Perhaps our constant need to intertwine dating and gaming is what inspired the brand new dating app called Bracket.

With Bracket, you make your typical “all about me” profile, then you’re matched with 16 other app users every day from the preferences you list on your profile. From there, you get to narrow down your bracket with a head-to-head dating tournament throughout the day. By the end, you’re left with just one person, your chosen winner, with whom you get to finally chat. According to the company, Bracket is meant “to get users off all dating apps (yes, including Bracket) and on a date with a meaningful, winning match.” But while Bracket may be the first to market itself as a dating game app, it’s surely not the first way dating apps have used the old-fashioned dating-gaming combo to entice its users.

All apps amplify the gamification of dating. They’re all like a cat-and-mouse game, adding a whole new element of excitement and fun. The swipes are virtually endless. But if all we talk about is how pointless the dating game is in real life, why would you subject yourself to it on an app?

Dating isn’t supposed to be an addiction. And yet, people spend their lonely time, or even time surrounded by friends, swiping left or right on Tinder, filling out personality quizzes, checking out suggestive “flavors” of potential matches, including Kinky Nerds, Beard Lovers and World Travelers on OKCupid, anxiously awaiting their daily “bagel” in the Coffee Meets Bagel app, and answering “would you rather” and “never have I ever” questions.

The addiction is surely the instant gratification, while the fundamental game is, beneath all the little games that make up each app, the ability to expand how many fish are in your sea. But that sea can be as large or small as you want, and you’ll still find yourself playing the same game: hiding behind a device where you can say whatever you want, and judge whoever you want, without any consequences.

There are, indeed, so many people who can be thankful for today’s apps, as they met the love of their lives on one of them. But apps are perhaps now more than ever becoming mere marketing ploys. Dating is not supposed to be a game. It’s exhausting to be anything other than exactly who you are. In the real world, when you do it, it’s because society has conditioned you to believe that’s how love works. Dating apps take that false belief and make a whole lot of money off of it.

The point is flirting with someone isn’t supposed to be sending someone a “charm” (which you must purchase on Happn). It’s supposed to be simple, it’s supposed to require guts.

Photo: iStock/jacoblund