitate dating that way. Something as simple as an online schedule that ties into your "real world" schedule so you can plan to meet people at a particilar time?

Now that I put some thought into it, I think this might even be a better answer, because people who meet in-game already share some commonalities, which is a big part of attraction. I don't know a lot about human psychology, but I think that this idea heads better into the right direction. The best relationships are often the ones you stumble into. ;)

Pete C

"why don't we make socialization the focus, and give people games or goals that they can accomplish together in the online world?"

That's somewhat like the idea Will Wright had for a love game at the last GDC. Love does indeed tend to blossom when you spend time doing things together with someone, rather than being thrown together on a dating site, or speed dating or what have you.

Robert 'Groby' Blum

Rob: (Really - I feel like I'm talking to myself now! :)

The problem, however, is finding people you are comfortable with. Just because you do play the same game doesn't mean you could actually stand each other. (If I'd ever had to meet most of the people I meet in WoW, I'd probably get a migraine...)

The point of focussing on the dating aspect is giving people tools to whittle down the huge space of potential candidates. If you date the classical way, there's an upper bound of maybe a few hundred people you could potentially meet and find out if you're compatible with them.

If you're in an online world, there are hundreds of thousands that are in the same limited space - how do you find the ideal one? Plus - added benefit! - if the game focuses on dating, you know that other people there *are* interested in dating. That's, at least for shy people, a tough hurdle - "is the other party even interested in dating in general, let alone me?"

Pete: I'm amazed nobody runs with Wills ideas and tries 'em out - one of the brightest minds in game design gives out free designs, and we just say "Ah - too out there". Same thing this year - if somebody doesn't do a poetry game on the DS, we're all nuts for ignoring a great idea. (Or just not wealthy enough to finance it...)

Rob Stevens

Why don't more people run with Will's ideas? Because it's very hard to fully realize an idea that isn't yours! There's all sorts of situations Will has likely envisioned and mentally resolved, that might not even occur to someone else. That said, I'd love to see more people TRY! ;)


I don't deny that finding the "right" people online can be difficult, especially considering what I call the "jackhole factor". However, I think simply giving more socialization options, and activities to perform outside of the main thrust of the game that allow deeper socialization, will mitigate that to a degree.

Sure, within the context of a Dating Sim, you can be assured that the people you're meeting are looking for that experience, but at the same time, I think part of the thrill is the aspect of discovery, not only of the "right person", but finding out more about yourself as well. I honestly beleive that a "dating sim" game could hinder the process a bit, by forcefeeding the situation to you, even if you're expecting it. Many of the people I know (including myself) have found that love blossoms in some unexpected places. My wife and I couldn't stand each other when we first met, but a series of events that kept forcing us together caused us to learn that we had a lot in common, and now we've been married for five years, after knowing each other for over a decade!

In short, sometimes love just needs to happen, love needs to catch you off-guard, catch you by surprise. I think every overt action to take to facilitate that might slow or stifle the process. Whereas giving more socialization options (emote actions, including facial emotes, player notes, etc) might help people find love in spite of themselves. ;)


So quite - all MMOs are great social spaces. Dating will happen. This is not a problem :)

The problem needing a solution is, *dating sites and services* are rubbish. Equally, you don't want to say to people who want a serious service, 'go play games, you'll eventually find someone you like'.

So - supply a tailored, fully immersive 3D environment for would-be daters to meet up in, with match-up services. Provide tons of stuff on top of that environment for personalisation, date venues, roleplaying, testing waters, photos, whatever. But all in that Serious vein - after all, when people resort to dating services, they've usually made a Decision of some sort I think, they have a goal in mind.

Imagine how much fun that would be to make..


Have you seen There? That's as close as to a dating game I know of. It relies heavily on socialization, has music, hot tubs, bars, your own houses, etc. It's funny because in school, we're developing stuff for a fictional online dating game like you described :)


ah wait, you mentioned There. Sorry! *slaps forehead*


I'm curious - what kind of game theory would apply to subtly direct players to partners they're likely to the be compatible with?

Chris Heimpel




It's an interesting idea. Even with the current online worlds which are more biased towards socialising rather than game-playing, such as there.com and Second Life, the social tools within them are quite limited. And perhaps more than that, the emphasis seems to be more towards role playing anyway, you're almost encouraged to go there to become 'someone else'. In Second Life you can fill in a 'First Life' profile, but only a very small minority do so with any sort of useful information.

I'm sure becoming someone else is part of the appeal for a lot of people, but it's completely at odds with the idea of dating. This is also why I think just making the social tools within games richer wouldn't work, the whole, for want of a better word, atmosphere is different. Sure it'll happen anyway for some, but it would I think be possible to create an online virtual environment which is much more conducive to real social interaction, and it could have the potential to be extremely popular, especially now that your average new PC is entirely capable of running a client for such an environment.

Hmm. Startup anyonew? ;)


Grr. No idea where that w came from.

Seb Potter

The main problem that current MMO games present in terms of dating is that they lack support mechanisms for the player to feel safe within an environment where they can specifically look for a relationship of some kind.

