Hatoful Boyfriend

I’ve never had much experience with digital games, especially ones of Asian descent. Which is why this is an area I wish to explore for my independent research project.

Initially my idea was to analyse the well-known game ‘dance dance revolution’ however, I found it almost impossible to get. The download.jpggame has slowly died out due to the introduction of new technologies, such as X-box Kinect where sensors don’t require the classic dance pad anymore (and without a dance pad what’s the point?). Nowadays the game is almost strictly found at game arcades. Unfortunately, my closest arcade is located an hour away from where I live. Too far to dedicate an hour a day, which was my initial goal.

From this I was stuck and was almost about to turn to Pacman but was instead recommended a game called ‘Hatoful Boyfriend.’ The game is a 2011 Japanese visual novel video game that is known for being vastly different. It’s based on the story of a human who attends an elite high school for talented birds.  As the only human in attendance, the game focuses on the in-depth stories and relationships that they share with classmates and teachers.


To be honest I didn’t do much research on the game before I played it. One thing I did research was ‘strangest Japanese video games‘ and surprise, surprise ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’ was number one. From this I knew I needed to play this game.

I downloaded the game from the Apple App Store for $14.99. The game was downloaded onto my laptop, however, if I were to get it on my phone it would have cost me $8.99. Thinking it might have been easier to play on a larger device I decided to spend the extra $5.99 (I do not recommend this). Pretty quickly, it was up and running and I was able to begin my new life as a simple human trying to find a pigeon boyfriend.

The game introduces you to a number of different characters, both students and teachers. As an added feature the game gives you the option to see these characters in bird form and in human form – is this meant to make it less creepy? Who knows? You follow the storyline until you find out which bird you end up with. Throughout the game you are given options that lead you to alternative paths ultimately deciding which bird boyfriend you end up with. All up there are eight potential boyfriends. To name a few there is the mysterious French transfer student, the childhood friend, the popular upper-class guy and the quiet introvert.


I’m not going to lie, the game gets boring quickly. Unless you’re invested in the storyline it’s not very entertaining. All up it took me over an hour to finish. You have the option of skipping through text which is a helpful hack if you are playing the game for a second time. Despite the entertainment level, the concept of a visual novel is very cool. The graphics are also extremely beautiful. Each persona is done with traditional Japanese anime characteristics as you can see below:


While the game itself is not ground-breaking, or something I would even play again, it definitely has me intrigued in the concept of visual novels. Before this game I hadn’t heard of them nor experienced one. This had me asking the questions: How popular are visual novels? Which countries are they popular in? How successful are they? Is it a thing of the future? These questions I hope to explore further in my independent research project.

Through this experience my whole topic for my digital artefact has shifted. Now instead of just exploring Asian game culture I have decided to focus on the impact of visual novels on different societies/ cultures. At the moment my plan is to present my found data in the form of a research essay. I look forward to applying this experience to the background research I will be conducting in my next blog post.

Stay tuned!


  1. This visual novel style (and level of creepiness) reminds me of a Japanese game called ‘My Horse Prince’. It’s a really weird game about a women that falls in love with a horse. While the game you’re talking about lets you see the birds as humans, ‘My Horse Prince’ instead strangely just puts a human face onto a horse. Another difference in ‘My Horse Prince’ is that actual game play is involved in the form of mini games at the end of each section. The only reason I know any of this is because I watched a let’s play on youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF840CRYE18
    This sounds like a really interesting topic, and I will be looking forward to seeing your further research.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is interesting how your interest seemed to shift from such a physical video game to a visual novel which requires little to no user interaction. However, the popularity of visual novels is becoming more and more popular. The reason? As hypermediation and globalisation break down the borders of communication, new niches of video games/novels become available to us and allow us to become more familiar with asian mediums. More info on that here: http://www.sbs.com.au/popasia/blog/2016/04/27/video-why-are-visual-novels-becoming-popular-all-sudden

    I also liked how you noted the dying out of DDR. I love DDR and have a few in arcades where I live. It is interesting how globalisation and the modernisation which our society is enticed with has made arcades die out while they are still extremely popular in Japan (More info on the popularity of arcades in Japan here: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/02/why-arcades-havent-died-in-japan/) . With advances in technology, DDR is becoming extinct and will soon become a relic which people dig up from the ground. As new technologies are introduced, mediums such as ‘the arcade’ die out as people are no longer interested.

    I really enjoyed your post.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. The second I seen the title I knew this would be good! This game is beyond odd and the only reason I’ve been exposed to it is because I was a part of anime fandoms who all thrive on this sort of stuff haha.
    You did really well in simply narrating your experience however it would have been interesting to hear a little more about the game itself and what happened during it. I didn’t really get too much out of that except that you obtain a bird boyfriend. Other than that you managed to stick to narrating without getting side tracked. I’m glad this opened your eyes to visual novels. They are an interesting concept and very popular for a certain group of people, while not being for everyone. I think youd be surprised how many games we play ultimately are just visual novels.Are they as foreign as we believe them to be?
    Ill be intrigued to see you look more into the background and trend of visual novels.


  4. Taking a step back from such a strange game to view it in the broader context of visual novels and dating simulators is an excellent method of discovering more about this genre that. I think looking at why these games are so immensely popular in Japan but (usually) flop when exported would be a really interesting concept to explore in your research. I also found it interesting that you documented how you accessed Hatoful Boyfriend. The sheer weirdness of this game has actually made it more accessible to foreign audiences (eg. in terms of translation) however why is it so difficult for countries outside of Japan to access Japanese dating sims? Looking forward to your next post ☺


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s