Lonely hearts seek vir­tual girl­friends at Hong Kong fair

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Vir­tual re­al­ity games usu­ally prom­ise shoot ‘em up ad­ven­tures but in Hong Kong Fri­day lovelorn tech fans donned head­sets to go on imag­i­nary dates. The city’s an­nual Ani-Com and Games fair sees thou­sands queue to try out the lat­est con­soles or buy up comic book col­lectibles, of­ten dressed up as their fa­vorite char­ac­ters. But for those who had spent too long alone in their rooms, a new VR smart­phone app of­fered some ro­man­tic so­lace.

Users can choose be­tween four fe­male mod­els and spend a va­ca­tion with them in ei­ther Ja­pan or Thai­land, join­ing them on trips to cafes, hot springs and karaoke. They slot their phones into a plas­tic head­set and are then im­mersed on a date, dur­ing which they can choose op­tions for ac­tiv­i­ties. Pro­mot­ers of the Hong Kong-made app, which is known by its Can­tonese name “leoi yau” or “VR travel friend”, said it was to help what they called “Otakus” to prac­tice their dat­ing skills.

The name is a Ja­panese term for ob­ses­sive manga or anime fans. “We want to al­low more peo­ple to try out what it’s like to date a girl be­cause there are a lot of Otakus who don’t know how to com­mu­ni­cate with girls,” Mar­garet Ming, the app’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer, said. “This game can teach them how to get to know girls,” Ming said, adding that there is some flirt­ing in­volved in the story arcs with the mod­els. Stu­dent Wong Wing-ye­ung, 14, said he en­joyed try­ing out the app at the fair Fri­day as it could be hard to in­ter­act with the op­po­site sex in real life.

“Maybe it can help those who are shy with girls,” he said. The app is free, while the plas­tic head­set and mag­a­zine in­tro­duc­ing the women to date cost HK$48 ($6). The show at the city’s har­bor­side con­ven­tion cen­tre is one of the big­gest of its kind in Asia and was packed with teenagers, many of them in col­ored wigs and cos­tumes mim­ick­ing their fa­vorite Ja­panese comic book he­roes. Die-hard comic fans posed with life-size ul­tra-re­al­is­tic mod­els of Won­der Woman, Thor and the Hulk at the stall for Hot Toys, a lo­cal firm fa­mous for its fig­urines. Oth­ers posed for self­ies with peo­ple dressed as Star Wars storm troop­ers. —AFP

HONG KONG: A gamer, cen­ter, tries a vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) game as comic book and gam­ing fans at­tend the an­nual Ani-Com and Games Fair in Hong Kong. —AFP

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