A&B Computing

The Dating Game
By Acornsoft/Ivan Berg

Published in A&B Computing 1.11

It is difficult not to approach this software with a good deal of scepticism and, after spending an evening playing it, I can't honestly say it will change your life or even "help you understand yourself and your relationships", as promised by the accompanying documentation. It does however provide a great deal of entertainment and amusement.

The package comes with a booklet and two cassettes divided into five programs covering different aspects of relationships. Each section consists of a series of questions and multiple-choice answers which the user selects confidentially. The computer stores the answers and produces an analysis at the end. Most of the sections can be played either alone or with a group of people for comparison results.

The sections are (1) The Dating Gae, which allows you to assess your compatibility with a current or prospective partner or, if you're feeling really dating, allows a group of people to answer the questions and let the computer decide who should be with whom; (2) General Compatibility, which is similar to (1) except it assesses the compatibility of people who might spend a lot of time together without being physically involved, e.g. flatmates, business colleagues, etc; (3) Love Style, which tells you what kind of lover you are and displays the results as positions on three different scales under the headings "fanciful versus practical", "serious versus playful" and "cool versus passionate" (4) Preferred Relationship, which reveals the kind of relationship you want and your role in it, again showing the results on a scale in the areas "giving versus taking", "committed versus free", "boss versus slave" and "quiet versus exciting" and finally (5) Dating Skills, which examines your social skills in dating and mating and aims to assess your overall level of sophistication.

Even if you can take all this seriously there are several obvious drawbacks to the package. Once you've played the games and perhaps tried them with a few friends there can be little further use for the software. By their nature the answers the the questions are very limited - a ready made reply must be chosen from a maximum of six, when none of the options may actually reflect the user's true response. If you're considering a prospective lover rather than someone you already know you have to either guess their responses or invite them to play the game themselves which is hardly practical or subtle. The most entertaining part of the game is trying to cheat and see which answers your partner is choosing without them knowing, and it's probably the only way The Dating Game will teach you anything you didn't know already!

Dave Carlos

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