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Would You Go on a Virtual Date?

You’ve probably heard of Second Life. It is a software program created in 2003 that allows users to build avatars and explore a virtual world. Users through their avatars can socialize with others, participate in individual or group activities, buy and trade property, travel throughout the world. Users buy clothing, objects, and gestures. There are 18 million registered users on Second Life.

A new company called Weopia has taken this concept and applied it to dating. Their site claims to allow you to “get a better sense of the person”, “work faster than online dating alone” and “to make real life dates twice as successful”.

The concept works like this: you meet someone on an online dating service. In email or on the phone you suggest that you go on a virtual date. One of you joins Weopia and pays $5. This person sends an anonymous email invite to the other person. You both build an avatar for the date. Then you can participate in one of several activities – fly a hovercraft, go boating, hang gliding.  Or you can sit and “talk” via IM.

The service promises unparalleled privacy and safety controls.

So, is this creepy? A very useful tool? An odd fad? The brave new world?

Would you use such a service?