Lonely? Got $175? Sega's robot girlfriend may be just what you need!

A few months ago, I went to a friend's birthday party, where I found myself in a fairly uncomfortable position: I was buttonholed by a gamer. You know how it goes; you're talking to a lot of people, making friends and enjoying the friends that you have when some guy notices that you're polite and engaging. Eager to pair off in the flow of conversation, he corners you and begins to tell you endless details about his life.

As I mentioned, this guy was a gamer, so his monologue went into the games that he plays, how he feels when he wins, how he plays for sixteen hours a day, how he's involved in game development, how many Jolt colas he drinks, how he wears a diaper during Halo tournaments...

Okay, I made that last one up. The scary thing is, the rest are true.

Anyway, as I watched this guy rattle on and nodded at (relatively) appropriate points, I began to wonder how he was planning to reproduce. Spending hours locked away at home eating junk food and drinking caffeinated sodas, it's not like he could easily meet women.

Perhaps the answer will come from Sega, the Japanese game manufacturer, whihch has developed a first-generation robotic girlfriend. Named EMA, short for "Eternal, Maiden Actualization," the doll stands just over fifteen inches high, has a vaguely feminine form, and is painted to look like the unholy love-child of R2D2 and Speed Racer. It walks and talks like a woman, blows kisses, dances, and will even neck with its users when it is in "love mode." While the idea of making out with a little robot seems somewhat freaky to me, I imagine that this is just the first generation in what will undoubtedly be a long series of personal-services robots. In the meantime, EMA's $175 price tag is going to make a lot of lonely young men very happy!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. When he looks at gamers, he sometimes feels a little twinge of fear as he realizes that, there but for the grace of God goes he...

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