I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t resist a dating sim. I wish I could say I can’t resist a good dating sim, but the fact is, I’ve played some pretty bad ones to completion and I will do so again in the future. There’s just something about those shallow, ridiculous occasionally brain numbingly stupid stories that I can’t stay away from.

I really don’t know what it is…

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I’ll have to study the question in more detail

In any case, countless hours spent in torrid digital love affairs may not have prepared me for the world of dating in any way, but they did teach me a thing or two about myself. Or 5, these 5 to be precise:

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why does my mind immediately go to a bad place…anime you have broken me

5. I’m a toddler and I can’t stand being told what to do…

This is a real shocker to me because I usually have zero issue with letting go of things in real life. I have performance reviews from my job that list my adaptability and willingness to change my mind as a strength. I’ve never been one to sulk if plans change or I don’t get my way, heck I hardly even notice half the time.

But the second on of those virtual pretty boys tries to tell me what to do, I rage! Maybe it’s because dating sim main characters tend to be super meek and get pushed around a lot, so I’m getting defensive on behalf of my avatar instead of myself. In any case, it drives me nuts. I have no interest in being anyone’s parent and I don’t need anyone to parent me either.

Not gonna lie, I scream at my computer a lot.

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this takes me back

4. Sense of humor rocks

Ok, I knew this already. I like someone who can make me laugh and considering how easy it is, you really have no excuse not to. I also can’t spend too much time with people who can’t take a joke. Life is full of things that should make you justifiably angry or sad, there’s zero reason for your partner to be one of those things.

My favorite routes almost always involve the easy going goofball or the shy boy who can laugh at himself. You got a dark and twisted past? Of course, you do, it’s a dating sim, EVERYONE does. Learn to crack a smile. You’re much prettier that way… 

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within reason

3. I like being needed

This was another revelation. I thought I was an independent girl, I do my thing, you do yours, and if those align we can do them together. My maternal instincts border on the *never ever leave me alone with children* side. Yet, I find my heart melting when that normally harsh boy finally asks for my help with something (tsunderes are a whole other issue…maybe I’ll tell you about it someday). I really like taking care of the people I care for… I enjoy putting in effort to do something I think will make their lives a little easier or better. And when I see those efforts actually pay off, it’s a huge thrill.

Once again, otome heroines tend to be so incredibly helpless and useless, that the idea of them contributing anything at all of use is a huge triumph in and of itself. However, it has allowed me to soften up a bit and acknowledge that having someone count on you is nice. Really nice.

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I wouldn’t put it quite that way

2. I care about who I am as much as who I am with

This one may take a bit of explaining. In some dating sims, you will see the attitude and personality of the main character change depending on the route they’re on, and therefore the suitor they’ve chosen. Occasionally, the change can be very striking. It has happened that I play a dating sim where my paramour happened to be perfectly lovely and the storyline is enjoyable, but the player character has suddenly turned into a whiny brat for some reason, or just a jerk.

No matter how sweet the other person may be, I don’t like being a jerk. I want to be with someone who brings out the best in me. It’s not very fair to put that on someone else I guess but still.

And I have noticed that in real life as well. I need someone who challenges me on some level or else I become lazy. If they let me get away with everything, I can get complacent. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s my responsibility not to be a jerk but I like to think that the person I’m with also wants me to be my best self. We can help each other along the way.

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at ease

1. Respect is more important than looks

I know, I’m as baffled as you are. I’m the one who just wrote that, and it still looks wrong to me. Have I finally drunk so much that I’m just permadrunk now? That explains the last 5 years…

This may sound like a given to you, but it wasn’t to me. These aren’t real people and let’s face it, half the time that main character is so thick that I’m disrespecting her big time. I’ve relished laughing my head off at how stupid some of these girls are. But if you want some sugah, you gotta be a gentleman – I don’t care how pretty you are. Yeah that didn’t sound right either.

The Diabolik Lover boys are gorgeous,  of course the are Satoi only does very pretty – see OzMafia as well, and yet I couldn’t enjoy a second of the game because of how dreadfully they treated the MC. Now there’s notions of S&M and control fantasies in that game so it may not be the best example but even in the fairly innocent Tokimeki Girl’s Side season to (I played the DS version). Saeki is by far the prettiest boy and the main route but they erred way too much on the side of tsun without enough dere to ever make me enjoy his company, similar thing would be said for Seiji in the 3rd game.

On the other hand, Junpei is not my type of character design at all but his sweet and considerate nature won me over so completely that his route quickly became my favorite.

