Entertainment

What An 8-Bit Online Game Can Tell Us About The Modern Dating Scene

Two years ago, I had heard talk among some of my friends of a new online dating app that simplifies matchmaking to an absurd degree — all you need to do is either swipe right or left on photos of people. It was the hot new craze. My inquisitive mind took over and I downloaded the app.

After setting up my profile, I began mindlessly swiping across photo after photo of other people who populated the app, until eventually, there were no more photos left to swipe. What do I do now? I asked myself. I closed the app and opened it again. No new photos, no new messages. I’ll just have to wait until someone swipes right against my photo, I guess.

My phone buzzes. It was about 7 the next morning. I pick up my phone in half-slumber and find that someone has matched me on Tinder. My initial nonchalance turned to excitement as I began crafting an engaging opening message to my potential suitor. At the same time I discovered that more profiles became available for me to swipe, so I finished them all in one sitting and was left feeling empty again. This pattern repeated itself almost daily as I received sporadic responses from only a few of my matches.

All you ever do is swipe right or swipe left. No matter what you do, just keep swiping.

Millennial Swipe Sim 2015

Image Credit: fastcodesign.com
Image Credit: fastcodesign.com

That is the premise Millennial Swipe Sim 2015 parodies, which purports to simulate the “thrilling world of app-based dating”. It’s the latest game from Will Herring, creative director at Buzzfeed.

Image Credit: joe.co.uk
Image Credit: joe.co.uk

Like Tinder, the game has you swiping right or left against photos of people (albeit in colourful pixel art style). The more you swipe, the more points you get, and swiping faster gets you multipliers for even more points. You do all this while fending off an increasing boredom meter at the top of the screen.

Image Credit: notey.com
Image Credit: notey.com

Once your boredom level gets too high, you “die of boredom” and are treated to a view of your gravestone that condescendingly reads “HERE LIES A MILLENNIAL”. This isn’t the first time dating app Tinder has been the subject of satire; we’ve even had a piece of meat set up to swipe profiles on Tinder before. But what does this say about the people of today and how they date?

Dating Has Changed

It is undeniable that times have changed and millions of people connect online. Singapore’s conservative culture ensures that we will rarely see someone go into a café and ask for the number of the cutest guy or girl in there. Instead, Singapore’s plethora of singles go on dating apps to date, make friends, or hookup with people they might never meet in their usual social circle (resulting in half a dozen dating apps trying to capitalise on that).

There used to be a stigma attached to confessing that you met your significant other online, and it may still be present, but that stigma has certainly been reduced over time. More people have become comfortable with turning to online dating as an option to finding their partner.

Image Credit: techcrunch.com
Image Credit: techcrunch.com

Online dating isn’t always successful, however. Going for first date after first date can be exhausting. You also meet a fair share of people who don’t share your ideals. This might be true for ladies especially, who get an influx of harassment messages looking for casual sex when they themselves are not. A far cry from meeting your romantic partner as schoolmates or from the workplace.

“I’m Only On [Online Dating App] Because I’m Bored”

While I know friends who have found loving relationships from dating apps like Tinder, I also know several people who go into these dating apps out of sheer curiosity and/or boredom without any inclination to meet up.

If Millennial Swipe Sim 2015’s commentary on online dating wasn’t obvious enough, dating apps gamify connecting with people. Similar to an RPG, you create an idealised version of yourself or a character you feel best-suited to tackle the task at hand.

Almost like a puzzle game, you have to use your wits (and charm) to figure out how to win the heart of your conversation partner by crafting the “best” or “correct” message. And then there is that perfunctory but almost score-chasing quality to swiping more people on a dating app. Plus, it’s free-to-play! With about 50 million active users, the number of people on Tinder eclipse even that of World of Warcraft.

Image Credit: businessinsider.com
Image Credit: businessinsider.com

After a week on Tinder, I uninstalled it, deciding that it wasn’t the game for me (although I’m sure my profile is still floating around in the abyss of Tinder somewhere). Is it worth playing though? Probably. My friend’s still dating the guy she met on there.

 

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