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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
HK firm develops cyber girlfriend
By Jannat Jalil
BBC News

Virtual Girlfriend (courtesy of Artificial Life)
The virtual girlfriend could prove very demanding
For men without a partner, help may be at hand - in the form of a virtual girlfriend.

The Hong Kong company Artificial Life, which developed the new game, says the girl will appear as an animated figure on the video screen of a mobile phone.

But there is a downside to the virtual girlfriend - she will require more flowers and gifts than many real women.

Artificial Life is hoping to launch the new game later this year, on the latest 3-G mobile phones.

All virtual girls will look the same - but each girl will behave differently - depending on how much money is spent on her.

On top of a general subscription, men will be charged a fee to buy flowers and gifts for the virtual girlfriend.

In return, she will introduce them to different aspects of her life, like letting them meet her female friends - also electronic images.

Cash counts

If players neglect her, she will refuse to speak.

The company says the amount of money players will have to spend has yet to be determined.

But unlike other computer games, it seems that cash, not skill, will enable players to climb the different levels in the game.

The virtual girlfriend is slim and dark-haired, like the Lara Croft character in the game Tomb Raider, which won a huge male following.

The company has plans to introduce a virtual boyfriend for women, although it remains to be seen how it will persuade them to spend extra money on the game.

But it may be encouraged by the success of a Japanese company that recently created a Boyfriend Arm Pillow - for women who miss being hugged by a man at night.

The product is reportedly a big hit with the ladies.

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