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The virtual romance gamer is attracted to drama-driven story lines, says Kentaro Kitajima, vice president of Voltage.

“[They enjoy] our content like they would reading comics or watching TV,” Kitajima explains.

Yuna says the appeal of virtual romance games lies in the dreamlike world they offer.

“It’s like I understand them.” last year found that nearly 40 percent of single Japanese millennials were not interested in romantic relationships, describing them as “bothersome.” And in the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2014 that there were now more single people in the country than married ones.

For millennial women, in other words, the status quo is undergoing a seismic shift, one that engineers at gaming companies are busy mapping.

Voltage estimates that a quarter of its 40 million players are overseas.

The company has already adapted 33 games for the North American market, and three years ago, it opened a San Francisco office. Where Nameless allows the gamer to play matchmaker, My Virtual Boyfriend, an American app, takes a more direct approach, providing a wide selection of male sims that peer out and speak to the player in a pseudo-relationship setup.

The scenarios may be “unrealistic,” she adds, but they hold sway nonetheless. Virtual companionship, once a niche Japanese subculture, has mushroomed into a lucrative global industry.

The first wildly popular virtual romance game created specifically with women in mind, called Angelique, was released in 1994 by a team of female developers at the Japanese gaming company Koei. Voltage, the leading company in the Japanese market, currently offers 84 different romance apps.

It requires us to take risks, face rejection, and revise our priorities.

Which begs the question: Can virtual relationships prepare gamers for real ones? They view their gaming habits as a positive form of escapism that also happens to teach virtues like empathy and tolerance.

In order for their relationship to progress, Mook must continually download Star-Crossed Myth and its sequels.

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