Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#16 Post by Obscura » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:26 am

Wolf wrote: -Are a mix. of different genres like strategy and / or rpg where there is so much of these genres that the novel part takes up way below 50% of the game and I'm
hard stressed to see those games as visual novels (instinctually I would just call them strategy or rpg titles with a few options during cut scenes).
I personally wouldn't call that a visual novel. (And I doubt the developers would want to either, if they want to attract a larger audience.)

I was always a fan of the term "interactive fiction". Unfortunately it's only used for text-based games. :-/
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#17 Post by Ryue » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:53 am

Obscura wrote:
Wolf wrote: -Are a mix. of different genres like strategy and / or rpg where there is so much of these genres that the novel part takes up way below 50% of the game and I'm
hard stressed to see those games as visual novels (instinctually I would just call them strategy or rpg titles with a few options during cut scenes).
I personally wouldn't call that a visual novel. (And I doubt the developers would want to either, if they want to attract a larger audience.)

I was always a fan of the term "interactive fiction". Unfortunately it's only used for text-based games. :-/
Problem is they are still called visual novels even on database lists of visual novels (there are a few sites out there that list all visual novels by who created them,... and also on wikipedia they are called as visual novels)

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#18 Post by SundownKid » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:09 am

I think that "visual novel" should be the general term for them, and overall they don't need a new classification because the vast majority of English visual novels are no different than the Japanese ones. For the ones that ARE different, they are free to call themselves something else if they want, like "interactive story" or something.

I doubt anyone who doesn't read Japanese will know what an OELVN is, so that term should probably be trashed in favor of simply "visual novel".

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#19 Post by Blane Doyle » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:21 am

I am not going to weigh in very much here, mostly because I think it is one of those subject everyone will have different opinions on that will vary all over the board. Personally I prefer EVN and the term visual novel works for me because... I can't think of any way else to describe most VNs. Especially ones without gameplay besides choices. People use the term to describe translated games and they are the only other things like what most here make because that is what we make. I usually describe them as "choose your own adventure games" to people who have never played them and that seems to work with most people since they remember the books. (Though when it come to kinetic novels I just say "interactive novel with audio and visuals".)

The term, genre, everything is sort of... semi-cemented. So it is a bit weird for me to weigh in here.

Though apparently VNs are NOT called that in Japan either sometimes or most of the time. They're just adventure games. (Don't quote me, this is what I see elsewhere in Japanese VN centric places. I am not Japanse, I don't live in Japan, I am not going to pretend I am an expert on this subject.)

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#20 Post by Taleweaver » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:21 am

Guys, I don't think anyone outside this forum even uses the OELVN abbreviation. To most, "EVN" would be appropriate, to differentiate from JVNs. The term seems to describe translated JVNs as well, only that it doesn't - a translated JVN doesn't magically become an EVN.

I really think this isn't much of a terminology problem. If anything, we can always describe our works as an adventure sub-genre. People WILL understand.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#21 Post by papillon » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:27 am

Guys, I don't think anyone outside this forum even uses the OELVN abbreviation.
Quite the contrary, it's outside this forum where I see it the most.

As I said in the other thread, I and many other people are not the ones perpetuating 'OELVN', that comes mostly from fans of Japanese gaming so that they can distinguish our works from the 'pure' Japanese works.

That said, 'visual novel' is a perfectly good term to me. Using another term would not suddenly make more people have heard of us... it would mean *fewer* people having any idea what you're talking about. While it needs more explanation to someone who's never heard of it before, it gets key features across right away. It sounds a bit like graphic novel, thus conjuring up "a lot of plot with words and pictures" for anyone who knows comic books, which isn't THAT far off from where we're going with it. :)

Adventure game fans will be ticked if you try to call VNs with no puzzles adventures.

One reason the text adventure crowd moved over to branding themselves 'interactive fiction' was so that they could encompass games without huge amounts of puzzles and games with some graphics in them. Last I checked none of them would care if you called your VN interactive fiction, because it is... but it wouldn't be very helpful for marketing. It might get people looking for text games to find your game as well and give it a try, but if fans of your game were looking for more like it and found all these pure or almost-pure text games, they'd probably be disappointed.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#22 Post by Carassaurat » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:37 am

What I like about the term Visual Novel is that it both encompasses and serves as a sister to the Kinetic Novel. Once you start calling Visual Novels "Interactive books", for example, Kinetic Novels become "books", and I think you can see how that can lead to confusion.

Secondly, I think calling them games of any sort does them injustice; by me, and I think by a lot of people, games are defined by being obstacles that need to be overcome within certain rules, which isn't the case with most VNs, and certainly not of KNs. Besides, if KNs were games, then storytelling could become an Olympic event.
What's more, it creates expectations that often can't be (and shouldn't be) met; the usual VN is short on 'gameplay' (if it has any at all), because it has a specific story to tell. When I played my first VN, I was under the impression that it was a subgenre of video games and promptly complained that I didn't have enough input in the events of the story myself — nowadays I'm making kinetic novels.

