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

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

#1 Post by Obscura » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:47 am

Moving the discussion going on in different thread to here:
Obscura wrote:On a related note, I always wondered why OELVN's are stuck with such a dreadful moniker. I feel like the name in and of itself stifles the growth of the entire genre. Visual Novel sounds bad enough to me...OELVN sounds even worse. Is there a reason why EVN isn't the accepted phrase?
LateWhiteRabbit wrote:We've had that discussion on these forums before. It really is a a dreadful name. I'm pretty sure it evolved just like this:

"Oh, visual novels are from Japan, but now some are being translated into English. I want to search for or talk about those, so I'll call them English Language Visual Novels. Oh, but look, now somebody has made a visual novel that wasn't Japanese, and was written in English to begin with! I can't get it confused with the PURE visual novels that have just been TRANSLATED into English, so I'll call it an Original English Language Visual Novel! Oh, crap. That's way too long. Acronym time! OELVN!"

Everyone else ever: "What the hell is OELVN?"

And yeah, "visual novel" sounds about as exiting as left-overs.

tagged as: pet peeves and other things that bother me
nyaatrap wrote:I remember one Japanese media introduced ren'py as "Interactive e-book" recently. I first thought why it's not VN, but think it later, It makes sense. And I found more possibility to expand the market from this naming.
TrickWithAKnife wrote:Perhaps I'm wrong about it, but I get the impression that this community has a pretty strong presence in the VN field. Admittedly, this field is in the early stages, but it is growing.

Might I suggest that we, as a community, start to define the terminology that is used?

The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to make changes, and perhaps it's in our best interests to label what we make in a more appealing way.
I think we all know of the negative images that often come with the existing labels.
Please discuss this, LSF. I think this is probably one of the most important things that could affect the growth of VNs as a whole.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#2 Post by Taleweaver » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:59 am

No, we shouldn't abandon the term. "Visual Novel" is what our genre is known by. It is a niche genre, and no amount of fancy renaming is going to change that. EVN is an acceptable abbreviation for English-language VNs (for those who don't like OELVN), and that's it.

We're a sub-genre of adventure games, and we're for those adventure gamers who don't mind reading a lot, and for those who like to read and don't dislike adventure games. We should be proud of that.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#3 Post by Cadenza » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:03 am

I don't like the name "interactive e-book" at all. I feel like that detracts from the visual/gaming aspect of it a bit? Like it's just a text-heavy Choose Your Own Adventure. And "e-" makes me think of internet, which many visual novels are hosted on, but you don't need the internet to actually play them once they're downloaded.

I never really minded "visual novel" tbh. I think "dating sim" is a more stigmatised term that we should shake, if anything.

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

#4 Post by Zylinder » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:06 am

Whenever I try to explain VNs to my friends, I describe them as 'Those talking bits in RPGs without the fighting'. I do notice that when fangirls not associated with LSF/VN-making gush over games like Starry Sky/TMGS, they tend to describe it as dating sims. In fact, I can't actually recall a game described as a visual novel out of the community that's actually popular... But then again it's not like I'm hardcore or have been here since the stone ages.

Rebranding visual novels sounds like an okay idea to me. Depending on what their new name will be that is. Interactive e-book is a no. I agree with Cadenza - the first thing that pops to mind when I hear that would be CYOA games. In fact, it hardly sounds like a game at all.

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

#5 Post by Tsuyuri » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:08 am

I honestly like the sound of ‘Interactive E-book’ it sounds like a term that more people would be slightly familiar or interested in than calling it a visual novel or OEVNL.

I think one of the reasons people also dislike calling them visual novels or OEVNL is because well, I’m not certain about other countries but in Belgium here things like anime or manga are lacking in popularity to the point the classic label of ‘otaku’ gets slapped onto it. I can imagine few wanting to go and talk about a visual novel or OEVNL in such a community~

That’s also why something like ‘Interactive E-book’ sounds more ‘friendly’ (personally I feel E-book doesn’t work 100% but that aside) I think someone would find it a lot easier to say ‘Hey I been playing a Interactive E-book’ what in my thoughts would sound a lot better than ‘Did you see that latest visual novel?’

But on terms of naming I’m no-good~

I would come up with something like

Interactive Game Book

What makes no sense I guess~

But I agree with Taleweaver on aspect changing the term would likely change nothing. If we were to think of improving the genre we would need to address other things.

1 make the genre less of a how to call it.... you know something you would avoid talking about as an everyday subject

2 make it more obvious/clear that visual novel doesn't instantly mean eroge (actually most people I know make that mistake)

and likely other things

but I likely am making a total miss swing with my thoughts~

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

#6 Post by nyaatrap » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:16 am

Actually, terms are defined by "one" strong event regardless of what other people's doing.
Though issue we have merit to consider here is not " how to define", it's "how to market". I'd say my game as an "eroge" for my main audience, but would use another term for other people. I'll use different terms for different people.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#7 Post by DaFool » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:23 am

Games. Specifically, Adventure Games. Maybe not necessarily point and click.

As LWR once hinted, The Walking Dead is one of the best VNs ever made. Textboxes and sprites are just anachronistic modes of presentation when bigger budgets allow for full animation. Similarly, the simple clickable menu choice as opposed to a Heavy-Rain-style decision control point.

The only way for this style of narrative to go mainstream is similar to what some iPad games have been doing -- they're barely more than picturebooks and yet they have context-based interactivity and have animations and voice acting.

