Dating websites get inventive with games, apps

Tue May 22, 2012 1:01pm EDT
 
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By Gianna Palmer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly two decades since the start of online dating, the match-making sites that launched millions of relationships are spicing things up with online games and going high tech and offline to produce more happy ever afters.

Games, apps and offline events are beginning to replace the ritual exchange of online messages, the basic tenet of online dating, and to blur the distinction between on-and-offline dating.

Match.com, which boasts more than 1.7 million paid subscribers, has taken cues from the $74 billion global video gaming industry by creating short dual-player games to help people express themselves better online.

A game called Food Critic prompts members to answer food-related questions, while Romance Rip-Off is designed for two players to create a love story together. During the game players can instant message each other to discuss their answers, which Match.com believes promotes a more natural way of interacting.

"I don't think there's anything that's quite like this," said Mandy Ginsberg, the president of Match.com, which started in 1995.

Online dating has come a long way in the past 20 years. More than 40 percent of online daters, nearly 7 million adults, have dated people they met online, and 17 percent of them entered a long-term relationship or married their online partner, according to 2006 report by the Pew Research Center.

Brian Schechter, co-founder and co-CEO of HowABoutWe, said his company has been going offline to play Cupid since it started in 2010.

"We were the originators of the offline dating ethos."   Continued...

 
A couple kisses during a flashmob organised by a local television station on the eve of Valentine's Day in the southern Russian city of Stavropol February 13, 2012. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko