Tech by VICE

Bet on Whether Horny Algorithms Fall In Love In ‘BadCupid’

Players bet on whether bizarre characters procedurally flirting fall in love or strike out in the new game.

by Jordan Pearson
Nov 22 2018, 7:23pm

Screengrab: BadCupid

Would Abraham Lincoln fall in love with the goddess Venus, or strike out after a bunch of lame, misfired flirting? What about Venus and a ghost named Gary? If you think you can divine the fate of such bizarre matchups, you should be playing BadCupid, a new game from Montreal-based studio Kitfox Games.

BadCupid is ostensibly a dating sim, a genre of games where players attempt to find romantic success with a slew of non-playable characters. Kitfox turns this paradigm on its head in the weirdest way possible, because in BadCupid human players don’t do anything but watch algorithmically controlled characters flirt in a procedurally generated string of interactions and bet with an in-game currency called “arrows” on their chances of success or failure.

It’s kind of like SaltyBet, a popular platform for live betting fake money on the outcome of virtual fights between scores of bizarre community-created characters, but for flirting. Players can create and submit new characters to be added to BadCupid’s rotation, and Kitfox will continue working on the game after launch on Thursday.

Kitfox refers to the characters in the game as AIs, but only in the sense that they employ some basic algorithms to generate their responses. Like in a fighting game, each character has a pool of possible “moves” to choose from and various stats that determine which moves they’re more likely to take, Kitfox co-founder Tanya X. Short told me in an email.

“The video games industry has mapped out many kinds of gameplay, but AI flirting feels like rich, unexplored wilderness... Here's hoping it becomes a genre,” Short said. “I'd be very on board for an AI flirting revolution.”

BadCupid is live now if you need a spectacularly weird and horny way to distract yourself from the food coma-induced doldrums of Thanksgiving day.

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