The man prefers to be called by his online moniker SAL9000 – apparently based on the only-too human computer by the same name in the SciFi classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey – rather than revealing his real name or age for fear he’ll be misunderstood or ridiculed.
"I only want Nene (the character) right now, she's better than a human girl," he said, but admitted that he understands Love Plus is just a game, so his virtual wedding is not a legal marriage.
Sal (I thought I’d give him a nickname) “met” the character Nene Anegasaki while playing the Nintendo video dating simulation (DS) game "Love Plus." The gamer is a huge fan of Love Plus, in which players try to woo their digital girlfriends with flowers, lavish dates, etc. The behavior of these in-game girlfriends changes dependent on the way they are treated.
He said he fell in love with Nene after a string of failed romances with girlfriends from other animated games.
Sal started playing "Love Plus" in September. The more you play, the more she demands your attention. So Sal nurtured his relationship, playing every single day, taking Nene with him everywhere out on the town, even on vacation.
Sal said he’s an "otaku," a breed of Japanese youth obsessed with video games, computers and fantasy worlds.
His “wedding” took place at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and was presided over by an actual priest!! The groom, dressed in a white suit and tie, read his vows out loud before Nene flashed her responding vows up on the touch screen of Sal’s red Nintendo.
The event was broadcast live on the Nico Nico Douga website, with the groom's best man (a human) giving a speech and Nene's maid of honor – a game simulation – posting an on-screen message expressing her happiness at the first union of a man and computer character.
The reception included a disco and the entire event attracted thousands of online comments before Sal and his new “wife” jetted off to the Pacific island of Guam for their honeymoon.
In an online message, Sal wrote, "I had heard before that the groom is very busy during a Japanese wedding, but it was much more than I expected. Both the actual wedding space and the live web site were full on the day and I'm so happy that so many people were able to witness this.”
"Now that the ceremony is over, I feel as if I have been able to achieve a major milestone in my life," he wrote. "Some people have expressed doubts about my actions, but at the end of the day this is really just about us as husband and wife.
"As long as the two of us can go on to create a happy household, I'm sure any misgivings about us will be resolved."
The message included photos of Sal shopping in Tokyo with his “bride” in his hand, as well as photos from their honeymoon – including one of Sal playing on the beach watched by his new wife, a tropical flower resting gently on her screen.
"In the Japanese otaku or nerd culture, there's a tradition of calling characters my wife, and I sort of thought of Nene as my wife. Since I was calling her that, I thought we'd just have to get married then," he had told reporters.
"If more people were to find ways of expressing themselves like this, I think it would make society a bit more interesting."
Sal says he doesn't want a real girlfriend, adding Nene's better than a real woman. He says his marriage to Nene is just the next step in video gaming, a new way to integrate, if you will. But sociologists say that blurring between the real and virtual world means less human contact.
Japan's internet world has moved beyond Facebook, Twitter or online game relationships and marriages to avatars. They are now part of the norm in the virtual world.
When asked if Nene is his dream woman, he responded, “Yes, she is. Her character changes to my liking as we talk and travel to different places. I love this character, not a machine.”
Sal says it’s even possible to have a “real” conversation with Nene because her system has voice recognition software. They also play the famous game “rock, paper, scissors.” He concluded that he will love her always.
Many of today's Japanese youth can't express their true feelings in reality, only in the virtual world. It's a trend that shows no sign of slowing down as the entire globe socializes more online and less in-person.
Sociologist, Hiroshi Ashizaki, confirms that most of the gaming world socializes more online through video games that in face-to-face contact so Sal's marriage to a DS is not shocking.
The newlyweds, after returning from their honeymoon, now go on dates around Tokyo, with Sal taking digital pictures of Nene, permanently installed in his Nintendo DS, in front of famous landmarks and then posting them on social networking sites.
Sal also has vowed to have and to hold, for better and for worse, even if another, updated version of the game is released.
"I think I'll probably continue playing Love Plus. I won't cheat," Sal said, adding that there is no end to the relationship because you can continue the game forever.
There may be trouble ahead for the newlyweds, however, as Sal has not informed his parents that he has got married. The couple plans to visit his family over the New Year holidays to announce their betrothal.
And just imagine it folks, the perfectly constructed world of sterile, controlled, utter self-absorbtion, since it's all about HIM!
Nene NEVER: Argues back; eats; feels the sun on her face; has sex; gives birth; weeds a garden; hugs a puppy; gets sick; chooses a career; swings a baseball bat; drives a car; copes with life's ups and downs; matures; feels a kind touch; prays; grows old; dies; or can EVER divorce him and get half the fucker's assets!
I think I feel sorry for Nene.
— The Curator