Casual Friday: Dating Sims and Eroge

Happy 2021 to all my followers and welcome back to the verse. It’s Friday, meaning it’s time for me to pull out the Hawaiian shirt and just gab with you about something that I’m into at the moment. On this entry of Casual Friday, I would like to take a walk on the wild side of otaku culture and discuss two of the staple genres explored by our kind, the eroge and the dating sim. Before we get started, I want to take a moment to thank my close, personal friend and self-admitted Holo stan BrandonColonel for the conversation that inspired this article. Be sure to check out his Youtube channel for a few knife reviews after reading this, now let’s go.
Note: Sorry for the lateness of tis post. This week is CHAOTIC to say the least.

What is an Eroge/ Dating Sim
The term eroge comes from the Japanese prefix ero meaning pervy, or more accurately pervert, and ge meaning game. Therefore, these pervert games are often seen as adult themed relationship simulators that include the naughty bits. This serves as a sub genre of dating simulators where you navigate the intricacies of a budding relationship. While dating sims might be eroge or include content of a sexual nature, not all dating sims are designed for the NC-17 or R rated crowd. Still, both types can be seen as influential in otaku culture and have gained some measure of popularity in the West. Surprisingly, some have even gained enough clout among their fan-bases to receive the anime treatment further cementing them as staples in both communities.
Why are They Popular
The key to the popularity of dating sims in their homeland of Japan comes from a great many factors.Among these, there’s a general sense of interpersonal disconnection among the people of Japan. Many teens and adults are discouraged from involving themselves in personal relationships in early adulthood in favor of pursuing a higher standing in the working world. This lack of social connection creates a social disconnect that is easily satisfied by a digital relationship. As such, many of these games include a harem of stereotypical men and women to pursue a relationship with. Through the lens of the digital relationship, they make small talk, tend to the betterment of a relationship, and go out on dates and scenarios that mirror common interactions with lawns of interest.
When the advent of the digital significant other, Betty citizens both in Japan and in the West seek out these games to enjoy a simulation of social graces as well as the combat loneliness. That being said, many people simply enjoy the abundance of situations presented in these games . In the strategic effect of each choice on a given individual. With these things in mind, it is interesting to see how the use of dating simulators and the like test our social acumen. After all, anyone who’s ever played one can say that, despite the awkwardness of socializing in digital space, those possessing a great social skill or charisma make some of the best players.
The stereotype and subsequent stigma that one who plays dating sends socially awkward and therefore incapable of finding a real-world date are outdated and untrue. After all, some psychiatric studies have actually seen their effective use in combating social anxiety. Begin giving choices in each encounter allows the anxious person to set aside their anxiety in order to play the role of the main protagonist. Apparently, in some respects, this is led to great success in the treatment of social awkwardness.
That being said, the sim allows the user to enjoy a certain distance from social situations thus allowing one to focus on the social strategy aspect of the affair. While the depth of these interactions are sometimes questionable, many people report playing to be useful for dealing with loneliness especially in these times. While they can’t completely replace social interaction as a whole, they can give you the experience of having a socializing without breaking social distance. Now I’m done sounding like a lonely weeb, it is important to recognize that the dating simulator serves to imitate a very stressful and under-recognized aspect of the human experience.some sims take advantage of normal social mechanics and linear progression to create a convincing simulation of a successful encounter thus creating a love story that is both relevant and relatable to the user. Moreover, many dating games include a diverse cast of many significant others with many different goals, wants, and proclivities. Each creates a unique, varied, and interesting dynamic between themselves and the main character mirroring the diversity one life.
Where the common dating sim offers these features and more, eroge replicates the more adult oriented outcome of dating in general. These often include high quality pornographic scenes which are often earned through mini games. Regardless of their perverse nature, this serves as a cathartic point of release from any who enjoy such things. Serves the purpose of rewarding the player for a game well played. This grants the player a satisfying and mature end to a storyline. Some games even remove the dating interaction elements to focus on the adult activity.
Most of the things that make the dating sim and eroge genres popular at home apply in the west as well. However, it seems the latter are more appetizing to certain audiences. Even so, both genres are gaining quite a niche in the US gaming market particularly on PC or mobile phones. The prevalence of play-throughs from Youtube personalities like Jacksepticeye and Markiplier have even given a few game in both genres a fair amount of public attention. But I suppose that can be saved for the next section.

Some Examples
With the previously stated popularity of both genres established, its time to give those who might not know much about about dating sims and their mature cousins to see some examples. These will include synopses of the game’s story and where to buy it legally if possible.

Dating Sims

Doki Doki Literature Club
Developer: Team Silvado
Availability: Steam
Price: Free
Synopsis: The main character is forced to join their high-school’s literature club by their best friend. Through a series of gameplay section he dates each girl in the club with each route coming to a dark and twisted end.
Phoenix Says: “This game is terrifying in the most unsettling way possible. I like how it is a horror spin on a mediocre dating sim. It can be fun until you get to each girl’s death scene. It’s not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Always remember the dating sim elements are here just to give a backdrop to the scares.”

Hatful Boyfriend
Developer: Mediatonic, Hato Moa, The Irregular Corporation
Availability: Steam
Price: $0.99 USD ($4.99 normally)
Synopsis: You play as a student at a high-school the exlusively services pigeons. You must navigate the comical path of love as you woo one of these beautiful birds.
Phoenix Says: “I played this with a few friends for a laugh only to find it oddly satisfying. Something about how the comedic setting is played completely straight was enjoyable. But it was still weird.”


Developer: Hunipot
Availability: Steam
Price: $2.49 USD ($9.99 normally)
Synopsis: You play a lonely man under the guidance of a succubus . You use gifts and conversation to get to Bejeweled style dates and bedroom scenes. There’s a diverse, if not odd, cast of characters to have your way with. Otherwise, its a smorgasbord of H scenes wrapped in a dating sim.
Phoenix Says: “Sadly, I’ve never played it, but I have watched Mark’s playthrough. It looks fun, but the Bejeweled style mini-games seem a bit overdone.”

Fate/ Stay night (Unpatched)
Developer: Type-Moon
Availability: Jlist
Price: Unknown
Synopsis: Here’s the most famous eroge of them all. You play as Shiro Emiya, an orphan turned Master in the Holy Grail War. The game has three routes that focus on the three main heroines in a visual novel style game. Pre-patch you can play through H scene stills where Shiro makes the love with the lady of your choice.
Phoenix Says: “Okay, it’s no big secret that I love the Fate series, but I only found out about the visual novel after my introduction to the Studio Dean anime. That being said, I played the patched English version and it was surprisingly good. I don’t see where the addition of H scenes would make it much better.”

Final Thoughts
Dating games, be they sim or eroge, can be extremely divisive but are nonetheless a growing part of gaming culture. While I feel the stereotypical description of the nerd playing for experience is a bit degrading your opinions are your own. As always, feel free to form your own opinion. I hope you enjoyed this look at the various dating games and their graphic subgenres. In closing, I want to leave you with one last message. No matter your relationship status, I hope all my readers have a happy Valentines Day.

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