All in all, these may seem a little obvious, but I never would have had the patience to actually put in the countless hours of dating required to figure out exactly what I want. Something surprisingly few people know.  

So I’m not just wasting my time drinking wine and chasing 2d boys on the couch – I’m improving myself!

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44 thoughts

  1. I am always game for a good or bad dating sim lol. I’m the lucky person who just got a gift of a psvita so I’ve finally got to play a bit of code realize. I’m on my second route and it has taken over my life. Now, even though I haven’t finished my first one on the vita I’m already looking for more…

      1. HAHA! I was going to make a post about that! However, these conferences are cutting into my gaming time now and it is sadness. My life will be back to normal on Sunday.

  2. This is great. But I always say that so I won’t even go there…
    I think you’re reasons are A1 (Aha! I got a new phrase that doesn’t sound repitive~Yippee) Rin-san! (As you can say I am more than a little hyper today)

    That said, I’ve played only one dating sim (forgot the name) and I got the fail route. So…..

    1. Whenever I play one of these, I’ll play once picking only options that are closest to what I would normally do/say and I always end up alone…. I’m both sad and proud of this

  3. Interesting! I have played some dating sims but haven’t discovered anything about myself yet (other than I love emotionally constipated guys with long hair)… I guess I need more play hours to reach enlightenment 😛

  4. Heh, I wonder how I would fair with dating sims. Only thing I’ve ever played was Katawa Shoujo, and that went best if I could identify with the girl (I’m basically Rin, so that one was easiest for me). Other than that, the closest thing I’ve played is Agarest War, which is a strategy rpg with dating sim elements (you pick a wife, then have kid, play that kid, pick a wife… over 5 generations [3 generations in Agarest 2]). And the next closest thing are probably the Persona games. I tend to go for the weird ones. Also, because I never get the options I’d choose anyway, I tend to prefer clearly defined main characters – that way I have a reason for choosing options I wouldn’t choose.

    1. Dating sims are often an absurdist experience. It can be hilarious to see what passes for romantic or desirable when taken to extremes. I tend to play them as my night time reading – the shallowness puts me right to sleep without a thought in my head! I never managed to finish Katawa Shoujo..

  5. I almost agree with your post. Dating sims are rare translated in english. We should value that they are but not to much to criticize them. Games are good but now authors changed conception to give heroine submissive and guys more agressive to her and they treat her bad and that isn’t good. Thanks for intresting post

    1. This probably depends a lot on your definition of *good* and *bad*. Dating sims tend to be very stereotypical and kinda dated. If, like me, you enjoy B movies and super cheesy stories then you have a treasure trove to pick from. If you are looking for actually well written narratives with interesting complex characters your options are more limited but there are a few and more are coming out all the time as the medium is gaining popularity

      1. I guess that’s kind of the answer I was looking for.
        My definition of good is entertaining, and it sounds like there are a lot of those out there for you.
        (I’ve never played all the way through a vanilla dating sim. The closest thing I’ve finished has to be Danganronpa- so that’s why I was interested)

          1. Speaking of violence-
            If I could buy Fate/Stay Night on steam, I would definitely play that!
            I have Devil on a g-string and Muvluv, but haven’t played through them.
            I dunno, hard to find the motivation to play through them.
            (There’s so much stuff you can do in a day, ya know? Time is precious- I just spent an hour on a river with some alligators!)

            1. Lmao!
              I’ll watch the anime again eventually- cus it was years ago I watched it. Who knows, my tastes might’ve changed, and I’m always trying to be open to great series.
              And yes! Alligators! One was 10 feet long!
              You’ll understand after I post about it Sunday…
              I even took some pictures! (not good ones, of course)

  6. What a fun post! I agree that most protag we have for dating sims are always the damsel in distress type so that does irk me too everytime. ^^;; One thing i learned about playing dating sims is that I like possessive men and it’s weird cause i’ve always hated this type of relationship irl. XD

  7. My experience with these is very limited, but I have to say that #3 resonates with me. I’m not a fan of routes where the MC is chasing the suitor almost the whole time or otherwise acts like a puppy. If they have some need my character can empathize with and fill, I’m a lot more into the story.

  8. This was a fun read, I miss dating sims…Something I’ve learned about myself thru dating sims (or any characters with a romance option) is that I’m a greedy little bitch lmao. I alwaaays try to date more than one character at once to see if the game will let me, soooo needless to say I end up getting a lot of bad endings because I won’t commit to a route. I would never be like that IRL but in the world of gaming I just, have to be a ho!

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