As a content creator I’m often approached by developers and publishers who want me to cover their game or product on my various social media platforms. They’ll send me a game with the understanding that I’ll play it and cover it as Blerdy Otome. Most of the time, these are publishers or developers that are familiar with me and my content, so they are approaching me because they feel that I am a good fit to promote their game or product.
Occasionally, I’ll get a publisher that has clearly not done their homework who will send me a game that is very much outside of my wheelhouse. Just last month I had a publisher reach out to me about promoting their porn game, and while I do play a lot of 18+ visual novels, something like PornStar Harem is just not something I’d cover on this site (or anywhere else for that matter). I’ll try just about anything once, but even I have my limits, because at the end of the day, Blerdy Otome is a space for uplifting creators and media that spotlight diversity and for me to talk about my interests.
It’s been a while since my last Confession and that’s because I didn’t have anything I needed to get off my chest. But, it’s a new year and with it comes the promise of new game releases and the inevitable pull we as gamers feel to keep up with the latest trending game. FOMO is real and no one wants to be out of the loop. But it’s hard keeping up with new releases and it’s exhausting trying to keep up with everything.
So, apparently there has been some discourse in the otome games community—I mean, when is there not drama—concerning using the term “otome” for more inclusive titles. There have been some folks in the fandom who are upset that folks are using otome as a catch all term for any game that fits the otome mold, ie. a protagonist who romances pursuable characters. Some, use otome to encompass idol and card-raising mobile games, like A3!, and more recently Tears of Themis. While others feel that LGBT+ indie games to be otome.
This is not the first time this issue has cropped up over the years and it most definitely won’t be the last, but I think this new wave of discourse is just disheartening. Times have changed, games are becoming more inclusive and more people are seeing media that speaks to them and their truth, so it only makes since that the language we use should grow and change with the media. So, today I’m going to talk about what makes an otome an otome and where I stand on including LGBT+ games within that otome umbrella.
I know, potentially polarizing opinion incoming–don’t @ me.
But, if you’ve been following me for awhile it shouldn’t be such a big shock that I prefer indie otome games over the more “traditional” Japanese otome games. I mean on a very basic level, indie otome games are much more accessible and available than Japanese otome games. Sure, we’ve been getting tons more otome games than we have in the past, but given the volume of otome games being released in Japan annually, what we get through localization is merely a drop in the bucket. Not to mention localization titles are selected and curated by companies that at the end of the day are protecting their bottom line. So the games that do make their way to the West are ones that are considered the most “financially viable” (read: safe).
I started this series as a way to get personal with you all and share my thoughts about things happening in the otome community or share fun stories and anecdotes about being an otome fan. So, for the new year I wanted to share a story that is definitely one of the more interesting experiences I’ve had over the years.
For my first confession of 2021, I thought I’d tell you all the harrowing tale of how I got my copy of the Hakuoki Kyoto Winds art book–and trust me it’s something… Now, because this story involves another person I have omitted their name for anonymity and even though it was over 3 years ago, I checked in with them to make sure it was okay to share and they gave the go ahead. So trust I covered my bases on this one….
I have been running this site for a little over five years and there is one question that has plagued my blogging experience: Do you have any game recommendations?
It’s not that I don’t want to give game recommendations. Hell, I give them all the time, to friends, family, complete strangers on the internet… I have lists dedicated to game recommendations! I can’t tell you how happy I get when someone doesn’t just play a game I recommend, but they fall in love with it. It’s one my single greatest joys as a reviewer.
‘Do you have any game recommendations?’ is an innocent enough question–on the surface. Y’all this is one hell of a loaded question. Imagine for a minute that this question appeared in your twitter DMs; no background info about the asker, no point of reference on games they’ve played… nothing. Just…
DO YOU HAVE ANY GAME RECOMMENDATIONS?
Do you give a general recommendation? What if you suggest something from a genre they don’t even like? What if the game you suggest has triggers for them? What if they’ve already played it? What if they can’t play the game because they don’t have access to the platform it’s on?
Even if you know the person asking the question, you still run the risk of making a “bad” recommendation and that’s a lot of pressure sometimes OR maybe that’s just me. So, instead of sending “Do you have any game recommendations?” or some variation, here’s how you SHOULD ask for recommendations.
Blerdy Tribe, I’ve been rather inactive lately and for that I apologize, but real life got kinda hectic for a while there and I just didn’t have the time or the energy to read through 100k+ visual novels. I’m human. But, that brings me to something that I have been meaning to talk about on this blog for a very long time—visual novels are long af!
You’d think that’s a given, I mean they’re called visual novels for a reason. But, time and time again I underestimate just how much time I need to finish a visual novel (or an otome game for that matter). I know some folks who blaze through games in about 2 days and I am always in awe of their speedy playthroughs, but I just don’t operate like that—especially if I plan on writing a review. I take my time, dragging out my playthroughs for weeks (sometimes months) to ensure that I get the full scope of the characters and the story—or at least that’s what I want you all to believe.
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 activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.
We are all familiar with the term “gatekeeping” at this point in the game, especially if you run in many of the nerdy circles of the internet. Because, let’s face it the nerd community isn’t always the wholesome escape we want it to be—especially if you happen to be BIPOC, female/ female presenting, or anyone that isn’t a straight white male. So, being a black female nerd is like a double whammy sometimes, with me having to constantly PROVE that I am a “real” nerd, to folks who feel they are the last remaining accolades of some secret club. Just because I don’t watch or read the hottest “mainstream” nerd media, that somehow invalidates my nerd card and that’s just not fair.
I was browsing Crunchyroll and I ran across the anime Demon Lord Dante and man did it trigger some serious nostalgia. For those of you that don’t know—Demon Lord Dante is a supernatural horror series by Go Nagai, the man behind Devilman and Cutie Honey. The 2018 ONA, Devil Man Crybaby is based on Nagai’s Devilman series and if you thought that was trippy, you NEED to check out Demon Lord Dante, because MAN IS IT WILD—religious allegory, satanists, demons, monsters, naked women being sacrificed, and just a hint of incest to top it all off…and it’s AWESOME (and terrible). Just watch it (dubbed) and see what I’m talking about.
Now, technically, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh were my first “official” anime watches, but back then we had no clue that what we were watching was anything other than cartoons. So, in my head I have a hard time thinking of those series as anime, because growing up they were just “cartoons”. It wasn’t until I was well into my teens that I realized there was a difference and began actively seeking out anime.