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.
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.
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.”