Cloud Girlfriend has gone live. It didn't quite turn out to be the kind of game I had envisioned at first. Instead of interacting with a fully fictional character, the aim is now for both men and women to join and create fictional versions of themselves. These super-avatars will then have 'dates' with each other, and may eventually decide to meet each other in real life.
The initial pitch presented romance as an alternate reality game with a written or scripted non-player antagonist, played entirely online. The version that has now emerged takes cloud romance out of the virtual and connects it to real life. But it's not quite a dating service and it's still definitely not about tricking people. Unlike online dating sites
where the lovely blonde with a trust-fund might really be a balding male accountant having a laugh, both players know that Cloud Girlfriend is a game in which they are playing a character who's interacting with another player character. Any cloud romance that develops would be like a WoW romance or a LARP romance, which has lead to at least two successful marriages in my close circle of real-world friends.
It's actually quite a nice approach to meeting people. In a game environment, we can explore what our reactions might be in extreme or at the very least interesting circumstances. You often get to know surprising things about people's personality once you've fought dragons together or had to wrangle influence from the city's leading vampire. Cloud Girlfriend shows you the kind of person the other player would like to be, their own ideal version of themselves. It can be very enlightening to see what someone's greatest desires, dreams and ambitions are. And if you decide to meet the real person, I predict immensely rewarding relationships emerging. You have both shown that you can think big and want to reach for the sky. In really good relationships, two people help each other continue to believe in their wildest dreams and work towards their ideals, and through cloud dating, that is exactly the game you play.
If I wasn't already quite happily married, I think I'd have just talked myself into cloud dating.