Spring. A time of reawakening. Birds are tweeting. Flowers are blooming. Couples young and old are venturing outside for slow strolls hand in hand. Romantic picnics rival any that you might read about in a Harlequin Romance novel. Yes. Love is in the air. Or is it in the gaming console? It just might be. If you’ve suffered a string of dating fails and are taking a break (or just plain giving up), a dating sim may be just the thing!

Dating Sim? What’s That?

Simulation games, or sims have long been used for teaching and training purposes[1] (i.e. flight training or military training. They have evolved as an entertainment and art form. You may remember hand held sim games like “The Sims 2 Pets” from several years ago where the goal was to take care of a simulated pet by feeding it and giving it attention. Many people are also familiar with the Sim City and Sim Farm games. Dating sims are a sub-genre which focuses on role playing games with romantic elements. Primarily produced in Japan, the main goal is to achieve a successful romantic relationship. Common features include setting a time limit to reach your romantic goal (i.e. one month or a year), and role playing through a number of real life dating scenarios to increase your sim’s interest in you. Many people love these games. In fact, one man married his sim! (See video below)

Which begs the question, “Are dating sims better than real life dating?” Below are six reasons why the answer is yes.

With Dating Sims Your Love Interests are Selected For You!

It’s like having your very own matchmaker! That’s awesome because reality is terribly overwhelming with all of the options and what not. In the real world you have to make decisions like whether to date a man, a woman, or both. What about skin tone? Do you want pecan tan, peaches and cream, cocoa or porcelain? Let’s not even talk about body shapes and sizes. Or height. Or weight. Or hair color. Or hair length for that matter. Factor in personal style, intelligence, personality, interests, religion, age, politics, profession, languages, location … why it’s a wonder anyone at all finds real life dating fun!

Dating sims on the other hand are so much simpler. There are a predetermined number of possibilities already programmed for you. Do you want the girl/guy next door, biker chick/dude’ or the sexy librarian? Select one. Done! Thanks, dating sim!

[RELATED: 5 Reasons You're Not Ready to Date]

With Dating Sims Lame Pick Up Lines Work Like a Charm!

Actually, with dating sims you’re limited to a handful of responses at any given time. Therefore, no matter what you “choose” to say, the chances that it’s the absolute right thing are excellent. Plus, if it doesn’t work the first time, try another line on your chosen sim to see if that one works. It’s a process of elimination. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a real life dating sim method? “Try the sim method of dating. It’s vastly superior!” I mean, imagine what would happen in real life if you uttered some seriously flawed and insulting line to someone you were dying to meet and impress. What are the chances that you’d get a second opportunity after the first epic dating fail?

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With Dating Sims You Always Know What Your Date is Thinking

How refreshing, right? No more wondering if you said the right thing, or did the right thing, orAnother Skin mod(Cf0 mod)Credit: Ramona.Forcella: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11004232@N08/2171304018/ if you dressed right. No matter what you do in a dating sim game, a truthful reaction will be plastered on your sim’s face or in his/her blunt reaction. If you say something and your preferred sim walks away, what does that tell you? You can’t get any clearer than that, can you? If that happened in real life, I’m not quite sure I would find that refreshing. Honest, yes. Definitely embarrassing. Still working on the refreshing part.

On the other hand if your sim is pleased with your (few) words or many sim related actions, you’ll know that immediately too. Do hearts and stars swirl around their heads? What about the chest? Is a valentine thump thumping from their chest? Score!

[RELATED: What Should We Do Next Weekend? Three Tried and True Fun Date Ideas]

Things Not Working Out? Hit the Reset Button

Oh man! How many of us wish there was a dating reset button in real life? When things don’t go right on a date, the best we can hope for is a graceful and quick exit. That emergency phone call or urgent instant message? Staged or real, anything to make it end. Not so with dating sims. Not feeling the vibe you’re getting? Don’t even bother to say good night. Just hit the reset button and start over. No stress or tension. No tears, no begging, no follow up phone calls or texts. A clean break. It’s one of the wonderful aspects of dating sim games, right?

Well, it was while it lasted. Some games have been programmed so that not saving it, or shutting it down incorrectly results in an angry confrontation from your sim the next time you start up the game. That’s kinda what happens in real life isn’t it? If this keeps up, will real life confrontation haters start avoiding their sim? That’s too much like life imitating art. Or is it the other way around?

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There Will Always Be a Happy Ending with your Dating Sim

In real life people spend time wondering if and when they will (ever) be able to “seal the deal.” Countless movies have been made on this very premise. After several dates buddies start talking about the time, effort and money being put out, all the while not knowing if there will be an eventual reward. When you have been dating long enough, questions about the future of the relationship start to arise. “Where is this going? Will we get married?” With dating sims, if you pay attention to the signs you are given and act accordingly your happy ending is guaranteed!

Fazole@plodCredit: Ramona.Forcella: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11004232@N08/3077614370/Final Note

Dating sims are more complex than has been described here. Like other sim games, they can be entertaining, engaging and sometimes addictive. Ironically, the playful reasons given for why dating sims can be better than dating in real life are the same reasons why they could turn into a problem for some. Anyone who finds themselves bashing real life dating in favor of dating sims in online forums or with their friends with statements such “Dating sims will never hurt you. They don’t lie to you. They don’t play tricks on you. They will not betray you,” should heed the warning, “Step away from the game.” The quest for love does not come with a reset button…but, um, it is true that dating sims won’t hurt you, don’t lie, won’t play tricks on you or betray you. Just saying.