Flirt in the Metaverse and Hook Up in the Real World With ‘Flirtual’ Dating App
VR meetups and VR dates are already a thing. In fact, we are already grappling with some real-world dating challenges in the metaverse such as groping of avatars in the metaverse. A new VR dating app, Flirtual, aims to take VR dating to a whole new level of realism, transforming metaverse meetups into real-life experiences.
Flirtual is more than just your typical gimmicky virtual reality dating or gaming app. In fact, the founders say they want the meeting of avatars in virtual reality to grow into something more meaningful that can facilitate real-world relationships. Flirtual is, therefore, unique in the sense that it is not a “cold turkey” metaversal experience that completely uproots you from the real world and engulfs you in a computer-generated world almost totally divorced from the lived experience.
The app has been designed to match VR users on dates and make dates happen in social VR apps. People are already meeting in virtual reality and getting romantic even without virtual dating apps but Flirtual wants to codify it by offering an exclusive platform where that happens.
It also builds on an already growing and pre-VR trend where people meet in online games and go on to form real-life relationships. Virtual friendships and partnerships have sprouted in the many cyberworlds that have permeated our lives over the past decade such as Second Life, World of Warcraft, and Runescape and many of these online friendships often overflow into the real world.
With the advent of VR, VR gaming, and social VR spaces, the same trend is playing out inside immersive environments. Virtual Reality indeed takes it a notch higher by enabling players to ‘meet’ and interact in the form of avatars as opposed to the traditional 2D media that is mostly focused on text and voice. And as avatars are poised to get even more realistic, it is easy to see how VR dating will closely mimic real-life face-to-face encounters. In the virtual environment, you are not just bringing your personality into play but you are able to radiate some of the nonverbal cues that are so important in traditional dating settings such as body language so it has the potential to be quite immersive.
Still, as of 2022, VR characters are merely represented by comical avatars that look nothing like the real person so VR dating still offers a modicum of anonymity. The experience, is, however, richer than on traditional digital screens. For instance, instead of merely dance emotes like in MMOs, you can actually flaunt your real dance moves in VR and even have your avatars dance together with that of your date. The extra immersion in VR provides greater latitude for intimacy than Facebook or Tinder meetups.
The realism that the VR platform offers makes it the perfect spot for making real-life relationships according to the creators of Flirtual. The VR dating app matches dates according to their shared interests and then makes the date happen in virtual reality.
Flirtual is not a self-contained social VR app. It is also available on other non-VR portals such as Windows, Android, and browsers. Once the app has matched users in VR, the user can then decide on how the VR meetup will take place. According to Fluvial, the majority of the socializing it has facilitated has happened in the social VR app VRChat.
If you have used online dating apps before, you won’t have a problem navigating Flirtual. However, there are some points of departure from traditional dating apps. For instance, instead of your pictures, you upload pics of your avatars. The sign-up process is however familiar as you will be asked the typical questions on the kind of person you are interested in meeting. There is a field for ‘Sexual Orientation’ as well as one for ‘Experimenting in VR’. Another VR-specific feature of the app is that you will be asked the kind of virtual reality gear you own as well as your preferred social VR apps. These are important as they will be used in facilitating the VR date.
Dating someone merely based on what their avatars look like might seem counterintuitive but Flirtual creators say this is part of the appeal of virtual reality dating for a lot of people. Flirtual says that when looks in VR are based on anonymous avatars, it is the personality that shines, through and that Flirtual serves as a “vibe check” in virtual reality before someone sends their IRL pics or video calls to reveal their real self.
Apart from matching dates in VR, Flirtual hosts a number of social events and speed dating in virtual reality.
The co-founders of Flirtual, Anthony Tan and Kyle Farewell, say they created the app from their own experience doing VR dating. According to the founders, virtual reality helped them come out of their shells, survive the COVID quarantines, meet good friends and even find some real love. Farewell met a real love interest in the social VR app VRChat and they have now moved in together.
Flirtual is a relaunch of another VR dating service started by Farwell in 2018 that was dubbed Virtual Reality Looking-for-Partner (VRFLP). He brought Tan on board as the CEO and the duo started work on Flirtual, a modern version of the virtual dating app. Flirtual even allows you to search for new virtual reality friends instead of simply going for romantic connections.