Japan is an exceedingly normal place when it comes down to daily life, but for some reason the culture’s social norms are—how should we put it—famously elastic. As reported by Vocativ, virtual reality played a big part in a recent marketing campaign for an upcoming sequel to the dating sim series Niizuma Lovely x Cation that saw the non-legal marriage between a number of men and their virtual girlfriends interacting through an HTC Vive headset.
Developed by Japanese adult game studio Hibiki Works, Niizuma Lovely x Cation lets you simulate creating a relationship with an anime girl and come face-to-face with her in VR. While it may seem ridiculous to some, the dating sim genre has a serious following in Japan, and its extension into VR is only logical.
According to Vocativ, between April 28 and May 28, Hibiki Works started collecting applications from its player base to see who wanted to marry one of three lucky brides-to-be: Yuki Isurugi, Aiko Kurihara or Nono Naruse. On June 12th, the lucky grooms received an email on how to dress and what to bring to ‘make the day go smoothly.’
Reportedly officiated by a real priest, a number of men donned an HTC Vive on June 30th at a chapel in Tokyo and were united in holy matrimony. The marriages were performed privately (besides the one shown in the video above) and lasted around 5 minutes per wedding—of course sealed with a virtual kiss which was simulated by an attendant with a pair of rubber lips on a stick.
While the wedding ceremonies were held as promotional tool for the studios upcoming Niizuma: Lovely x Cation, the fact that VR is already playing a big part in how fans interact with a genre as mind-bending as dating sims tells much about where the next frontier of digital-human interaction is headed. There’s a clear desperation for human interaction that isn’t being fulfilled in a portion of the population, and VR might help bridge those gaps—for better, for worse, for richer, or for poorer. Either way, we’re not here to judge.