When he got to this country from his native Czech Republic, David Semerad signed up at various online dating sites but didn’t like them.
“I tried several online dating sites myself and found them too stressful,” he says. “There is a long signup process. At Match.com you have to answer 60 questions. Most people lie anyway.”
So he decided to build a dating app “for people who hate online dating.”
In the process he turned dating into a game, which is called, simply, the Game.
“Every day we introduce you to three people,” he explains. “You choose one. We serve up random icebreaker questions, like, ‘Is life easier for a man or a woman?’
“We guarantee a response from people the way game is set up. If you stop answering, you are eliminated from the game. You gain points from interacting. You can give people compliments or gifts. Then to see what you have been given you have to give something back.”
People sign up for the Game with Facebook Connect, thereby verifying their identities. This is not a dating game for anonymous players.
“The trouble with anonymous profiles is most people lie,” says Semerad. “People behave differently on anonymous sites than what we want to promote. We do block your Facebook friends, however, so none of them will know you are on a dating site. It is private in that sense.”
Semerad, whose project got some initial funding support from the government in the Czech Republic, has a staff of six and his office is located in SoMa.
He says his motivation is to radically improve the online dating experience, so it conforms more to real-life experiences.
“Treating people like an item on a shelf in a supermarket is not right. Why all of those questions? Besides, if you are a smoker and someone says they don't like smoking, you will never meet.
“In real life it's more complicated. That is something you might get over. Chemistry between people is much more complicated than a mathematical algorithm can determine.”