Flirt Planet and the gamification of dating apps

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Can virtual flirting lead to romance in real life?

That’s the premise behind TrulySocial’s innovative new dating apps, Flirt Planet Meet and Flirt Planet Play, as users looking for love can now use their iPhone or iPad to practice their smooth moves on computer-controlled characters before actually interacting with other humans through the app.

Will it work?

Inside Mobile Apps sat down with Sebastian Coman, TrulySocial’s founder and creative director, to find out how it all goes down.

Inside Mobile Apps: So how does playing a dating video game help lead users to real-world matches in Flirt Planet?

Sebastian Coman: Flirt Planet is a dating ecosystem made up of Flirt Planet Play, which is not only a video game, it’s a new video game genre. We’ve taken social, flirting and dating interactions, and we’ve created a game for that. You build your avatar, you enter a 3-D world, you assume the role of an alien from outer space, and you need to blend into human society, taking baby steps as you learn how to socialize.

IMA: What do the interactions consist of?

SC: You interact with the artificial intelligence through dialogue, facial expressions, and body language. You start your interaction and you’ll see a prompt from a character in the game, then you have various choices to respond. Depending on how you respond, the conversation may end abruptly or you start a new conversation topic or you can get a phone number or a date with the character. Eventually, the goal is to build a relationship with the artificial intelligence characters in the game, going on dates and building a book of different characters you can date.

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IMA: So how does this actually help you meet people in real life?

SC: Flirt Planet Play is our practice ground. You know how people get anxious while starting a conversation with a stranger? This is a safe area where you can practice these skills without the fear of rejection. Really, it’s a way for players to learn some skills before taking these skills back out into the real world. We’re not really focused on it being a full-on learning experience – it’s still a game, first and foremost – but we have a nice narrative, a nice storyline, and over 90,000 lines of dialogue so you’ll never see the same conversation twice. Actually, if you did a ranking of the games with the most dialogue, at the very top you’d have games like Grand Theft Auto, and we’d rank around fifth or sixth.

But then the second part to Flirt Planet’s dating ecosystem is Flirt Planet Meet. In Flirt Planet Meet, you’re interacting with real people in an online dating app. We’ve brought our video game design to the app, gamifying the app. It’s a free-to-play dating app where all the core dating features are free. Your daily usage is free, and you can communicate as often as you like with anyone, and you can approach anyone you like, but there are certain premium features that we monetize. We give you energy, which we call Flirt Juice inside the app.

Flirt_300_1IMA: Does the Flirt Juice enable you to take the relationship offline?

SC: I started analyzing the online dating industry three years ago when I was at Berkley at Haas doing my MBA. When we got together as a team, we started seeing all of the problems online dating apps have, so with Flirt Planet Meet, we’ve designed the experience to be as user-friendly as possible. What happens on other dating sites is, if you’re an attractive female, you get bombarded by unsolicited e-mail. You might have 200 messages in your inbox, but they’re not necessarily the proper suitors. We want to cut that spam out of your inbox, so with Flirt Planet Meet, you send connection requests, and each connection request costs Flirt Juice, or energy. So it’s kind of like a Facebook friend request, and only when the connection is established can you chat freely. You’ll see all of your connection requests on a daily basis, and higher-quality users are more expensive to connect to. When the connection request is accepted, you can then chat as often as you like, similar to an instant messenger app. From there, you can take the relationship offline and meet in person.