With the queer and non-binary inclusive Lovelink, app dating is just a game
I met my wife thirteen years ago, right before the world of dating apps took over. We never had to swipe right on each other, but a majority of my single friends have been navigating love and sex via apps for years. So when the gaming app, or as they call it, "virtual reality romance" Lovelink popped up as a suggestion on Instagram, I thought it might be an interesting piece for QMM. Would this game be inclusive and offer opportunities for same-sex couplings? I admit my expectations were low, but after a couple of days of playing, I was pleasantly surprised. Lovelink was built for everyone to enjoy.
Lovelink - Chapters of Love debuted in the fall of 2020 by studio Ludia Inc, out of Montreal. It's basically a faux dating app using cartoon avatars of a variety of characters from average Joes to possible werewolf women and evil masterminds. Basically, you can go as far into fantasyland as you like. When you begin, you choose an avatar for yourself and your astrological sign. Gender matters not in Lovelink, as you will be given the choice between multiple gender choices including non-binary matches. Swipe right on the people you hope to match with, left on those you don't. As far as I can tell, the algorithm doesn't pick up on preference or possible orientation of the player since I have only swiped right on women, and I still have lots of men show up in my options. My one gripe about the game is it feels lopsided when it comes to options. Women only make up about 30% of options, and characters are referred to as counterparts to each other, meaning there may be two characters who have the same storyline so if you pick one, you rule out the other. I wish I would have known that going in. Basically, your options are more limited than they appear at first blush. However, it's still a lot of fun to play.
Characters you match with don't use gendered language, usually using "they/them" pronouns when referring to an ex or a previous match. Each has their own storyline and you have options on how you want to explore and communicate with each other. Some storylines are pretty standard, like the cute vegan who works at an animal shelter. But you'll also find a tattooed bartender who buys you a plane ticket to meet up with her, only to ghost you for another adventure. Then there's the sweet woman who is, surprise, super pregnant! (She's a surrogate for her best gay friends, and it's actually a really touching storyline.)
The writing is the best part about Lovelink (although the artwork is pretty great too), with funny, witty banter that actually feels natural. Horror stories of exes, rescuing animals, family life, hobbies, taking over the world - it's all there. You can be a flirty dork, or too cool for school. It's up to you.
Your match will send you pictures of themselves throughout your chats, and you have to use gems you collect to open them. Yes, in-app purchases. You didn't think we'd get to have all this fun for free, did ya?! Gems can get spent up pretty quickly so be aware when you start clicking. Extra dialogue options can also cost you gems so keep that in mind.
It's nice to find an RPG app that feels genuinely inclusive, not just like same-sex options were shoved in at the last moment. Hopefully, Lovelink will continue to include more women and non-binary romanceable options as the game grows in popularity.