My group and I presented today on dating sims but unfortunately we ran out of time to go in further detail on Hatoful Boyfriend and the Western Influence. Below are my notes and references for my speech, and here is the post to our Prezi and our individual YouTube clips.
Additional note, this is copied from my word document so some things may be out of correct formatting.
- An otome dating sim trying to find love between human and bird
- You pay as a young girl given a rare opportunity to attend an elite school for birds.
- An elite school called St. Pigeonation
- She doesn’t say how she got this opportunity other than “it’s a long story”
- There is some interaction, you can choose classes or activities
- It does take a while for the game to get somewhere + slow & gradual audience immersion
- Where Ibrahim’s game (Sunrider Academy) had a point reward structure, the only points you get in Hatoful Boyfriend are to increase your intelligence, charisma and wisdom which changes depending on the class you choose – I’m yet to find out what they’re for though.
- Hatoful Boyfriend’s first release in its current visual novel format was a freeware demo released as a downloadable application on 31 July 2011
- Hatoful Boyfriend was originally created on a limited budget and with limited promotion
- It wasn’t until word of mouth got through Twitter and other social media that it started to boom
- At the beginning of the game you are able to select whether you would like a human portrait or not upon meeting different birds – the portrait only comes once.
- The idea behind the game is that the pigeons become seen less like pigeons and more like people, with personalities, characteristics and the use of portraits
- A sequel, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star, was released on 29 December 2011, with an English version being released on Christmas Day the following year
Game play experience
OUTSIDE OF THE GAME
- Several official adaptations of Hatoful Boyfriend including books and publications, webcomics, drama CDs, web radio, web series, and plush production line.
- Hatoful Boyfriend drinking game
- Erick Scarecrow released a Kickstarter in November 2015 with Hato Moa and Devolver Digital, asking for $25,000 to create a production line of three characters from the Hatoful Boyfriend universe, specifically Shuu, Ryouta and Okosan.
- The campaign ended on December 6 2015 with all stretch goals reached, adding seven more characters to the production line. A total of $145,015 had been pledged in less than a month.
- Because of the success of the first Kickstarter, the following year Erick Scarecrow, Hato Moa and Devolver Digital released a second Kickstarter campaign
- They didn’t raise as much as the first but it was still above their target, raising $54,455
Doesn’t stop there!
- Hatoful shop – Okosan Plush for ages 15 & up? http://hatofulshop.limitedrun.com/products/572747-hatoful-boyfriend-okosan-plush
- Beanies, ponchos, assortment of bundles, socks, tags and lanyards. Not to mention my favourite item, the body pillows – where you can have your sleep with your very own snuggling pigeon boyfriend!
- One side of the pillow shows the human portrait, the other the pigeon form
- Last but not least, the less ‘official’ side of things. Redbubble and CafePress are websites and companies that host customised products from users.
- Redbubble had a majority of customised shirts made by fans with a few miscellaneous things like these stickers.
- The HatoStore by Cafepress had a bigger variety of products with bags, mugs, pins, shirts and a few others.
- I thought I should also mention Line. The Line store had stickers for sale but they’re not physical stickers, they were the digital stickers, like the ones you can download on Facebook (think Pusheen). I thought this was interesting having a cross platform and not just physical products.
- Another thing I should mention, Line has official licensing for the stickers, it just wasn’t the official page from Hato Moa. Thought I could slip that in there.
Before I move on to our next topic…
I encourage you to check out a Sydney Morning Herald article which is linked in our references list, they state some very good points and they have some really interesting facts in their research, in a part of the article SMH states “The developers from Voltage surveyed Japanese women extensively, asking about their lives and needs before adapting their games to match”. I found it really interesting and if you would like further reading on dating sims I highly recommend it.
I will firstly give a quick brief of three games.
England Exchange! An International Affair is a Visual Novel made by a UK company called Hanako Games.
- Released April this year.
- You’re an American student on exchange in England, living, working and studying in London.
Dream Daddy, is a gay dating sim where you date dads. It’s made huge success since its release earlier this year.
- The success of Dream Daddy was due to promotion of the very popular developers, Game Grumps, a largely recognised Let’s Play web series.
- As of October this year, Game Grumps has 4 million subscribers and over 3 billion total video views.
Coming Out On Top – released in 2014 but came to Steam as of October this year.
- Created by an American heterosexual woman under the developer name of ObscuraSoft, and funded through Kickstarter
- The dating sim involves the white main character coming out to his two roommates
- He also has a pet goldfish you can confide in with a possible story route of being sexually mounted by this pet fish
Without getting too far into the western gaming concerns and getting off topic, the success of the western dating sims has identified a growing interest in games that think about and explore relationships.
- The Sims has been a leading figure here for many years, but recent games like Gone Home and Life is Strange are pushing toward more human complexity.
On another scale, we have dating sim parodies. Mostly made by fans using Ren’Py development software but here are some examples.
Shia LaBeouf Meme Master Dating Sim – Free to download and consists of Shia LaBeouf memes. https://gamejolt.com/games/shia-labeouf-meme-master-dating-simulator/77971
- Found on a website called GameJolt.
- Free to download and play. Also has a walkthrough.
Resident Evil 4: Otome Edition http://www.pcgamer.com/resident-evil-4-otome-edition-is-a-dating-sim-played-from-ashleys-perspective/
Also on GameJolt, A Day in the Life of a Dating Sim (early access) https://gamejolt.com/games/a-day-in-a-dating-sim/143694
However, because these are all fanmade parodies, there wasn’t much information on where they were developed. It was more so what software was used. I found it hard finding any parodies in a western art style like that of Dream Daddy or England Exchange.
…But with some digging I found this Kickstarter!
Grand Old Academy has a free demo for Mac and Windows on their Kickstarter page.
- Released in May this year.
- It’s described as ‘Hatoful Boyfriend but instead of pigeons they’re politicians’. If you’ve ever had a desire to date Donald Trump you now can!
This concludes our presentation. Are there any questions?
Notes and other bits:
The Guardian gives an in-depth look at how Dream Daddy became a success in the West.
- The Guardian mentions in their article that ‘daddy’ is a broad term saying it “usually refers to a character, who is larger and typically older than the average player, someone serious but with a sense of humour – someone you look up to even when you’re playing the game as them.”
- Continuing they say, “some modern characters are more overtly paternal, such as Joel from post-apocalyptic adventure The Last of Us, Booker DeWitt from Bioshock Infinite and Nathan Drake’s surrogate father figure Sully in Uncharted”
- “It is usually refers to a character, who is larger and typically older than the average player, someone serious but with a sense of humour – someone you look up to even when you’re playing the game as them.”
- “…Leaving straight women, people of colour and a huge proportion of LGBT people out in the cold. It’s not that games by and for this diverse market don’t exist but they often don’t receive the publicity they need to get them into the hands of as many people who want them.’
Comparing dating sims/VNs to a soap opera or romance novel in interactive form.
Who We Are Now is a dating sim based on queer romance in the post-apocalypse. Out of four male candidates, you get to freely choose which relationship you want to invest your time in. In exchange for helping the person you choose, the village elder gives you a place to stay. https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/06/a-charming-post-apocalyptic-gay-dating-sim/