Love Plus is a new Japanese dating simulation for the Nintendo DS that requires a fair amount of interaction between you and your simulated date. Including kissing!

Having selected a virtual girlfriend (let's say Rinko), you're supposed to engage her interest in real time, by taking her out on dates and planning things together. She may be shy at first, sending you mixed signals about your relationship with her. Eventually, though, if you play the game right, the two of you become more intimate. In an interview on boingboing about the game, Koh, a married man, answers some questions:

Q: "Koh, what do you and Rinko do together?"

Koh: "OK, this is pretty embarrassing. The DS has a mic and a touchscreen, so... one time, she asked me to say "I love you" a hundred times into the mic. I was on the airplane when she asked me that, so I was like, no way. There was also this part where you have to hold her hand on the touchscreen. If you touch her hand with the stylus, you get to hold her hand. And then there's the part where you have to kiss her."

Q: "Did you do it?"

Koh: "No, no! The girl's face shows up on the screen, and you have to touch her lips to give her a kiss. That's pretty weird.... this is embarrassing. I'm sweating right now just talking about it."

Science fiction writer William Gibson popularized this idea of a relationship with a virtual girlfriend in his 1996 novel Idoru, in which a virtual person, an idoru or idol-singer, seems so real to fans that some of them want to marry her:

"What did Blackwell mean, last night, about Rez wanting to marry a Japanese girl who isn't real?" "Idoru," Yamazaki said. "'Idol-singer'. She is Tei Toei. She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents, the creation of information-designers. She is akin to what I believe they call a 'synthespian', in Hollywood."

I note in passing that this would be an interesting game to implement on sf writer Frekerik Pohl's joymaker , a smartphone from his 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot that could kiss you back.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of Technovelgy.com)