What's the difference between bishoujo, ren'ai, and dating?

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What's the difference between bishoujo, ren'ai, and dating?

#1 Post by Shii » Mon Sep 05, 2005 12:20 pm

I already know visual novel, kinetic novel, eroge, H game.

Can someone tell me the difference between the following terms:
- Bishoujo game
- Ren'ai game
- Dating simulation

And has anyone ever seen the words "bishoujo" or "ren'ai" used to refer to dating sims by a Japanese person, in English?

Thanks,
Shii

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#2 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Sep 05, 2005 2:01 pm

Easily answered:
- Bishoujo game = game with beautiful girls inside. Technically, Strip Poker is a Bishoujo game as long as it features manga girls ^_^

- Ren'ai game = game about finding love/relationship. Most Ren'ai games are also Bishoujo games but needn't be (see TokiMemo: Girl's Side). Ren'ai games are almost always either dating sims or visual novels.

- Dating sim(ulation) = stat-based game where you build a character not unlike in a role-playing game so that s/he becomes skilled enough to score with the opposite gender.
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#3 Post by Piroshiki » Mon Sep 05, 2005 2:12 pm

-The term bishoujo game is pretty broad; as the name suggests, anything having to do with pretty girls is technically bishoujo. However, it often referes to an adult PC game. Non-adult are often called galge, from "gal game", while adult ones are also caller eroge.

-A ren'ai adventure (ren'ai game is really only used in the english community) is a game that focuses on the romantic aspect of a relationship, ren'ai meaning "romance". A sub-genre of ren'ai is jun'ai, meaning "pure love", but the line is pretty blurred between ren'ai and jun'ai. If anything, I noted that a jun'ai ADV will often have less drama than a ren'ai ADV. But that might just be the games I know, so don't quote me on that. However, it doesn't have anything to do with sexual content, both may or may not have it to various degrees.

-dating simulation is a term that doesn't even exist in japanese, and is generally used by uninformed people to talk about any bishoujo game, wether is had to do with dating or not (because, of course, it's a known fact that all bishoujo games exist for the sole purpose of simulating real dates for loosers who can't get a real social life). If anything, I guess it referes to a game that focuses on dating, such as Tokimeki memorial.

[edit] Woops, Taleweaver beat me to it. Well, I guess you can compare his and my definitions, since I mostly answered from the perspective of the japanese community while he did from the english community...
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#4 Post by PyTom » Mon Sep 05, 2005 7:26 pm

Taleweaver's definitions are similar to my own. It's interesting to note that all three terms seem to be orthagonal. For example, one could have a bishoujo ren'ai dating sim, or something like a bishonen ecchi visual novel, and so on.

I think there is a need for an overarching english term to talk about all anime-style games... I've been playing around with AS games (anime-style games), with the games we make called WAS games (western anime-style games). But I think the connotation of WAS goes both ways... What WAS was he playing?
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#5 Post by Shii » Mon Sep 05, 2005 9:56 pm

It's funny, I thought "bishoujo game" and "gal game" were uninformed terms for "eroge", and "ren'ai game" was simply a misimported word for the proper English "dating sim", but I guess it's a bit more specific than that. I generally just refer to visual novels and eroge. I think visual novel should be the preferred English term, because it applies to a whole medium rather than a genre, and it excludes such silliness as baku blocks.

Alright, so how about this then:
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#6 Post by PyTom » Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:43 am

Random thoughts:

Ero/non-ero is a separate axis from bishoujo/bishonen/shoujo-ai/icky, so neither can be a proper subset of each other. It's quite possible to have an ero-bishonen game. (IIRC, PP will release one or more of these.)

Hm... My own classification, informed by:

http://www.renaigames.net/art_mikey3.html

goes something like this:

First of all, there's the "relationship". Basically, this involves the gender of the pov character, and the gender of the characters he or she can pursue. For this we have:

bishoujo: The pov character is male, the pursued characters are female.
bishonen: The pov character is female, the pursued characters are male.
shoujo-ai, yuri: The pov character is female, the pursued characters are female.
shonen-ai, yaoi: The pov character is male, the pursued characters are male.

The latter two have alternate names that would seem to be used in ero-games. A game can have multiple relationship categories, especially if its name begins with "x-change".

A second category is the age rating... that is, how much of an eroge is in it, and what sort of content is in there. Following some combination of the ratings used for manga and movies in the US, obvious ratings are:

18+ Explicit sexual content or nudity, gore.
16+ Offscreen sexual content, featureless female nudity.

Hm.. I think there should probably be some other categories here. A 13+ category for violence, and perhaps some sort of sexual awareness... not sure what that means. Non-cartoon violence should probably also warrant a 13+. An all ages rating for inoffensively boring stuff.

This is a hard category to get right.

I don't even have a name for the third category, but it contains the following values:

ren'ai - A game that emphasizes romantic love, or at least complicated love. These games move slowly towards ero, if at all.
light - Light games have light consensual relationships, moving rapidly towards towards ero. Usually, an ero scene takes place immediately after the pov character confesses. Sometimes, before.
dark - Feature non-consensual relationships.
None - No relationships involved in this game. Shoujo attack, for example, although in general such games are not covered by this system.

