Can Videogames Equal Romance

Stuck home on a Friday night? Well, that doesn't mean you can't have a date. Videogame companies now offer more romance-oriented alternatives so fans can flex their flirting skills alongside their joystick maneuvers.

The Sims: Nightlife expansion pack, a follow-up to the hugely successful Sims: Hot Date, plants players in a gigantic arena packed with potential love interests and perfect date spots from bowling alleys to bistros. The game scores you with an "attraction meter" that can be boosted by opting to slow dance, stare longingly into someone's eyes, or move in for a smooch.

Gamers who prefer their sexual tension closer to home can try Singles: Flirt Up Your Life by Eidos, where you and a fellow player assume the role of two single roommates. The goal? To end up in bed with each other, you need to strengthen your bond through a range of roomie activities from eating and watching TV together to doing each other's chores (which, we all know, is the way to win anyone's heart).

Can these pastimes improve your love life? "Though not designed as teaching tools, they can make you more successful in your real-life dating adventures," says Maximonline.com's videogame reviewer Scott Stein. "For example, taking a virtua-date somewhere nice will score you more points than taking her back to your crappy apartment. The more romance you can create, the better you'll do. It's sort of a mirror of real life that way-except with a reset button." And they'll definitely teach you more amorous maneuvers than Grand Theft Auto.

Matt Christensen is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio.

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