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I got married in Tokyo Game Show’s real-life romance sim

I didn’t find love, but I found a pretty good story

allegra got married at TGS Allegra Frank/Polygon

I didn’t expect to get married during Tokyo Game Show.

To clarify: I did not get legally married on the showfloor. But in its spacious dating game-themed area, I spent a solid hour getting romanced by beautiful men whose jobs it was to pamper me. A trio of booths that simulated popular romance titles (from mega-publisher Voltage) gave me the chance to find love — or at least some hilarious photo shoot opportunities.

First on the tour was what was called the carousel — a bright pink, Victorian circus-like booth. Apparently inspired by a mobile game called Standing On My Heels, the carousel enticed me not just with its unique decor, but with the promise of a free makeover. I am a woman who cannot resist free makeovers, and I am not ashamed of it in the slightest.

This makeover, I found out, was meant both to make me feel less exhausted and more adorable for Tokyo Game Show, and to doll me up for a nice, fancy gentleman. (Each booth only featured male companions, by the way, making the gender and preference of players irrelevant.) The makeup turned out disappointing; the artist just added some very light blush and lipstick while covering up my birthmarks, for some reason. But Akira, who then took my hand and asked for a photo with me, couldn’t stop telling me how cute I was.

allegra at the TGS carousel
Akira was a thousand times cuter than I was, obviously.
Allegra Frank/Polygon

Seduction was the next chapter of my personal romance simulation. Now that I was prettied up, I obviously had to get into an intimate encounter with a guy far more assertive than me. (I have played enough of these games and read enough shoujo manga to know how this works.) This scene drew inspiration from a historical game called Samurai Love Ballad. After I took my shoes off and stepped onto a tatami mat, a guy dressed in traditional samurai robes told me to choose one of several objects.

“What about this sword?” I asked, pointing at a sheathed katana.

He shook his head. Same thing happened with a fan. But a folded-up robe was fair game, apparently, so I grabbed that.

“Now come here,” he said forcefully. It was ... uncomfortable, or it would have been, had I not known the drill. I walked over to him, and he draped the robe on my shoulders. He pulled me in close.

“I love you,” the samurai said.

samurai love ballad scene
The samurai was by far the best actor of the bunch.
Allegra Frank/Polygon

You may think that I married him after this, but that’s not how Samurai Love Ballad works. (Also, again: uncomfortable.) No, Voltage had a separate marriage game for me to play, and it was the most popular one of all.

I waited in line for 45 minutes — 45! — to walk down the aisle with a very pretty, very made-up European. This game also featured a few different parts: First, he complimented me. Then he walked me down the aisle. Then came the veil, followed by a bouquet; a photo replaced an exchanging of rings and a kiss, which was a nice twist. But what really made the wait worth it was the final touch, which was a gigantic marriage certificate that my new husband signed and stamped.

My total stranger of a spouse seemed like a decent dude, for the record. Sure, I didn’t know him or his name, but he thanked me for giving him a break from speaking Japanese, asked me where I was from and apologized for making me wait so long.

“I’ve got a lot of wives,” he said. “You know how it is.”

allegra’s wedding photo from tgs
The requisite wedding photo.
Allegra Frank/Polygon

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