An open question is how much ren'ai should cover non-romantic forms of love. Despite the derivation of the term, I think most people here (and the archive) would accept a game featuring non-romatic relationships... or maybe not. Well, the archive might, anyway.

A fourth category is game structure. This describes how the game is structured and played. First up, we have the simple, story-based games:

Kinetic novels - are games where there is only one path through the story.
Limited visual novels - are games where there are multiple paths through the story, but those paths do not affect the outcome of the game.
Visual novels - are games which are DAG structured. Basically, this means that for any two events in the story, it's possible for an author to tell which will occur first, the vast majority of the time, because he or she coded the ordering explicity into the program.
Dating simulations - are games where the ordering is not pre-determined, but instead is determined by the game itself at runtime, based on some set of conditions that can only be known when the game is played. If for many pairs of events, a can come before b and b can come before a, you may have a dating simulation. Apart from the DSE demo, I can't think of a WAS DS.

It's possible to consider a game which is completely generated by the computer at runtime, but at least for now that would seem to be idle speculation.

Finally, there is "gameplay". This determines how the decisions are made. Some of these names are just placeholders, as in general I tend to sort of merge this category and the previous one in my mind.

clickity, clickity games are games where the only gameplay is dismissing text and making choices from my menus. Since I suck as a gamer, this is all I'm good at. Hence, Ren'Py.
RPG games involve some sort of stats-based combat.

It's possible to put any mechanic here... for example the Japanese Galaxy Angel games have flight-sim gameplay, IIUC. I believe Gatekeepers was a SRPG. And so on.

I'm actually not sure how to classify Summer Schoolgirls' map-based gameplay, especially because it's usually not possible to backtrack on the map once an encounter has happened.

Often, one will omit the game structure on a game with a significant gameplay aspect. So one would probably call Heikou an RPG, even though it's either an RPG-VN or RPG-DS. (I believe the former, but I'm not totally sure.)

Finally, let me qualify that I believe this reflects a systemized version of the usage of the terms in this community, rather than one the terms mean in Japan. In fact, some of the terms may be trademarks in Japan, and generic here, and others may be expanded, contracted, or mutilated beyond recognition. If they can do it, so can we.
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#7 Post by GLACIER » Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:07 pm

dating simulation is a term that doesn't even exist in japanese, and is generally used by uninformed people to talk about any bishoujo game, wether is had to do with dating or not (because, of course, it's a known fact that all bishoujo games exist for the sole purpose of simulating real dates for loosers who can't get a real social life). If anything, I guess it referes to a game that focuses on dating, such as Tokimeki memorial.
In Japan, Tokimeki Memorial is classified as a Love Simulation Game. I've only played the original TM, so I'm not exactly clear on the genre conventions. However, I can say that TM is big on stat-based gameplay and repetition as opposed to lengthy, prescripted events (there're actually very few, although I understand that the TM2 team implemented more to give the game a slight adventure/novel feel).

Dates aren't special events either, but are integral gameplay elements. The "story" runs for three years, and you can set up dates each week. As you might expect, the general strategy is to

a) build your character's stats in a way that would impress the girl you have in mind

b) pick appropriate date spots and dialogue selections, depending on the girl's tastes and personality

c) juggle the amount of time you spend dating EACH and EVERY girl (for other girls, the goal would be to keep them happy, while keeping in mind that you might not want to pick the best dialogue selections or date spots). If you lavish too much attention on one person and ignore the others, the latter bunch gets angry. Eventually, one or more will "bomb" you (maybe they're spreading bad rumors? Whatever the case, every girl hates your guts after it happens). Getting bombed consecutively may cost you the game, so a strategy to fight off bombs is important.

All in all, TM is much more of a game than a story. It's completely different from a visual novel/AVG.

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#8 Post by mikey » Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:11 pm

I have to say it makes sense to make the terminology Western (or international), rather than going for the purist approach and asking what the exact term is around Shinjuku (or where it is they have those huge gaming stores).

It's critical to distinguish between an effort to systematize/logically name these games and their genres and between summarizing their common usage.

Most people don't even distinguish between dating sims, bgames and ren'ai games (by most I mean the ones who are only casually acquainted with them - not those who are very competent leading authorities ^_^jk).

So I think it is reasonable to know what are b-games, ren'ai games, dating sims and visual novels - those 4 terms (well, maybe eroge) should get the job done for most people. Plus, genuine English terms like "sex romp", "tear-jerker" are enjoyable as well and often unknowingly are the equivalents of Japanese terms.

I don't necessarily recommend using more than that - yaruge, kichiku etc... usually work only for a handful of people - it somehow puts more elitism (I know this word is somehow tied to MT but I use it generally now) and confusion into the matter than would be necessary. I mean there is no real subgenre for racing games even though there are so many different ones. A simple division between streetracing, grandprix, rally and arcadeish is enough. No one asks is if it is a "touring car game" or "circiut racing game" or other things.

