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BadCupid is a video game launched by Kitfox Games that invites players to watch and bet on the flirting abilities of AI characters. With AI’s scope for emotions and intimacy largely untrammelled, BadCupid lets users observe AI love without having a personal stake in the interaction. We explore the insights behind how the game is helping people explore AI’s capacity for emotion – from a distance.

Like many dating simulations, Kitfox Games’ BadCupidinvolves pixelated avatars finding love. But unlike a traditional video game, BadCupid's players don't have a hand in the characters’ fates, and instead sit back and watch digital romances – populated with algorithm-driven characters – unfold. Players watch flirting between characters with AI personalities, placing bets on whether or not certain AIs are fated to find love. “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,” says Tanya X. Short, director and designer at Kitfox. “I'd be very on board for an AI flirting revolution.”

BadCupid lets people explore AI's emotional capacity BadCupid lets people explore AI's emotional capacity
Gatebox (2017) ©

Interest in the intersection of artificial intelligence and intimacy is rising, as films like Her and Ex Machina suggest. With the integration of humanised AI into everyday life, people are seeking to experiment with affection in AI, whether through technology intentionally designed to be an AI companion, like Hikari, or through shamelessly flirting with their voice assistants. BadCupid's allows people to explore AI's engagement with romance, but at the safe distance of a spectator, rather than a participant.


Mira Kopolovic is a behavioural analyst at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. She has a Master’s degree in creative industries, which focused on artist-brand collaborations, and spends her spare time poring over dystopian literature.


07 Dec 18
2 min read

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