A Perfect Match

Here’s hard proof that science and emotion do in fact fit together. In a novel dating event, a group of singles first meet as avatars in a virtual world – where they battle side by side against monsters. That really makes them hit it off. The system was developed by a Communications Design student at the FH Aachen.

Let’s start at the beginning. Speaking to someone who is a perfect stranger, but who you think is kind of cute, is often not that easy. And if you do pluck up the courage to ask them out – will that first date be a success? FH Aachen student Jonas Middelkoop has figured out a way to overcome this hurdle: a unique blind dating concept in which you get to know each other in a virtual reality (VR) environment. The goal: to develop real feelings for each other in virtual worlds.

Joining forces against the monsters

And it goes like this: Five men and five women aged between 20 and 30 “meet” in Aachen’s Holocafé – without having seen each other before, of course – to play together in a multiplayer game. They have each created their own avatar, i.e. a virtual person, and are ready to engage in battle against monsters in teams of two. They can communicate with each other via headsets. The concept really appealed to the participants because – unlike in classic blind dates – you get an honest impression of “where the other person is really at and not how they would like to present themselves,” as one participant put it, and continued, “You very quickly find out if you’re on the same wavelength, also because you’re not distracted by their real appearance.” At the end of the game, they were all asked to evaluate each other in terms of likeability… And, lo and behold, there was a perfect match! Two participants rated each other as the most likeable – and so there was nothing left standing in the way of a date in real life.

22-year-old Middelkoop is thrilled by this first success achieved through his concept, which he will now develop further, for example at get-to-know-each-other events for newcomers to Aachen.