Dating – it’s something everyone feels they need to do, but there are so many that don’t have the time to really go out and meet people, or maybe they don’t know how, or maybe they are not confident enough. Regardless of the personal reason, the evolution of dating and flirting online has evolved by leaps and bounds due to the nature of web anonymity. However, this is not limited to simply dating sites, but many dating games and simulations as well.
In Japan, dating sims have become extraordinarily popular in their fast paced and technological culture, and like so many times before, that popularity has migrated to the United States as well. One such example of an Americanized sim is AvaPeeps FlirtNation by Digital Chocolate.
The game begins with the creation of your own personal paper doll style avatar as you customize his or her look to reflect your own. Once your avatar is created and you have registered a name, the game takes you on an immediate “first date” which is basically a tutorial level. The way it works, is you answer a few questions about what to “do” on the date, and based on the answers your “date” provides, determines how well it goes.
Of course, after the initial tutorial date, you have to go out on your own and customize your profile. In your profile you can change your clothes, your personality traits, and even select some theme music to go with your personality. Then it’s time to make the scene, as you spend AvaChips to visit various clubs, beaches, and other locations in order to meet and flirt with new people. If you successfully flirt with them, you can go out together on virtual dates (like the tutorial date) as well as send messages back and forth to each other in the hopes that a real relationship and/or friendship develops.
Currently, the game is still in its beta stages, but even now the numbers seem promising. Paul Abbassi, CTO of Digital Chocolate reports that of the initial 10,000 users, more than 25% are playing everyday, and over 10% are actively participating in the beta by sending feedback to help further improve the experience.
What is most interesting, however, is that AvaPeeps was originally a mobile game that migrated to the web space (rather than the other way around). That said, you are also capable of playing the game using T-Mobile, BOOST, Virgin, or Three (in the UK). Mobile games isn’t particularly unusual, but in this case, the game has been tied to the web version as well, allowing players to interact with each other in real time, from anywhere, regardless of whether or not they are using the web or a mobile device. And people are using this method as well: According to Abbassi, “since 2007, almost 2% of BOOST’s 4 million users have played AvaPeeps.”
Since the game is still in beta, it is still evolving as the developers receive more feedback from its users. As such, it is expected that the game will begin to incorporate more and more social gaming features native to the web space such as an avatar-goods economy. Furthermore, it is also stated by Abbassi, that AvaPeeps will also be available, in the future, for Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, and other major social networks. So far, AvaPeeps looks quite promising and the final product should be even better.