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Dating can sometimes feel like a game. Between profiles stating “I’m not into games” to the “Keep Playing” button from Tinder’s earlier versions and books that instruct singles how to play The Game by The Rules, you’d think our love lives were rendered in 32-bit.

Thankfully, you can take a break from the frustrations of the dating game and play actual games about . . . dating. We’ve come a long way from Dream Phone and furtive sessions of Leisure Suit Larry on Tandy demo computers at the local Radio Shack. Several popular videogames right now are dating simulators — or dating sims — that aim to boost players’ confidence and social skills.

This summer’s No. 1 indie game smash hit is Dream Daddy, a funny and charming dating simulator in which you are a single father seeking love and friendship within a community of handsome — and refreshingly diverse — single daddies.

“Dating sims are a great way to explore relationships in a safe, fictional space and they can also help you feel less lonely,” says Leighton Gray, the 20-year-old co-creator of Dream Daddy, which has been downloaded 180,000 times since its launch last month.

This kind of virtual social exploration is especially beneficial for those who lack real-life dating skills and experiences.

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AuthorSofi Papamarko