Why Dating Sims Have Become Popular?

You have probably noticed that a certain genre of games has been on the rise as of lately. This genre generally entails dating fictional characters and going down multiple story paths. In the past though, dating sims were frowned upon and have only just now started to pop up a lot. You’re probably wondering where exactly this genre came from and why it’s so popular all of the sudden? In this article, we’ll talk about what started the trend of dating sims and why they have climbed the ranks to being some of the most trending games this year.

Back in The Day

Before these past few years, dating sims were something that you didn’t hear about too often. This is because they were mostly frowned upon in society and in the West, you rarely see these games getting made. If these games did exist, they generally were short five-minute jokes that could be found on sites like Newgrounds. No one cared about these games and many people who did consider it way too embarrassing to even play them. That’s not to say that some dating sim elements weren’t put into some games but still the whole idea of it was pretty rare.

It doesn’t help much that the only type of games you could get in the genre for a while were incredibly adult-oriented in their material. This means that even if you had a friend that played them, they would never admit it because of the material that the game was advertised on. Basically, no one wanted to be known as the guy that would sit in his room playing adult animated games by himself. This lately has changed as many dating sims now are about getting to know the different characters within the games. So what caused the shift in the genre?

Dating Elements

First off, as games grew more popular in the 360 and PS3 era, we started to see a lot of dating elements being put in popular titles. We saw in Mass Effect that you could date multiple partners and get to know them and even have sex with. In games like Fable, you could woo a woman or a man into marrying you and even have multiple wives. While some of these systems were not nearly as in-depth as the dating sims we have today, it was a start. At first, a lot of people even took it as a joke and didn’t take the characters that they were indulging in seriously.

As time went on however, games like The Witcher 3 came out. This led to all-out fan war about what character you should date within the game and put with the main character. There were even arguments over which choices were canonical in the game. This led many people to start to see the genre in a whole new light and want to explore romance tales through video games. Instead of being looked down upon, it was now mainstream and popular to have dating elements within your games.

In fact, even more Japanese games have started using dating elements. Generally, being able to choose between love interests and following story paths is now something people look for in games. If you look at the now huge Stardew Valley community, there is a huge focus on the characters that are eligible for marriage. There are even communities where gamers work on getting more characters added to the roster of romance options. A lot of companies that publish anime have even started to bring over dating sims that are just purely about romance instead of including adult material due to the increase in interest in the Americas.

The Youtube Fun

Another huge contributor to the fact that dating games have gotten popular are YouTube stars. A lot of these stars have started playing dating sims for their channel due to some of the games being completely hilarious. The two most famous dating sims you’re going to hear about are Hatoful Boyfriend and Dream Daddy. These two games both feature really strange dating premises and are great for making videos with hours of hilarious content that entertain the Youtuber’s fans.

Hatoful Boyfriend rose to popularity a few years back when many YouTubers started playing it because of the fact that you could date pigeons. The concept was pretty weird and the dialogue in the game was completely unreal. Also, the fact that the game actually had really strong story elements took many watchers by surprise. This caused a lot of people to go out and seek similar games making the sales of the genre go up. Hatoful Boyfriend even gained such a huge following that it got funded on Kickstarter that has its own merchandise line by the fans.

The game Dream Daddy took steam players by storm earlier this year. The game was developed by popular YouTube duo, The Game Grumps. It was marketed as a comedy game where you made a dad that dated other mysterious dads. The dialogue in the game is strange and pretty out there, causing it to grab the attention of many people. A lot of the fans of the Youtube channel even picked up just to support the creators. Since the release, many videos and articles have popped up with theories have been written about the game and its characters.

Even more recently than all of this, we have in Doki-Doki Literature Club. This game is a horror-themed dating sim meant to catch players off guard. Many YouTubers made this game popular by playing it during some of the downtime between game releases. The game is even free on Steam, drawing in even more players than the other games. It even became its own meme and many people try to trick their friends into playing it to give them a fright.

Honeypop Exists

To even further explain this genre’s growth, just take a look at Honeypop on Steam. This dating sim is on the front page all the time. It even has thousands of players who constantly buy everything this game has to offer. Even worse, the game is now having its own adult version created and being sold by online sites such as J-List. It’s almost as if the games are now going in reverse as they’re having adult versions come out because they were so popular instead of being the first version made.

Also, I think people feel like it’s fun to date different people. With dating sims, there’s no risk in getting to know somebody and it’s a fun adventure to learn somebody else’s story. I feel like playing dating sims are a safe way to meet multiple people without actually having to have a real commitment. This makes a fake relationship that people can hang onto for a little bit and then move on to the next one. Many people are drawn to watching shows and video games because of the story that it tells about a character’s life. With dating sims, it feels a little bit more personal and you can actually interact with these people to an extent, giving you an even better experience.

Jessica has been working with the gaming industry for about two years now. She enjoys playing quirky Japanese games and learning about the newest trivia in the industry. When not working with games you may find her chilling with her naked cat Prince Noko... he's pretty cool we guess.
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