You may have heard the term “virtual dating” and assumed that meant “online dating” or “Internet dating”, which are themselves synonymous. Frankly, I’ve probably used the term “virtual dating” on this dating blog as a synonym of online dating. But virtual dating is something completely different. Let’s take a look.
Virtual dating is literally a date that takes place online. The idea of virtual dating is that you aren’t expected to meet – at least at first. Two people will meet at an virtual dating site much like they would in a standard online dating room, either in a chat room or a message board or even an email exchange after viewing each other’s online dating profiles. But when it comes time for a date, the two meet in a virtual environment for their date.
This virtual setting might be a virtual cafe, a virtual museum or a virtual resort. The two people manipulate avatars through the scenery, talking with one another via online chat or IM functions. They interact like they’re on a live date.
Virtual Dating? Come On!
I’m not kidding here. Not only is virtual dating a legitimate activity for people living in the real world, legitimate media outlets have reported on v-dating and proclaimed that virtual dating will one day replace (or at least improve) online dating.
Internet Dating 2.0
Time Magazine reported in 2007 that virtual dating was a growing Internet activity and that, as interactive technology advances, virtual dating through avatars will become commonplace. Scientific American Magazine, the oldest continually published magazine in the United States (first published in 1845), has stated that v-dating is the next step in Internet dating.
A joint study between Harvard University and MIT has even shown that virtual dating has a better success rate than a live date after choosing a date using simple profiles. That is, if two people get together for a virtual date or “date by avatar” and later decide to meet face-to-face, that date has a better chance of being a success. Virtual dating is a way to vet your date list, so you don’t end up wasting a bunch of time and money going out to real restaurants, concerts or museums.
In other words, virtual dating is a half-date. Virtual dating is the coffee shop of the future, where you can meet a person and decide whether to go on a full date, or go your own separate ways.
So I’m burying the headline here, I suppose. Virtual dating doesn’t assume the two of you will never get together live. It’s not some fantasyland dating or sims dating with another person on the other end of the computer. I bet you thought I was talking about an MMORPG with sexy talk thrown in.
Online Dating + Online Gaming = Virtual Dating
Of course, there is a gaming aspect to virtual dating. In a way, you and your date manipulate an avatar around a virtual location and comment (ie interact) with that environment. In doing so, the two of you get to know one another while sharing a virtual experience.
That might sound geeky, but just imagine virtual dating like it’s a chat session where you have prompts for things to talk about. Instead of fumbling around talking about your likes and dislikes and how your day at work went, the two of you can comment on what you think about the dating area the two of you are moving through.
That might take some getting used to, but at least most guys 40 and younger are used to virtual gaming, so this shouldn’t be too alien to you. For most women, virtual dating might take some getting used to, but for every woman who has had a boyfriend that loved the XBox or Playstation a little too much, you’ll know virtual dating can be a draw for a guy. At least you know you’ll have his attention for a while.
As for guys, you might finally put all those gaming skills to good use. If you don’t enjoy sitting in a chat room for hours, virtual dates are another option.
The Future of Virtual Dating
Virtual dating has unlimited potential. The virtual technology might be a crude at the moment, but it’s only going to improve. Eventually, virtual dating is going to look pretty darned close to real life, while your virtual dating avatar will also look like you (if you want it to).
In a hundred years, there’s no telling what virtual dating will look like. Heck, you might be dating androids by that time. Or maybe we’ll go on virtual dates for the amusement of our android overlords.
Seriously, though, virtual dating is going to become a bigger part of online dating as time goes, so you might consider becoming a pioneer and joining the virtual dating scene in its early adopter phase.