More On Dating Sims: Hatoful Boyfriend

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.

Hatoful Boyfriend

  • 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


  • 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?
  • 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.

  • Found on a website called GameJolt.
  • Free to download and play. Also has a walkthrough.

Resident Evil 4: Otome Edition

Also on GameJolt, A Day in the Life of a Dating Sim (early access)

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.

Dating Sims

This topic is presented in a Prezi by Amy, Hayden and Ibrahim. Links to our individual YouTube highlight videos are below.

Ibrahim, Sunrider Academy:

Hayden, Lucy the Eternity She Wished For:

Amy, Hatoful Boyfriend:


Love Live – Why I Understand It So Well!

Hey all!

Ultimately, I’ll be changing my DA because I understand Japanese gaming too well. However, I actually really enjoyed realising just how much I understood about Japanese Idol and gaming culture- and then realising that it was making this game easier for me to understand and interpret.

Here’s my podcast:


And as always some helpful links:

Beyond the Walled Garden and into [클로저스]

In high school, I was well-versed in Japanese media and decided to teach myself the language as it has kept my interest for a long time now. By year 10, I didn’t have to wait months or years for a translations. I could immediately get my hands on the game or manga as soon as it was released in Japan and I felt a little proud of myself because of that. I felt as if I conquered something.

During high school I also had an interest in MMOs that were coming out in South Korea. I could easily access Japanese MMOs even if they blocked my Australian IP (Thanks to VPNs of course). But MMOs in South Korea were a special case. To sign up for any Korean MMO you required a KSSN (Korean Social Security Number) which you can only have if you are a citizen of South Korea. Nowadays an i-PIN is required which is an alternative but still requires you to be a citizen of South Korea to obtain one. With some luck, I was able to obtain an i-PIN and able to access an MMO that I was looking forward to since 2013, 클로저스 (AKA Closers)


Unlike everything I had played before, this was a completely new experience. This wasn’t a game made for the Japanese market I had adapted to nor was it localized for an English speaking audience. This was a pure, unadulterated Korean MMO experience for people in South Korea. Before I even started the game I noticed something, the amount of options for security. I’ll refrain from posting screenshots but there were options for:

  • Blocking foreign IPs from logging into your account
  • Verification of identity when creating a new ID on your account (Requires verifying i-PIN account)
  • Preventing the use of cache for selected games
  • One time passwords
  • Captcha for every time you login
  • Being able to check the log of IPs for every login

It’s safe to say that Koreans take their online security very seriously, even for online games. First thing I immediately notice upon login of Closers is the stamina system which is common for mobile games in Asia but it’s rarely used in Japanese or western MMOs. Even it’s stamina system was unique as rather than having one stamina bar, there were two. One for the character itself and the other which was called account stamina. Rather than simply using another character once that character’s stamina has run out, if account stamina is depleted then you can’t jump to another character to play.

This stamina system clashed heavily with the games I played before such as Final Fantasy XIV and Phantasy Star Online 2. If you’re behind your friends in terms of equipment or level, you could catch up if you put in a few hours of play and with some dedication you can catch up within a day or two depending how far behind you are. In Closers however, progress has a daily limit. If you have a friend who has a week of dungeon runs ahead of you, then you’re forever stuck behind them unless they slow down or you get a whole bunch of stamina potions. Later on in the game dungeons have daily entry limits, so you can only enter a number of times before you’re locked out for the day.

As for the gameplay itself? Quite frantic with lots of special effects, it makes it a little tricky to keep track of enemy movements to dodge but you can either turn those off or get used to it. During the time I’ve played Closers, starting out I noticed that there were very few players below level 60 around. So on my way up, I barely saw any players around my level. Granted there’s an abundance of channels, roughly 200 so it might just be a coincidence. It was interesting to say the least.

Players started appearing once I got to the late game areas where people started to farm for raid gear. Even then I was really surprised looking at their gear. Bumbling around not being able to read Korean I was able to get gear that gave me roughly 60,000 physical DPS but I saw people with gear that gave over 150,000 DPS. It was clear the playerbase was very dedicated and played every single day to make progress.

SCREEN_CAPTURE 2017-05-12 23-01-32-593.png

Here’s my character!

Overall, it was strange starting from the bottom again, not being able to adapt to the playerbase or even communicate with them. In Japanese MMOs, Japanese players frown upon foreign players if they can’t speak Japanese, even more so if there’s an IP block to keep you out. Thankfully I speak the language so I can keep myself out of trouble there. However in Closers? I’d be outright banned on the spot if someone tried to speak to me there. But hey, it’s all fine as long as they don’t know.

Corpse Party Final blog

The Pink Protagonist Writes

The idea for doing a lets play video as part of my own autoethnographic research seemed like a good idea at the time, however that is exactly what I lacked. Time.  And these games really do require time to get into to fully appreciate and enjoy them.

