You're an alien from a distant planet, sent to Earth to harness the most powerful force in the universe, generated by a Living Organism's Volatile Emotions—LOVE. That's the strangest backstory for a dating simulator I've ever heard. It's the backstory to Flirt Planet, a social game aimed at helping awkward internet denizens learn social interactions they can apply to real-world situations.
Currently being tested in primitive form on Facebook, Flirt Planet uses its flimsy alien plot to ease players into the idea of interacting with the opposite sex in a relaxed environment. Players create an avatar and take to the streets of a virtual city, engaging in multiple choice conversations with fake people. The better the conversations go, the more resources your disguised alien gathers to send by to his or her home planet, with are exchanged for Flirt Bucks good towards purchasing new clothing, decorations and power-ups.
Banter well enough and you can add your fake friends to your little black book, setting up dates to further explore the wonderfully horrible world of dating.
Sebastian Coman, founder and creative director of developer TrulySocial, says Flirt Planet's aim is to add real meaning to shallow online social interactions.
"In a world where virtual interactions are plentiful, but largely meaningless, I wanted to bridge the gap between an amazing, engaging video game, and real life interactions for dating. Flirt Planet's mission is to make social interactions more meaningful by offering social tools in a fun, safe, and dynamic video game environment."
And from there it gets a little awkward. See, Flirt Planet will eventually act as the interactive arm of a full dating service for players 18 and up. The game will record interactions and decisions made by the player and use them to present easier or more challenging virtual companions. That same data will be applied once the dating service launches to match up players with similar play styles (although additional criteria determined by members of the service can also figure into the equation). Sounds incredibly awkward, but then I've never utilized a dating service personally, so I've no real frame of reference.
In its current form the game is a bit clunky. Energy doesn't seem to refill very fast, leaving the player stuck with nothing to do. There is no option to flirt with same sex partners—my male avatar can only acknowledge virtual males with a nod. And while the plan is to include a special area in-game where adults 18 and over can communicate and hang out, it doesn't seem to be in the game at present.
There's definite room for improvement, which is likely why TrulySocial is launching an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign on Valentine's Day (aww), giving potential players a chance to help develop advanced game features.
I've played Flirt Planet for a good half-hour now, flirting with a dozen virtual women in the process. I've gotten two phone numbers from obviously brain-damaged AI ladies, as well as a healthy respect for people still in the dating pool.
I don't feel more social, but I'm starting from a negative position. Your results may vary. Might as well give it a go.