Lastly, a genre with the terrible, terrible acyonym "MMORPGs" manages to hook millions of players, so I'm not sure if the name is really all that important.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#23 Post by Taleweaver » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:49 am

papillon wrote:
Guys, I don't think anyone outside this forum even uses the OELVN abbreviation.
Quite the contrary, it's outside this forum where I see it the most.

Then the places you're checking are different from the places I am checking.
As I said in the other thread, I and many other people are not the ones perpetuating 'OELVN', that comes mostly from fans of Japanese gaming so that they can distinguish our works from the 'pure' Japanese works.
Interesting.
That said, 'visual novel' is a perfectly good term to me. Using another term would not suddenly make more people have heard of us... it would mean *fewer* people having any idea what you're talking about. While it needs more explanation to someone who's never heard of it before, it gets key features across right away. It sounds a bit like graphic novel, thus conjuring up "a lot of plot with words and pictures" for anyone who knows comic books, which isn't THAT far off from where we're going with it. :)

Maybe. Unless some die-hard Alan Moore fans want to chew us out for that.
Adventure game fans will be ticked if you try to call VNs with no puzzles adventures.
They had no trouble calling "Heavy Rain" an adventure game even though it didn't have any puzzles worth speaking of, or L.A. Noire, or even Slender, which is a game of "don't turn around". Why should they have trouble accepting VNs, or "Japanese adventures", as Wiki calls them?
One reason the text adventure crowd moved over to branding themselves 'interactive fiction' was so that they could encompass games without huge amounts of puzzles and games with some graphics in them. Last I checked none of them would care if you called your VN interactive fiction, because it is... but it wouldn't be very helpful for marketing. It might get people looking for text games to find your game as well and give it a try, but if fans of your game were looking for more like it and found all these pure or almost-pure text games, they'd probably be disappointed.
Which is why we're not making IFs. (Though I once created two super-short IFs to advertise a VN that never happened...)
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#24 Post by Blane Doyle » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:00 am

Carassaurat wrote:Besides, if KNs were games, then storytelling could become an Olympic event.
Storytelling should be an Olympic event. it is practically rhythmic gymnastics for your mind. I would watch that event.

(I'm only being half sarcastic, honestly. Storytelling is like exercise and fitness for your mind to me.)

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#25 Post by papillon » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:24 am

Taleweaver wrote: They had no trouble calling "Heavy Rain" an adventure game even though it didn't have any puzzles worth speaking of, or L.A. Noire, or even Slender, which is a game of "don't turn around".
Which "they" are we talking about here?

LA Noire has puzzles. Quite a lot of them. However, it has so many other elements that it does not get classified as an "adventure game" by fans or even by the mainstream reports I can see - it's a hybrid.

Heavy Rain raises more controversy about what it is, but it still isn't classed as a real adventure game... I see it filed under "interactive movie" and "action adventure", I see adventure game fan reviews that start off by warning that this is very much not a 'proper' adventure game and other sites refusing to cover it at all.

I'm sure somebody somewhere classes these games as adventures, but you really can't say that there's no trouble calling them that. :)

(I haven't looked for info on Slender yet because I don't know what it is (edit: Wikipedia says it's a first-person survival horror game?))


Or do you just mean that people at the adventure games con are happy to talk about those games because they're obviously relevant and related, like VNs are?

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#26 Post by jack_norton » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:30 am

Visual novels is fine I think. It's a niche market but is much more known than just 2-3 years ago! I get lots of comments on Greenlight "another VN?" or "VN sucks!" or "VN aren't a good fit for Steam". Clearly the masses now know what a VN is :mrgreen:

(I know that in my own website I made a category with VN and called it "Adventure Games" but that was 3-4 years ago. I should redesign my site and change it anyway).
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#27 Post by PyTom » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:46 am

This is an interesting conversation to have.

My own opinion is that what we make should be called Visual Novels. That's a term that's getting some currency in English, is broad enough to cover a large body of work, and I don't think that we should abandon it without reason. We also need to be very careful - terms like interactive fiction and adventure game are taken in the US. I do like the term "digital storytelling", which is current in academia, but I covers a broad range of idea of which VNs are just one - I don't think we should adopt it to replace VNs, but I do think that most VNs are digital stories.

The term Ren'Ai game seems to be obsolete in English usage, only persisting in the renai.us domain name.

I've been using the term Creator to refer to people who make VNs for a while now. I think it's a better term to use than game-maker, as it avoids the debate over if visual novels (and especially kinetic novels) are really games or not. It also avoids the "maker" term, which seems to now be very associated with people who make physical things, like the Maker Faire crowd - which is fine, but not what we do.

