Mixed-reality marriage: man weds idoru

Paul Raven @ 23-11-2009

Virtual girlDid you catch the story at BoingBoing about the guy who went and married his computer game girlfriend? The original link is all in Japanese, so details are scarce, but the young lady in question is a character from Love Plus, one of those “virtual girlfriend” games. [image by Ramona.Forcella]

Unsurprisingly, a peep at the comments thread reveals that it’s probably not quite everything it seems to be – Konami, makers of Love Plus, are quite savvy on reality-crossover marketing for these products, and I think we’re safe in assuming that the fellow in question may have been motivated by something more than a deep affection for a bundle of pixels on his Nintendo DS. The most notable thing about this story is how easily most readers seem to take it at face value.

I expect part of that has to do with the cultural mythology that surrounds Japan – much as I try to avoid it, it’s hard not to think of Japan as a country with some very alien cultural attitudes (which is ironic, given that anthropologists are often keen to point out how similar the sociocultural pressures in Japan are to those of the UK). But we’re also very accustomed to realistic and expressive avatars inhabiting computer simulations, and with a bit of research it’s probably not too hard for a well-funded development team to work out exactly which buttons to push in the mind of a player to produce the desired effect – be it tension, aggression or love.

Furthermore, people get married in Second Life and other metaverses, so a physical presence obviously isn’t a prerequisite for the required level of affection. Perhaps in countries with high population pressures and low numbers of eligible partners – China leaps immediately to mind – marrying an idoru will become more commonplace as the effectiveness of the artificial intelligences behind them increases? I’m sure that David Levy would agree with me on that…


Get over it, Orson

Paul Raven @ 30-07-2008

Same-sex marriage for the win!Via pretty much everywhere on the sf grapevine comes news that Orson Scott Card is being a reactionary ass-hat again, writing a column for the Mormon Times that states – yes, states, not infers – that same-sex marriage “marks the end of democracy in America”.

WTF?

I guess I’m just lucky to have been raised by parents who taught me to value people by their actions and character rather than their gender, skin colour or sexual preference, but I just don’t understand this attitude. I mean it really makes no sense to me. Why does Card care? Really? How does gay marriage harm him, or anyone else? How does it undermine democracy?

Card’s not a homophobe, though – or so he’d have us believe. I think I’ll leave it to Yonmei at the Feminist SF blog to shred that claim:

He riffs a bit on how


Get hitched in sub-orbital space

Paul Raven @ 19-06-2008

Getting married is all about making your day as special as possible, right? Well, if you’ve got the cash and you don’t intend to tie the knot until 2011, you might want to think ahead and book your service with SpaceWedding, who promise to fly you to over 100km above the surface of the planet while you exchange your vows. [via Pink Tentacle] [image from SpaceWedding website]

Space Wedding logo

But, like I say, you’ll need a fairly hefty amount of money. The service costs the equivalent of US$2.2million … though that does include:

“… the cost of transportation to and from the launch site, accommodations, a live broadcast of the ceremony to friends and family at a reception hall on the ground, and 4 days of rehearsal.”

A bargain! If anyone needs a ring-bearer, drop me a line via the contact page, OK?