When you hear of someone playing a dating sim you may picture a recluse talking to a 3d girlfriend on a DS. That, however, isn’t really the case and the dating sim most people joke about or think of is a rare case. Most dating sims aren’t about a virtual girl that calls out your name at all in fact. Most Dating sims are actually choosing your own adventure romance novels that are rather popular among both male and females. Actually, believe it or not most “dating sims” get made into a lot of anime we love and become major hits in the community like “Shuffle!?” which is loved in the harem community.
Basically, it takes all the fighting out of who the main character should be with. During playing the games you will make choices of where your character should go. Like for example: you can choose to go to the cafe where guy A works or the hotel where guy B lives. The novels have several diverging paths with lots of text to each of them creating several different stories you can play through. There are even paths where you can make your character simply observe and not date anyone. One of the most well known cases of this is Harvest Moon’s marriage system.
In Harvest Moon you don’t simply sit there and talk to a character; you give them gifts and learn about them through cut scenes. You can interact with multiple characters and find the one who’s story interests you the most. So if you like stories about a certain type of guy or girl you can choose that route as your preference rather than watching through a story and a character you have less interest in taking over the lead. This is also touched upon in a lot of popular games like Skyrim, although not as deep or story driven.
Basically, a lot of people have played or had something to do with an actual dating sim more than they realize. Romance is a huge part of our culture and games and media reflect this constantly. There are even spin-off books that have characters going a different path with a romantic interest at this point. Everyone loves a love story that they can connect to and dating sims allow this to be a very easy to reach reality by adding so much choice to their publications. So next time you see a dating sim give it a look it may be that fantasy romance you’ve been looking for in Barnes and Noble for weeks.