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As revolutionary as this game is when it comes to dating sims, there are some moments that are not quite as progressive. For example, while you can technically pursue the sole female character of the game, you can't actually romance her.

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I know this because I tried. For 11 days, I put all my efforts into listening to Jaehee Kang complain about her horrible dead-end job, about how a superstar like Zen could never notice someone like her, and her tragic backstory of how she was orphaned at a young age and managed to overcome adversity to put herself through university and get a job. I rooted for her. I stood up for her. I became a pillar in her life who empowered her, and just when I thought she was going to be my girlfriend…I got female friendzoned. And straightsplained.

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That last image on the right is the epilogue to Jaehee's story—we become partners, as in business partners, and open a coffee shop together. The girl to the right is supposed to be me, the supportive friend who will always be just that. And apparently I was not the only one who was frustrated by not being allowed to date Jaehee.

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Interestingly enough, when I started over and pursued Jumin Han his initially ambiguous sexuality was apparently a minor story arc, and the butt of plenty of jokes among the rest of the characters (see the hashtag #DoesJuminHanIsGay on Twitter). Also, if someone knows what color a gay aura is, please let me know. (In South Korea, while it's not illegal to be homosexual, there is no legal recognition of gay marriage or relationships, and LGBT issues continue to be considered taboo.)

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Mystic Messenger made me think about the way I sometimes use Tinder. A good chunk of the time, I wasn’t actively trying to date people—sometimes I would just swipe to see what my "high score" could be and see how hot of a dude I could match with. Even sending messages seemed like an intricate game—as a pretty judgmental person, I can jump to conclusions based on hardly any material (not into that GIF shit).

Mystic Messenger isn’t trying to emulate a dating app specifically, but with this game sims have finally tapped into the grey area of digital dating in a meaningful way. While the characters are depicted in a cartoonish style, the focus is on the nuances of their online interactions. Their images are just another thumbnail, and it’s easier to believe that there’s more of real person behind the profile. The game capitalizes on how we judge each other online just by the way we type. Characters make typos when they’re flustered (and sometimes when they’re not), and the others call them out on it. You can win affection points from a character just by using an emoticon instead of words because that’s what makes you cool and savvy to him. I can't say that I don't at least take into consideration how people use emojis and emoticons :}.

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Of course, the game accurately portrayed some of the downsides to falling in love. My character went to Jumin's apartment to stay with him through a stressful time, and as he fell in love with me, he realized that not only was he a little too obsessed with his cat, but he needed me. For two or three days (about a fourth of the game!), he wouldn't let me leave. I was stuck in his apartment for my own safety alongside Elizabeth 3rd, who was stuck in a cage for her own safety—essentially being held hostage to his paranoia of losing us both. But underlying this mess—and the rest of the ridiculous dating sim drama that Mystic Messenger promises its players—is a commentary on love in the digital age that's more sophisticated than you might expect.