My Experience with a Dating Sim

So, about a week ago, after hearing a ton about it online, I downloaded the phone app Mystic Messenger. A dating sim.

For those of you who don’t know, a dating sim is a game of sorts, usually played on a phone (although some are available on the Internet), where you interact with a series of men, each of whom have different personalities. As the game progresses, you get to single out your favorite and enter a relationship with him. To qualify this, the characters are all fictional. You’re not actually getting in a relationship in real life (hence the “sim” for “simulation.”)

Mystic Messenger, unlike most other dating sims, operates on real-time, meaning that conversations occur throughout the day rather than when you choose to play. It also functions in the form of text messages, phone calls, and chat rooms (which are basically group chats). These combine to form a game that feels like reality. Every message I got made me so excited to see what was happening or what a character had said, just like any normal text message from a friend would make you feel.

I’ll admit, the ability to respond is limited, as you’re generally only given two or three options to contribute, and sometimes you don’t think you’d respond with any of them. But playing along for character reactions is sometimes equally as fun as being yourself. How will a character respond if you make a rude comment or say something completely ridiculous? It adds to the charm of the game.

However, I think one of the greatest things about the game are the random compliments you receive while playing. Yes, they’re fictional men (dating sims are all pretty heteronormative, although Mystic Messenger lets you attempt to romance a woman) but the words they say feel genuine. For example, when talking with the man I was aiming to romance, he told me I was “cute” multiple times and also how grateful he was for me being around. It’s not much in the scheme of real life, but it is a little confidence boost that can keep you going.

The game is ultimately a little ridiculous (especially if you’re trying to complete it 100%, which requires waking up at 3 a.m. to answer chats) but it’s a fun distraction from our crazy lives.

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