I recently carried out a project examining available technologies for one of the larger dating services in the UK. As a gamer and student of game design and theory, the idea of an interactive environment to provide an enchanced dating service was top of my list.

The obstacles in the design of such a game are mainly the social constructs that we associate with intimacy, rather than technological issues. Sure, MMOs currently provide a channel for communications and a sense of place, but the range of non-verbal expression is highly limited, because the one place that MMO designers consistently overlook is player/player interaction.

Even Second Life - which offers a range of expression limited only by the player's ingenuity with animation scripts - doesn't offer anything approaching a usable, intuitive interface to control your avatar. (Not to mention the hideous performance problems.)

I started enumerating issues to be dealt with, but this is a comment, not a design document. I'm really genuinely interested in the idea of a game along these lines, so if anybody else wants to kick around ideas, drop me an email.


So this is the rub: the games themselves have other goals, and usually, in-game dating is a bit of a deviation from those goals, a bonus (or a harrassment, however you see it).

My thinking was that millions of quid are being spent by developers on Story, and quests, and entirely giant environments. If we took the basic technology, spent a chunk on the avatar interaction, the customisation, facial expressions, ability to skin with photos, instead - well, someone's going to do it one day, aren't they?

What fun that would be. Maybe I'll go find a willing VC..

Seb Potter

When you find a willing VC (I tried, failed) please shout. Too many think that games are still the purview of lonely pre-pubescents with pocket money to spend.

More guns, better guns, bigger guns. :(


I think the concept of a mmo dating game is a bit flawed. Part of the reason that dating sites work so well is that it takes very little time to post your profile, check and send messages. Many of the people on these sites are there specifically because they are too busy to hang out/hook up in real life social settings. How will they have time for a VR social setting? The benefit of searching profiles and using email and IM is efficiency. Also, for maximum success you usually want to date in your geographic area, hence the searching/filtering.

I think people seeking real life dates are better served with conventional dating sites, but our upcoming game Rapture Online simulates dating and romantic encounters just the same. It can be used for anything from a quick date to test the waters to a full-on erotic experience simulator, depending on the users. So, there is something like what you're all describing online but I don't think it's a practical substitute for dating site services (falling in love with people's virtual selves more often than not is less productive than quickly hooking up for a real life date).

Annet de Graaf

(imagine: MMONG (N for Networking) MMOCG (C for Charity) MMOAG (A for Art) etc) )

This is a very innovative and fabulous idea Alice! if you want any feedback on the subject contact me.

also look at http://www.workspace-unlimited.org/welcome.html

just for the fun of virtual technology development


so err
have you actualy created the game or are you just talking about what your ideal mmodg would be like cus i cant find a sign in thingy anywere


.... i dunno




Moo Moo Moo, Moo Moo Moo Moo.



Robert Sherrod

My World Tourist Game ran on the Internet for two years and attracted players from 40 countries. I'm working on a dating / adventure game set in Paris. Contact me if you would like to discuss this.


Greg Nova

I have a free dating site. It's free! After reading your note, I thought I would share my new dating site with you. It has a Dating game. The first 100 new members to join the Fantasy Dating site, will also get a free subsciption to Fantasy Dating Game. Check it out and let me know your thoughts. It brand new!

Thanks, Greg


hey im kristina and im 19 and im looking for someone to date. i live in athens ga and if you live anywhere close, email me

Yoav Zibin

I think normal casual games, like Backgammon, Chess, Checkers, Card games, etc., are more appropriate as a "dating game". Both players know the game, it´s something they can also play in real life, and they can focus on chatting while having fun. The problem is most people playing in Yahoo, for example, are bored house-wives in their 40s :)
Since most dating websites already have a chat, I think games are a natural evolution. We already licensed our multiplayer games to two dating websites (supereva in Italy, Hevre in Israel, and hopefully LoveAndFriends in UK), and they develop a strong community where people come together and play in certain times of the day.
Hopefully, we could license more, we just need more marketing people or distributors...


hey its megs 19 female, maple ridge bc..


what you talking bout george?


george ty 4 asking me out hunz i really love you xxx




Heya xxx


The trouble with dating sites is they mostly follow the same pattern. picture / profile driven. The problem with profiles are people are their own worst enemies. A better system is one where people have the opportunity to portray their nature rather than say what they think it is. Thats why some people are starting to date thru mmorpgs because its a game that requires concentration. People havent got space to behave abnormally and play the game.

I think you are/were on to something.


Hi im very friendly and a very responsible person i am the cool kind and thats all! =)


The answer to that post is quite simple.
Why doesn't that sort of service exist?

Because some people who go on dating sites aim for one thing. Naked Web cam Girls. This, of course, screw's up everyones experience in the game, littered with perverse people. Even normal games are filled with perverse people. It's hard to make sure the customers are genuine.


i love u all

hi peeps

hi guyz
im ur dream gurl

I love your point, but don't you think that women need men as much as men need women?



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