Shortly after making amends, he stuffed Rinko into his pocket. Rinko is the first girl to whom Tkaczevski has ever said such words.
Rinko is also a video game: Though LovePlus is sold exclusively in Japan and in Japanese, thousands of men and women around the world -- from high-schoolers to the middle-aged scattered from Johannesburg to Jacksonville -- have become hooked on the companionship its digital girlfriends provide.
An unofficial version of the game is also available with some text translated to English. Some play to better prepare themselves for real-life dating, others as consolation for the pains of romance gone awry.
And even as LovePlus players acknowledge that their lovers are virtual, many say the support and affection they receive feels real -- the latest sign that virtual reality has so insinuated itself into everyday life that it is leaving the imprint of the genuine article.
In the course of an instant message chat, Tkaczevski describes his relationship with Rinko as that of a standard boyfriend or girlfriend.
He is careful to clarify: Yet a version of this vision has already come to pass. People have turned to the LovePlus ladies as a form of practice in picking up girls, as a reprieve from the awkwardness of face-to-face encounters, and as a refuge in the unwavering support of a woman who can never, ever leave them.
And the players can shape their ideal companion with a few taps on the console: The women can be programmed, with their moods and personalities adjusted to suit the desires of the player.
He plays LovePlus at least once a day for 20 minutes and considers Manaka his girlfriend of 18 months. The LovePlus girls even enjoy special favors that real women can often only envy.
Last August, a player in the United States baked and frosted a birthday cake for his darling Rinko, a common gesture among many gamers.
The LovePlus girls were born in at the Konami Corporation, a Tokyo-based company that sells everything from trading cards to slot machines.
Konami declined to comment for this story. Three versions of LovePlus have collectively sold more than , copies , with a fourth installment due this spring.
Previous dating simulators, which debuted in the early s, offered "girl get" games that ended once the player got the girl.
But Konami bucked convention to allow for a never-ending virtual love affair: Successfully wooing a girl leads to a second, open-ended phase of the game in which players can date their virtual girlfriends forever.
The game only ends when a player decides he or she is through, and these digital relationships can last longer than some marriages.
In one famous instance, a LovePlus player known only as "SAL" made history by marrying his virtual girlfriend, Nene.
Set against the backdrop of a fictional Japanese city, LovePlus gamers assume the role of a teenage Japanese boy who hopes to date one of three girls he meets at his new high school.
The girls have animated avatars with heart-shaped faces and large black eyes, and they speak set phrases that are pre-recorded by professional singers and voice actresses.
The high school girls will kiss, model bikinis and moan when players stroke their chests with a stylus, but sex and nudity are out of the question.
Neither the chastity nor young age of the girls has kept players from being attracted to their girlfriends, however. There are fans who snuggle up with "hugging pillows" that are printed with life-sized portraits of their girlfriends, which are available in clothed or semi-nude versions.
Tkaczevski says he sleeps with his Rinko pillow because it "extends the companionship of the game. It was released in Japan in Several updates and sequels have followed, including one for iOS in It has not been released outside Japan.
LovePlus i is an iOS app that was released on December 12, Manaka, Rinko, and Nene are sold separately for yen each.
In early Kodansha announced that it would launch LovePlus spinoff manga serials starting in April through early May in five different Kodansha magazines: Manaka, Rinko and Nene each have their own storyline .
It also features a new character, Akira Yukino, a sophomore. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the platform game , see Love video game.
Retrieved 14 July Love Plus is getting a manga? Retrieved 28 September