Cloud Girlfriend Open To All: Hard Lessons For Dating Sims

Summary:First proposed as a free social media dating simulator, Cloud Girlfriend offers a faux “girlfriend experience” while Violet Blue wonders why they didn't take their dating sim lessons from Japan.

First proposed as a free social media dating simulator, Cloud Girlfriend still offers a faux “girlfriend experience” but leaves us wondering why we’d need to meet yet another fake profile - and why Cloud Girlfriend didn't take their dating sim lessons from Japan.

Cloud Girlfriend’s email today announced “Cloud Girlfriend Open To All” and I have to wonder if they checked the double-entendre before it went out the door.

What I'm trying to say is, that's okay if they meant it that way.

Then again, with what happened on Amazon Music today when Lady Gaga’s $0.99 album download crashed the cloud – I’m sure the Cloud Girlfriend crew has heard plenty of jokes about what to do when the cloud goes down.

I don’t know how many people were eagerly awaiting the service coming out of closed beta. Cloud Girlfriend’s original proposition was that it would create a “perfect girlfriend” for users.

According to founder David Fuhriman, the service would “help guys get a girlfriend” because on Facebook it would make guys basically look like they have buy-in (they being lent credibility from the fake cloud chicks).

“Always Free – Unlike Your Last Date!”

Breaking up, they tell us, is just “one click.” Definitely ideal if you’ve ever had to take the time out to key in one of those annoying text message break-ups.

Cloud Girlfriend began as a site that featured cloud-generated, automated “girlfriends” that would be your companion on social media sites - but massive changes to their model now seems to have the "virtual" girlfriends (and boyfriends) operated by users.

I was truly hoping for a new spin on virtual girlfriend dating sims, but offer ones with social media interaction capabilities. Currently, all versions of virtual girlfriends are trapped within their own worlds.

For instance, popular Japanese virtual girlfriend Love Plus + dating sim is in a handheld gaming console.

This console is about to get an upgrade via the console’s camera, allowing the virtual girlfriend to meet, chat with, and “remember” new people that you introduce her to. The stated point of the Love Plus + girlfriend is to get her to fall in love with you through companionship.

But she can’t Tweet or connect with you on Facebook.

Sadly, on its launch, Cloud Girlfriend appears to have declined a date with Facebook. Meaning, she’s launched but has no Facebook integration that I can find: perhaps Facebook wasn’t keen on the idea of fake profiles?

Cloud Girlfriend does not offer falling in love - a one-click sayonara is enuf said in that department. But despite sounding like a social media GFE (“girlfriend experience” – term for sex workers that provide social companionship), CG has decidedly stated that it is not a porn or chat site.

Of course I joined the site anyway. Its current proposition is that users join and make “ideal” faux-profiles of themselves, which then virtually date and chat with other people who have made fake “ideal” profiles.

It’s just like real life, but perhaps more honest in its fakery. In that, maybe Cloud Girlfriend is onto something.

To create a profile, you choose from 19 options – male or female.

I was tempted to use this photo:

Except I was curious about who this person is, and dropped her image into TinEye reverse Image Search. I found the original photo, and the real girl, on Flickr. Her name is Margaux, and I’m guessing she had the photographer’s watermark removed so that her face would look slimmer.

I decided to go for something far more realistic anyway:

Even though my profile is almost too true to life, I somehow managed to get a date offer right away. “Dates” are no more than messages back and forth (and it tracks online/offline status).

I’m hoping I score, especially because I really want something for nothing here.

Though I’m a bit confused about how to take things to the next level.

It looks like you can use the private chat and probably be as nasty as you want, but I do see the 'report this conversation' button. At the same time, there don’t seem to be any clear guidelines - I can't find them - as to what's prohibited or not.

I’m now really worried I’ll do something that gets me dumped by my new Cloud Girlfriend. If the site’s only remaining merit is an ego-stroke, it makes reversing that stroke with rejection that much easier.

I wished it could have kept its original proposal: a dating sim that hangs out with you on social media. Ultimately when I give it a second of thought, the whole “free unlike your last date!” tagline is pretty annoying.

It shows a disregard for the dating experience of women, that’s for sure, while stating that men make dating choices on the basis of cost effectiveness. It also takes the agency of being responsible for behavior – the adult responsibility of breakup – and places it in the realm of a multi-step hassle.

Cloud Girlfriend means you can finally act like the douchebag you really are with no consequences – under the guise of being positive for someone’s self-esteem.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a slutty bimbo on the service. But that’s because I’m being honest not only about who will use a service that commodifies cheap and easy connections, but also about how it will be used.

If they’re expecting this site to be anything more than porny chat hookups, they might want to pivot that business model again.

Or just be honest, and give those of us seeking a genuinely superficial, anonymous time, what we really want.

Note: Thank you to Amber Allen's actual Cloud Girlfriend user for letting me impersonate her for the purpose of researching this article.

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Ms. Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com, @violetblue) is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime at Zero Day/ZDNet, CNET and CBS News, as well as a noted sex columnist. She has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is regularly interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of publications that inclu... Full Bio

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