Confessions of an Otome Gamer: Otome Game Fans are REAL Gamers

So, when I wrote my anime gatekeeping essay, I was actually attempting to write about gatekeeping in the games community. But, I ended up running super long with the intro and rather than writing a ridiculously long post on gatekeeping, I decided to split the difference and write two separate posts. However, don’t get it twisted, gatekeeping in the gaming community is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a VERY long time, I just wanted to be sure that when I finally penned this post, that I didn’t devolve into incoherent ranting. I try to keep things classy here.

So, for those of you that don’t know, “gatekeeping” is what happens when elitism, entitlement, and privilege are allowed to run unchecked, resulting in a select group of individuals taking it upon themselves to preserve the sanctity of a particular “thing” by regulating what is and isn’t acceptable. Like bouncers who keep unwanted individuals from entering an establishment, gatekeepers act as the buffer between true fans of a medium and the uninformed masses. Gatekeepers see themselves as true fans, working tirelessly to ensure that the sanctity of their media isn’t tarnished by those they deem unworthy. The problem is that these individuals take things to the extreme, devaluing anyone and anything that doesn’t align with their “vision” of what a true fan should be… and it is this behavior that creates a lot of unnecessary negativity.

The gaming community is known for being especially toxic, particularly if you are not a straight white male (noticing a theme here?). Time and time again we hear reports of female and BIPOC gamers being mistreated, devalued, and outright shunned in some gaming circles, which is something that I have experienced first hand. I explained in my gatekeeping post that there is a sort of fandom litmus test that is used to measure your “legitimacy” and trust there is one in the gaming community as well. When I say that I like games, I am immediately asked to list off the names of games I’ve played in what I like to call the “interrogation” phase of the test. This is when the other person feels you out to see if you really have the pedigree to backup your claims. Unfortunately, I almost always fail this test, because I am one of those casuals who only play visual novels and *gasp* otome games!

Oh, for those of you that were unaware, yes I play otome games—welcome to Blerdy Otome, kindly tell how you stumbled upon my fangirl shrine. I mean, seriously, it’s not like I hide my love of otome games (just ask my IRL friends, they’ll tell you about my hour long otome lectures). To many of you, I’m merely stating the obvious, but, I feel that I have to actually say it out loud because there is this notion that otome games aren’t real games and by extension, otome game players aren’t REAL gamers.

Sure you’re not going on long campaigns or slashing through hordes of the undead in an otome game, and yes, otome games trade in a bit of the action you find in most triple-A games for reading—but contrary to popular belief otome games are real games. And yes, otome game players are real gamers.

Personally, I favor story based visual novels and romance themed games, but that is more of a preference than a hard and fast rule. I have played a few platformers and RPGs (with varying degrees of success) and I have a soft spot for fighting games like Tekken. But, the majority of the games I play are either otome games or visual novels and for many that plants my flag squarely in casual gamer territory.

I’ve had folks remark that I’m not a REAL gamer—Hell, I’ve had to DEFEND my love of otome games on more than one occasion and you know what that’s just not fair. I will admit that otome games are a niche genre, and while more and more games are making their way stateside, the fact of the matter is otome games are pretty far removed from the mainstream gaming community—most folks don’t even know they exist or they do know they exist and have made it their life’s mission to troll anything even remotely related to otome games or the fandom.

And a lot of that comes from the rampant misogyny at the very heart of the gaming community—because, why on earth should women be allowed to enjoy games… but, that is an argument for another day. Rather, I am frustrated at the fact that I have to even say out loud that I am a gamer, it should be a given. I run a review site, so I play way more games than the average person, but because I don’t play the “right” games I am somehow less of a gamer than say the dude holed up in his man cave playing League of Legends. 

Otome gamers go HARD for the fandom (just ask an otome gamer who their best boy is, I’ll wait) and to have uninformed assholes dismiss us as non-gamers is disrespectful. I have actually seen folks trolling otome game release posts online with comments like “oh not another one of these games” or “how about a real game next time” and that is simply toxic and disgusting. The otome fandom only gets a handful of games each year and to constantly have to defend ourselves against neckbeards with way too much time on their hands is frustrating.

There have been times when I have had to explain to clerks at game shops what an otome game is… and the looks I get sometimes speak volumes! But, I don’t complain, no I simply explain what otome games are and if a person seems interested, I recommend a handful of titles for them to try out. If they’re not interested, I smile and shift the topic to something else. No harm. No foul. The thing I take issue with are the folks who say that otome gamers aren’t real gamers, because it completely undermines the hard work and effort that goes not just into playing these games, but into actually making them! Otome games are real games and otome game players are REAL gamers!

Thank you for reading and supporting Blerdy Otome! 

Blerdy Otome Logo Small

Follow Blerdy Otome! 

Twitter | Instagram | Etsy | Tumblr | Otome Amino | Ko-fi

15 thoughts on “Confessions of an Otome Gamer: Otome Game Fans are REAL Gamers

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I’m so tired of being told I don’t play real games because I much prefer to play otome games or visual novels in general. When I do branch out it tends to be games like Dragon Age where I’m still super involved in the story decisions and wooing a certain romantic prospect.

    I don’t understand why “real games” are just whatever ones men enjoy.

    I really hope otome games continue to gain popularity so that more of them get published in the west or translated for play at least. There are so many games I’m desperate for that I can’t play because they’ll never be properly released here ;A;

    1. I am the exact same way, there is just something really appealing about story based games (lol I always seem to find my way back to them).

      I love that we’re getting more otome games and like you I hope we get even more in the future!!

      Gaaaah everytime I see a new Japanese otome game release I get so jealous! There’s so much more variety!

