Romance Games, known in Japanese as ren'ai (romantic love) games, are a category of videogame that covers several mechanics and demographics. The distinguishing factor of these games is that the primary goal of the game is to establish a romantic relationship between the Player Character and one or more of the NPCs. Although the genre originates in Japan, they are also made elsewhere, particularly in the form of "Doujin-soft" (noncommerical fanmade games).
Most ren'ai games are Visual Novels (a type of Interactive Fiction) or Dating Sims (a type of Simulation Game), although many are hybrids, such as Role-Playing Game/Dating Sim or Action Game/Visual Novel. Many ren'ai games contain some erotic content; those where this is a major feature may be classified as eroge (short for "erotic games").
Romance games can be broken down into the following types:
- Bishoujo Games
In Japan, the term "Bishoujo (beautiful girl) game" covers any game for men that offers pictures or animation of attractive girls, regardless of gameplay style or narrative content (see Bishoujo Genre). In the West, the term is generally used to cover ren'ai games aimed at a male audience.
- Otome games
Otome (maiden) games cover any game aimed at a female audience that is not a Boys Love game; the majority are Visual Novels with romantic elements. Many are made by departments or subsidiaries of bishoujo game companies; for example, Tokimeki Memorial has an otome game spinoff, Tokimeki Memorial: Girl's Side.
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