It's mind-expanding to see what people do in other places. I just read about a popular new activity in China. On the surface the activity sounds crazy but, as you ponder it, you realize it makes some sense and could catch on here.
The most talked about game on China's version of Twitter (Weibo) is a mobile activity called "Love and Producer." The game has been downloaded by 10 million users, almost all female. In the game users are a female character and have the option is selecting one of four boyfriends -- an egotistical CEO, a sensitive scientist, a motorcycle-riding policeman or a cute pop-star.
Players interact with their imaginary boyfriend frequently, often daily. The game is free but players can pay in advance for texts and voice-messages from their boyfriend which are designed to "advance the plot." On Valentine's Day, for instance the policeman-boyfriend leaves a long voice-message asking, "Why are you sleeping so far away from me? Did I do something wrong? It must be my fault. Tell me, honestly, why aren't you able to sleep?" The messages have pauses for the players to talk back.
Players say they find the game engrossing. Surprisingly many are married women who confess to playing as a "guilty pleasure."
It's been my experience that when society doesn't meet our needs, we search -- often with great ingenuity -- for alternate paths to fulfillment. For example, most of my life I was forbidden from living publicly as a woman -- so I dressed privately in female clothing and explored female life in secret. Similarly, a heterosexual woman whose emotional need for romance is not being met in real life might retreat into an imaginary world where a hunky boyfriend pays attention and caters to her. That's not far-fetched, is it? Seen this way, "Love and Producer" is simply an extension of romance novels, offering similar rewards with more intensity.
What do you think?