I am a stranger in a strange land when I talk about “bishoujo gaming” in general. Heck, I probably just used the wrong term there–bishoujo gaming is one of those keyword a RAML geek would use to define … that type of games for the PC. They’re mostly devoid of pornographic content as opposed to “eroge” and “h-games” are more typically known for. They’re the one you click frantically to get to from one sex scene to the next. There are all sorts of different labels to describe the various type of the same category of games–divide it up by gameplay and you get things like visual novels and adventure games and dating sims. Divide it up another way through content and you’ll get renai or horror or … the really nasty stuff that everyone plays? I don’t know.
It’s really a hard thing to grasp conceptually. For starters having all these different names probably is a good clue in that it is hard to define what kind of games I’m talking about–don’t be confused if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Heck, short of actually playing one you probably won’t have a good idea. They also vary a great deal both, as you can guess, in the gameplay axis as well as in the content axis.
It’s kind of like trying to “define” anime, isn’t it.
Yet, when you say anime people know what you’re talking about. I’m just shooting in the dark, but this split-personality problem with the bishoujo gaming (sticking to this one for convenience’s sake) scene may be an exaggerated version of what plagued anime in the early and mid 90s in how it is also intimately tied with pornography and having little mainstream appeal. Of course even today we don’t get anything more kiddy than Yugioh and the like, but is there a mainstream banner where such types of game can run under?
Yeah, and there has been such kinds of games. I think Thousand Arms or Harvest Moon is the first popular one of the bunch. Not popular enough, I guess.
But I digress. I, for one, don’t really want to know if you spent last night playing a game where you are a high school boy bent on raping every girl in your school or vicariously doing so by mentally manipulating every guy in the school, using every sexual fetishism possible, and end in a double suicide with your true love that you found in the process of turning the world into some level of hell. I want to know if you spent last night playing a game worth playing in front of all your friends! Or better yet, it’s a game where it is short (I average about 1.5 “bishoujo games” a year) and sweet and free. In other words: visual novels that are actually good novels; sim games that are actually fun, complex, not too obvious, yet not too mysterious that it is unintuitive; adventure games that have good gameplay elements; games that have good production values; good visual style; replayability; compelling; and a list of other things. That’s not including a list of things they shouldn’t be: clickfests; all porn nothing much else; music that doesn’t drive me crazy; too linear; dumb story; too episodic; etc.
I think back in the late 90s I bought a game, one of the earlier commercial attempt at porting this genre over, called Graduation. It’s Graduation II in Japan, and it is categorically a “raising sim.” I guess you can think of it like Harvest Moon, minus all the farming stuff. It was actually kind of fun, even if each time I finished the game I felt as if I just wasted 3 hours of my life. Heck, you can experience the fun with just $7 on top! It is such an old game, that it is probably easier to buy it than to pirate it.
We need more games like those.
And I’m not the only person who think so. NNL translated a few games, insani some more, and there are others that I just fail to name. They’re fan organizations, so they invariably are shady and their work can be found alongside of their original counterparts, nicely packaged for YARRRRR. Well, that doesn’t do us too much good in the short run. There are also other commercial ventures, but they tend to miss.
Still, we need more games. I think insani and a bunch of other people actually took up taking a few of the Japanese fan originals and porting them for English speakers. Now that’s free for all to begin with, so everyone can rest easy… Except that majority of them have no mainstream appeal, plus they kind of fail even more of my categorical limitations. I appreciate the doujinshi visual novel format a lot in how they can be innovative and go the extra mile to be artsy fartsy, but it really is hit or miss.
Which is why Galaxy Angel still needs your help. Even though that game still fails in a couple areas where I’m kind of a stickler for, such as length and cost, but it’s worth your support in the long haul.
And the long haul is what I am in for. I remember reading an interview of some North American licensing executive. He said he got into the business of licensing and porting anime for North America because he saw bootlegged anime. Why? Because bootleggers would not exist if there is no immediate return; and immediate return is only possible when there is already a system for the long haul in place. I ask the same question about our pirate culture. Would a bootlegger bother to download and repackage, say, Planetarian in English, and sell it? Have you seen it? And more importantly–if not, why not?
There is a whole second part to this rant–actually that’s what I am really itchy to talk about. The problem here is partly because I am, in the end, still in the dark. I don’t have facts nor even solid impressions. More importantly, this is all important background to set up the questions I will ask, which will have no real answers. To be continued, then?