I think PeaPri/GC use the terms nicely, plus the people aren't really so dumb as not to understand what is generally meant when a game is described with one or two of those terms. "Oh, those Japanese games with girls" is a frequent answer and it's somehow not as far off the point as the academics believe.

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#9 Post by Shii » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:52 pm

A "dating sim" may technically be a Tokimeki Memorial kind of game, but it's used more often to mean any ren'ai game. And nobody would misinterpret you if you used it that way. That's not misinformed or overly vague; it's merely adapting the word used for the first widely known ren'ai game in the U.S. Similarly, "sci-fi" often deals more than speculation with science, and "comic books" are usually not humorous these days. I don't see anything wrong with "dating sim" although it's technically off.

"Bishoujo game" is associated with the pornography G-Collections and Peach Princess sell alongside their visual novels, and so I would not prefer it be used by anyone. As for "ren'ai game," it's a useful term in technical discussions like this, distinguishing between Tokimemo and visual novels, but it's a rather bizarre thing to encounter as it is never used outside the American visual novel doujin community.

By the way, I would not put kinetic novels in a separate category from visual novels. A kinetic novel is just a visual novel with zero choices; adding a single silly or meaningless choice to a game should not magically transform the name of its medium.

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#10 Post by PyTom » Thu Sep 08, 2005 7:43 pm

Shii wrote:By the way, I would not put kinetic novels in a separate category from visual novels. A kinetic novel is just a visual novel with zero choices; adding a single silly or meaningless choice to a game should not magically transform the name of its medium.
I actually disagree with this. If I know a game has choices that can effect the outcome, then I will probably pay more attention to minor details in the game, in the hopes of making a choice I consider to be correct. OTOH, for a kinetic novel, I probably experience the story on a less analytical level.
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#11 Post by Shii » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:36 pm

It's the author's choice whether to have interactivity in the game. It makes it a different kind of story, but it isn't separate from a visual novel, the same (er, opposite) way Choose Your Own Adventure is still a sort of book.

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#12 Post by mikey » Fri Sep 09, 2005 9:45 am

I agree that DS is way off target but at least around where I am located the term bishoujo game is taking/took over the once popular DS or HGame - mainly because the mentioned PP/GC games are more widely available. So sure, they may have started the term "bishoujo", but then again there's nothing wrong with that, as for me this is much more plausible than generally calling them DS or VNs - Brave Soul and Viper Paradice won't fit into that.
Shii wrote:As for "ren'ai game," it's a useful term in technical discussions like this, distinguishing between Tokimemo and visual novels, but it's a rather bizarre thing to encounter as it is never used outside the American visual novel doujin community.
Still, I see nothing wrong when a community develops their own terms that fit it. (though technically it's not really an American community, more like English (as for language), or international (as for origin).

Maybe you're looking for a term to describe the "true love/romance visual novels - choices or not"? - because I see no difference in the gameplay of Crescendo (romantic) or DYLHB (sex) - this will also apply to kinetic (I still like to call them digital) novels like Narcissu vs. Legend of Fairies - their gameplay is identical - click to advance text, no choices.

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#13 Post by Shii » Fri Sep 09, 2005 8:50 pm

I don't want to fold all eroge under the term of "dating sim" or "visual novel". Quite the opposite, in fact. Brave Soul and Viper Paradice should be hidden underneath the store counter, and CLANNAD (for instance) should be on display.

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#14 Post by mikey » Sat Sep 10, 2005 6:18 am

Shii wrote:I don't want to fold all eroge under the term of "dating sim" or "visual novel". Quite the opposite, in fact.
It's true, I actually try to implement this kind of division - eroge/bgame is content and VN/KN or DS is gameplay. I have to deal with it every time I put a new entry in, re-evaluating, trying to systematize and so on. So I tend to think about this a lot - although mostly for the purpose of the site - normally I don't mind if someone uses this or that term.
Shii wrote:A "dating sim" may technically be a Tokimeki Memorial kind of game, but it's used more often to mean any ren'ai game.
This said I really believe the new JAST site's category name "dating sim games" is plain wrong, but as you said, there are many people using this term and it may give them more hits from their teen target groups googling around.
Shii wrote:Brave Soul and Viper Paradice should be hidden underneath the store counter, and CLANNAD (for instance) should be on display.
Still, if it were like that, it may be that things could slip into another extreme - just like the "hated" sex-only games, this can lead to overglorifying of intellectual story-based games.

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#15 Post by Shii » Sat Sep 10, 2005 1:25 pm

mikey wrote:Still, if it were like that, it may be that things could slip into another extreme - just like the "hated" sex-only games, this can lead to overglorifying of intellectual story-based games.
Well, what's wrong with that? If you try to sell eroge as a genre to an American video game store, they would undoubtedly turn you down. If you try to sell Kanon as a visual novel, on the other hand, they might take it.

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