In my opinion, the only way an audience will click will either be "dating sim" (narrative is about the love interests) or "adventure game" (narrative is about a story, preferably one that involves some inventory management)

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

#8 Post by Blue Lemma » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:41 am

I don't think "visual novel" is a bad term. Heck, it all used to be "dating sims" before that! :p
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#9 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:49 am

It's not unusual for have disagreements over what terms to use for a medium. Graphic Novel is still in contention, though fairly widely used.

I think OELVN is a stupid name, I don't use it at all. It seems ridiculous to nickname something after a language. What does that matter? It doesn't actually effect the make up of the game. I generally use Visual Novel, and EVN and JVN when I want to differentiate between elements common to the east and west. I do understand that there could be some confusion over the term Visual Novel though since it doesn't quite cover what we do. It sounds like someone forgot what a Graphic Novel was called. Interactive Novel is a bit more appropriate since it covers both the novel aspect and the interactive aspect that marks the medium. Though that leaves out the graphic element. Interactive Visual Novel kind of gets a bit long.

There is a bit of a point about thinking about what we call ourselves though because we are gaining reach and we need to make sure that what we identify as makes sense to people who don't know what a visual novel is. Something that could be intuitive.

Generally speaking I use Visual Novels around people who have at least some idea of what they are and will probably continue to do so. I do describe them as just 'games' a lot too, mostly with people in real life who would just look at me blankly if I said Visual Novel. As far as they are concerned, I do art for indie games :B

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

#10 Post by v3-kei » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:57 am

As a non-USA person, I am actually more familiar with Visual Novel term than dating sims. I agree with Taleweaver that it IS a niche. It's originated from Japan and is one of Japan's pop cultural product. You don't call Japanese manga a comic book anymore, that kind of book IS manga.I know it took a while for USA people to differentiate between comic and manga, and I think the difference also applies to how dating sim and Visual Novel are actually different genres by their own rights. (Can anyone help me point out the possible differences? I just feel that they are different, I might be mistaken.)

However it might take into account that our audience and market isn't as big as manga yet. If, to be fair, it ever will be. But more and more people actually know what a doujin means, so I am positive even if the market isn't going to be as big as Naruto fans, for example, there is a loyal fanbase here.

The next strategy should be how we expand the audience. Reaching anime fanbase is one of the easiest: deviantart and tumblr will relate to the pretty artworks or the effort to be that good, fanfiction writers can easily find a home here as they can find an outlet to make their stories more interactive or to even make their stories be drawn, vocaloid producers can make their musics soundtracks for visual novels, and so on.

So... my conclusion is instead of renaming, we can define or redefine what Visual Novel is and stick with it, starting he trend from this community.

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

#11 Post by Blue Lemma » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:03 am

Auro-Cyanide wrote:I do describe them as just 'games' a lot too, mostly with people in real life who would just look at me blankly if I said Visual Novel.
Same here. That's what they are in the end, anyway. Or sometimes I say "story-based games" or "games with a focus on story and characters."
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#12 Post by Obscura » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:05 am

Haha. I don't have to tell you guys what I think of the awful term dating sims. I preferred using that term vs using visual novel for my entire campaign. Even though I'm not even sure if it's a legitimate dating sim in the first place, since it lacks a lot of stat management. :lol:

But seriously. If you're not into anime/Japanese gaming, I think you're generally never going to run into the term "visual novel" except by some strange twist of fate. And I know there are people out there who'd want to play one. But I don't think they know this entire genre exists. It's kind of astonishing within the whole range of people I know, not ONE single person has ever heard of "visual novel" when I've spoken to them about it, and these are people in their 20s and 30s. (Not sure about teens.) It's not that they dislike VNs. It's that they honestly have no clue VNs exist, and this is even among adventure gamers.
It is a niche genre, and no amount of fancy renaming is going to change that.
I disagree. I think a name can make quite a huge difference in whether people will try something out and like it. Adventure games are niche. I think being a strangely named niche genre within a niche is a pretty difficult thing to surmount.

I guess adventure game is an acceptable substitute though. VNs are similar to a lot of the adventure games I played growing up.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#13 Post by Tsuyuri » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:07 am

When they ask me what a visual novel is I tend to say

'It's a story-based game with pictures and sounds~'

because when I try to explain further they won't remember it anyway~

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

#14 Post by Ryue » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:16 am

I think we also have "another" problem at our hands....as the name visual novel (or any other name for it) will be VERY VERY far stretched.
If you look at what games are currently all called VNs it is almost as if all but pure MMO RPGs or pure strategy games (with minimal story) are called visual novels.
It has almost become a type of synonym for all types of computer games.

Quite a few of the so called visual novels nowadays either:
-Forgo almost all story and just represent character options,...
-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).

If another name should be used or the same still....it should at least be clarified WHAT a visual novel really is....because like I indicated above nowadays
even games that have as much story in between combats as the wingcommander series are called visual novels.
And personally I get the feeling that THAT shouldn't be called a visual novel.

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

#15 Post by nyaatrap » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:18 am

Actually, I've got surprised by the term of "interactive e-book". It doesn't describe Ren'py fairly, but I've beaten this saying with my narrowness of thinking. There's possibility and just one name opened it.
No need fancy naming. Just a help of inspiration. And what I realized is... stick with terms just kill your inspiration.

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