I don't like the OELVN term. I like the EVN term a little better, but even that seems to overemphasize a single language - and it's kind of inaccurate, as we have people who are creating games in other languages who are valued members of our community. That being said, I think people outside our community will be using the OELVN term for a long time - at least until we routinely make commercial releases with dozen-hour playtimes and hundreds of CGS, there will be a need to distinguish the communities.

I am considering renaming "Planet EVN" to "Planet Visual Novel Creators" or something like that, to better reflect my preferred usage. (But then we'd need a new logo.)
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#28 Post by Deji » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:11 am

PyTom wrote: I don't like the OELVN term. I like the EVN term a little better, but even that seems to overemphasize a single language - and it's kind of inaccurate, as we have people who are creating games in other languages who are valued members of our community.
^This. As a Spanish-speaking person that speaks English, I think using EVN as an acronym for English Visual Novels as a blanket term leaves people working in other languages out or forced to do things in English and/or accept English as the 'official' language for Weestern VNs to be acknowledged.
If anything, I think WVN - Western Visual Novel would be better, though it doesn't really look/sound very good >>;

As for the term 'Creator', I like 'Developer' better (:
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#29 Post by gekiganwing » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:12 am

If you ask me, the terms used to describe creative works should be first and foremost easy to understand. I also don't think terminology should be too specific or too vague.

"Visual novel" seems to imply that a person will be reading a story (rather than playing a game that focuses on action and strategy), and that there will be some pictures. Just going by this information, the format doesn't seem all that different from comics. And when you think about it, it's also surprisingly similar to gamebooks (which can include illustrations). To add more confusion, there are a few VNs such as The World to Reverse and Digital: A Love Story which don't contain any illustrations.

The term "interactive comics" is currently used to describe series such as Ruby Quest and MS Paint Adventures. "Illustrated fiction" is too vague, and can be used to describe quite a few books. I'm not sure if I want to use terms such as "digital gamebook" or "e-gamebook." I'll have to think about it before I start throwing around slang or acronyms (DGB? EGB?). It sounds a little too similar to Nintendo's line of Gameboy products, acronyms and all.

That said, going along with what others said, the term "dating simulation" gets misused a lot. It may have been appropriate back in the 90s when journalists still talked about untranslated import games, and there were a lot of products clearly inspired by the Tokimeki Memorial series. But since then, I've seen a few too many instances of people using it to describe stories with no simulation gameplay, and games in which none of the characters are dating each other. And of course it excludes games/stories that aren't focused on relationships. J-List used to misuse the term all the time, and it still shows up in their ads every now and then.

I occasionally use the term "western visual novel" (WVN), and I'm okay with the term "English visual novel" (EVN), because it's distinct from translated or untranslated software. However, I stopped using "OEL..." to describe anything a while ago. Why? A few reasons...

1. Because even the Wikipedia article about this category of comics is critical of the term.
2. Saying "original English language..." sounds overly specific, and I don't know if it's gramatically correct.
3. It implies that creative works are more like imitations rather than their own thing. Imitation is not necessarily bad, and I know that it's impossible to be completely original, but...
4. I don't know if any of the people who were creating comics labeled as OEL manga actually embrace that term, or if they are using straightforward terms such as (web)comics or cartoons. It seems more like an industry-imposed term, and an attempt to market a product.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#30 Post by 9-of-Hearts » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:36 pm

You know, I'm really liking the all-language-encompassing "visual novel" as a term now that I've been introduced to this world, and like Carassaurat mentioned it goes hand-in-hand with "Kinetic novel."
I'll agree, most people have no idea about visual novels--I usually just call it them "games" around them. Sometimes I attempt to explain though. Then again, those people I might talk to are not familiar with most games beyond FPS, Pokemon, and/or survival/horror games anyway. I feel like we should keep using "visual novel" and "VN" even so, because it will keep those who already know what they're called in the loop.

Of course, when I first started learning about these games I was looking for games like Harvest Moon relationship-wise. I remember google-searching the terms "dating sim" and eventually "otome" and at some point I found sake-bento's Re: Alistair++, probably off a VN-database site. Since then I've been addicted to visual novels. And recently I showed a friend the That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles demo and Pandora's Box and she liked both, and fell in love with the latter. I don't know how much she'll continue with VNs, but it was a positive start on my end. I actually do see some huge otome followings, too, but mainly for mainstream Japanese-origin games (which I adore because the art <3).
When I started seeing "OELVN" that acronym confused the heck out of me. I couldn't understand it, but then when I looked it up it seemed like a useless, excess term--I never plan on using it to describe my game or anyone else's.

There has to be another way to market the genre to get more interested in it, but I don't really think renaming--at this stage--is it.
Er, I'll shut up now because unhelpful

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