  2. There is so much gatekeeping going on in the gaming community it’s actually insane. I’ve never understood why some people (mostly men) seem to think that certain genres of games somehow diminish their hobby.

    I think a lot of the straight, white men that play “real games” recognize on some level that the majority of titles are geared toward their (traditionally) male interests; if more females, POC, and LGBTQ players start being recognized, then all of a sudden developers aren’t catering exclusively to their interests. Because god forbid there exists a game that isn’t a self-insert fantasy for you, or the same stale, boring FPS/fighting games. I know I’m generalizing (both people and games), but I think that bothers a lot of “gamer” dudes, which is why they feel so threatened by certain genres and groups of people.

    I think the gatekeeping issue will always exist in the gaming world, and it’s pretty depressing. But anyway, great write-up, and I think whether you’re playing otome games, visual novels, Call of Duty, or Candy Crush, it makes you a gamer.

    1. You hit the nail on the head! A lot of these so called ‘gamer dudes’ are just scared that more representation will equate to fewer games for them and I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to ever happen (they definitely bring in the big bucks).

      I agree this is probably always going to be an issue, that’s why it’s up to us to keep speaking out about it!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this! I’m nonbinary, so I often feel like I should be ashamed of my love for otome games, shojo manga, and other “girly” things. I get nervous that I’ll be shunned by other otome gamers, and that other trans/nonbinary folks will think that I’m faking my gender because I like feminine things. I really appreciate how inclusive Blerdy Otome is, I feel welcomed and accepted here. Thank you for making a safe space for all otome fans! ❤

    1. It’s comments like this that make writing these posts worth it! Never be ashamed for liking what you do! You have every right to love otome games and talk about them with other people! And I am happy that you were able to find my site! Thank you for being so awesome and for sharing this wonderful comment!

      1. aaaa thank you for the response, it really means a lot to me!! Thanks again for all you do! 😀

        (this is the same commenter, I just made an account now! Hopefully it doesn’t cause any confusion ^-^)

  4. Seriously, thank you! I really love to play otome games and visual novels…and even several of the other more “traditional” video games I play tend to have romantic options like Stardew Valley, FE, etc. I very frequently get teased by my Dad/brother, male gaming friends, and even other girl gamers for playing stuff like this so frequently. I’ve never understood why I should have to defend a game with a good story and/or have to explain to people with raised eyebrows why I enjoy “staring at flirting pigeons” or “creepy dolls” for hours on end when other more accepted games have “strange” aspects to them too.
    Yet for the two irl friends I have that DO play otome, we have the best conversations! I just honestly wish I had more friends that play or could manage to convince my other friends to give them a chance. It was a bit lonely to be so very excited for the English release of TaishoxAlice Ep. II all on my own with one of my friends just rolling her eyes — like, let me be happy that this game finally got a quality localization! xD

    And I completely agree with you! I have a best boy for every game I play and a top 5 ranking…and I can and will debate merits for ages if someone lets me or is interested. It is also so great to share memes (I once sent an image of Toma when a friend was talking about pet carriers and she has yet to forgive me) and listen to people happily rave about their favorites! (*´▽`*)

    Anywho…fantastic post! I will be saving this just in case!

    1. OH MY Gosh, Yes to all of this! I have friends that love anime, manga, and more “traditional” games. We can talk about other nerdy stuff, but for the most part they’re really good at humoring me when I start gushing about otome games or my fave 2D boys.

      I did manage to get one to play the KFC dating sim LOL baby steps. This is why I love the online community (to an extent) because I can connect with other fans and fangirl about all the games we’re playing and the best boys.

      This comment was amazing and I am always open for some otome chatting and fangirling!!

  5. Love your post! So true!!
    I don’t hide the fact I love otome games either. All my friends know about it.
    Like you, I started streaming on Twitch almost 2 months ago, but I don’t stream much. I’m still afraid. Afraid of being called an idiot, that I suck and so on.

  6. Yes!!! This is so accurate. Honestly it’s because any games that are targeted towards/associated with a female fanbase get discredited like this. I used to be a MASSIVE sims fan and sank so many hours and so much money into that franchise but it’s still treated like it’s not a ‘real’ game and that sims gamers aren’t ‘real’ gamers, despite plenty of professional gamers making a living out of playing it. The stigma sucks and it means games that have a higher percentage of female players (including otome games, like you said) end up not getting as much funding or attention.

    One of the reasons why I decided to start reviewing otome games is because I noticed that NONE of the major game reviewing sites/companies were covering otome games and I wanted to spread the love a bit more (and also meet more otome fans because I always need more people to hype with haha).

    Thank you for continuing to advocate for otome games and boosting them so more people can join the community and support the industry!!!

  7. Hi! As someone who is BRAND NEW (like 2 months in) to otome games, I’d like to add how terrible it is that a lot of this negativity is so rampant that it just gets internalized. I was never a gamer (i get dizzy easily, and have no patience) but even in my non-gaming life, I will admit that I too judged this community (sorry!!!!) And now that I’m looking into buying my first physical game, it sucks that I feel scared of going to a clerk to potentially be judged.

    Fortunately I lucked out in my family. I’ve been an avid kdrama fan so everyone already kind of accepts me as being “different” but even with this new interest, I was actually supported. My brother saw me watching a game playthrough and was like “really?” and shook his head, but then immediately asked me what game it was and if I had any plans of getting it. When I mentioned I was nervous about shopping for it, he just asked “why? You like it and you have money right? Do it” and even told me all the stuff he owns so I knew what I could borrow to play it on. It was such a validating experience to be able to like something “niche” without being shamed for it. I really feel so bad for everyone who is judged by even family and I hope that with posts like this one, maybe our interests will gain more acceptance.

Gush about cute otome boys~