The game itself is actually not that bad. I think, given the chance, I would very much like to go back and try it again. But this time without the pressure to keep a video to a reasonable timeframe. This is a heavily story based game, and you’re meant to take in a lot of information and follow a fair few clues so you can get the ultimate ending. I adored the use of 2-bit animation, and the fact this was coupled with anime cartoons. It really was a well-made game and I can see why it has done so well.

I was definitely…

View original post 802 more words

Auto-ethnography: Explained

Below is an infographic I created to explain the research practice and methodology of auto-ethnography, I hope it makes it easier to understand what is often an overtly abstracted idea.






Corpse Party lets Play: the begining

Linking here to the two other blogs as an error when re-blogging means I’m no longer able to re-blog here.

Corpse Party Part 2

Corpse Party part 3

The Pink Protagonist Writes

Tortured_Souls_characters Original image came from

Ok, so as promised in my video I will write this mini blog with a bit more information about ‘Corpse Party’. My intention is to do a few let’s play videos for this game, with the goal to finish the game. But we will see how we go.

As stated in my video, the game itself has a pretty massive intro that requires a lot of reading. This did mean that my first video is pretty much all intro into the game as it took close to 20 minutes just to do what I did. I have yet to find anyone that has transcribed the whole game. I am sorry for skipping through the text so fast. I will keep digging to see if I find one. OR, if time permits, maybe just write one up myself.

So, Corpse party was first released in 1996…

View original post 440 more words

Professional Gamers? They exist?

I’m not sure you’re 100% aware of this but yes, there are people who play video games as a professional sport.  I’m going to ignore the debate about whether or not Starcraft counts as a sport and focus more on on of the pro players Kim “herO” Joon Ho.

Pictured: Sport

Pictured: Sport

Kim is from South Korea, where they treat pro gamers the same way America treats pro football players.  I know it sounds a little strange doesn’t it, something we’re not used to here in Australia.  It’s difficult to get a handle on just how popular pros like Kim are.  

Part of the lifestyle is living in a team house.  The whole team lives, eats, sleeps in the same building so that they can focus on their craft.  Kim is no exception, being part of team CJ Entus,  so public appearances seem to only happen during tournaments or events organised by CJ Entus for the sake of publicity.  Most of the interviews he partakes in are after the series of games he has played.

Kim in his most recent interview. Notice the amount of sponsors (source)

In my opinion it wouldn’t hurt to have professional games become popular in the west either.  When I was growing up everyone was into their sport of choice, my family was into soccer more than might be considered healthy, and I was almost alone being interested in video games.  I know most people never grow up to become professional football players but it would have been nice to have some sort of aspirations of professionalism rather than just be playing what everyone called “silly games.”

In fact if it weren’t for tournaments with their own celebrities, like the Global Starcraft League (GSL), games might not have taken off today in the same manner.  Games like Starcraft and DotA are much more popular in South Korea than they ever were in the west, resulting in the 11 year wait between the initial release of Starcraft and the sequel.   It’s interesting to me though that these games are all manufactured by companies from America, instead of local companies making similar games in a more familiar language for people like Kim to excel at.

All in all, I can’t wait for pro gaming to become mainstream enough that I can say what I watched instead of the Superbowl at family gatherings.

I Hope Hideki Kamiya Reads This One Day

Finding a celebrity in my current auto ethnographic focus of either Monster Hunter and social gaming was proving to be very difficult for me, largely because I speak no Asian languages (as far as I know). Seeing as I purposefully know very little about these areas (at the moment at least), I was totally unable to find a single person widely recognized in them whom I could discover anything about. In order to compensate for my inability to stick to definite topics, I have chosen to follow the light-hearted social media presence of my favourite man of gaming, Hideki Kamiya – because that’s close enough, right?


Hideki Kamiya is the resident cheeky man and games director at Platinum Games, renowned for titles such as Bayonetta, the Wonderful 101, Vanquish and Mad World. I find Hideki a great person to analyse for in my opinion, he has the best online presence of any game developer alive today. Upon searching I was unable to find official pages of his on Facebook and Instagram, rather his Twitter is the only means in which he promotes himself; and boy is it enough. Here I have compiled an archive of my favourite tweets from this beautiful man, which also further demonstrate my next point…

Having tweeted a whopping 119 thousand times, it is clear that Hideki uses Twitter for the purpose of interacting with and answering questions from his fans and customers, other than solely as a means of personal gain. This idea I feel is strengthened through the absence of these alternative social media, for they are not as accessible in terms of audience engagement as Twitter is.Through continual use of this site, Hideki has constructed the image of himself as light-hearted, playful and slightly bossy.

As much as I love this Twitter account, I can’t help but feel like at least a small portion of it is shaped by personal biases and assumptions – for instance that Hideki speaks fluent English (or rather he does not). While I have no doubt that I love this man, I often find myself wondering how much of this opinion is flavoured by his inability to articulate our language flawlessly – let alone while being forced to shrink his words to suit Twitter’s needs.