I’ve written about the importance of representation in media quite a few times in the past, I even have a post series dedicated to talking about inclusion and diversity in nerd culture. Most recently, I wrote a post about diversity (or the lack there of) in otome games and after penning the post an indie developer friend of mine reached out to me about the topic. We had an awesome discussion about the depiction of people of color in visual novels and the importance of wholesome representation. She even gave me some insight into the difficulties some content creators have when crafting characters of color in their games, a perspective I hadn’t considered. I’ve seen quite a few polls and surveys floating around about the content of western otome games and visual novels, many of which have sections dedicated to gauging player interests in diverse characters.
I love that there is an open dialogue about diversity in games, especially in romance themed games since there is a noticeable disparity in the number of otome games that feature black and brown characters in major roles. However, I’ve heard through the grapevine that there are a handful of developers that have been saying that they don’t include darker skinned characters in their games because they “look bad” or aren’t as attractive as non black and brown characters. Some people have stated that it’s harder to create characters with darker complexions using the anime art style common in otome games… and hearing that is really heartbreaking. On some level, I feel like this is just a carryover of colorism, and the notion that dark skinned individuals are not as attractive as lighter skinned individuals (which is not the case at all). But, on other levels, it’s less an issue with darker characters looking bad and more a case of an artist needing more experience depicting characters of color.
There is a demand for more diverse games, heck, this past weekend someone used the search term ‘otome games black girl friendly’ to get to my site and I’m gonna be honest with you guys, it made my whole weekend! As more people start playing otome games (and romance visual novels) the demand for more inclusive characters and narratives will only rise and those who stay stuck in their ways are really limiting themselves. So, for the person that searched for black girl friendly otome games and for the folks that think “darker characters look bad” here are a few Melanin Friendly Otome Games and Visual Novels!!
Continue reading “Melanin Friendly Otome Games & Visual Novels”
Newbie developer Steamberry Studios delivers a magical adventure in their debut supernatural fantasy visual novel, Changeling. The game follows Nora, a high school senior who finds herself drawn into the world of the paranormal after moving back to her childhood hometown of Pine Hollow. A community of Cryptics (supernatural beings) operates in the shadows of Pine Hollow, each with their own secrets… After experiencing a number of strange occurrences, Nora discovers that she is also a Cryptic and the revelation sends her world into a tailspin. But, unlike her friends and fellow member of the Supernatural Club, her supernatural origins might be darker than anyone could have anticipated. With danger around every corner, Nora must rely on one of six guys, to uncover the secrets of her past while also helping them deal with their own supernatural issues.
I’ve been following Changeling‘s production for a very long time now, from the kickstarter campaign to tumblr dev updates to the beta testing and I’ve talked with the devs at length about the game on a number of occasions. So, I suppose you could say I am really invested in this game.
Continue reading “Changeling Review – An Imaginative Supernatural Romance VN”
Jaime Scribbles Games just released their newest game, a dystopian life-sim visual novel As We Know It. Set in the distant future, where the world has been plagued by climate shifts that have turned the surface into a veritable wasteland, people have taken refuge in underground sanctuaries. One such subterranean town, Camden offers a safe haven for a those select few lucky enough to secure an invitation to the exclusive oasis. You (default name Ashlynn Phillips) and your mother are given the opportunity to escape the surface for the safety and security of Camden. The mayor, Rick Davidson and the people of the city welcome you with open arms, and the abundance of resources are a welcome change from scarcity of the surface. But, all is not as it seems in Camden, as seeds of descent spread the social order of the city starts to deteriorate and you must decide where your allegiances lie. Do you stand with the Mayor and protect your new home or do you rebel? The choice is yours.
- Genre: Life simulator, Romance, Drama
- Available for PC (Widows, Mac, Linux) and Steam
- 30 Endings (4 romance routes, 3 potential friendships)
- Gameplay Lengh: 3-5 hours per playthrough
- Cost: $19.99 USD
- Life-Sim Gameplay
- Customizable MC
- Similar Games: Aloners, Who We Are Now
Continue reading “As We Know It Review – A Diverse Post-Apocalyptic Visual Novel”
Originally developed by Seven Submarines in 2018 for the annual game jam NaNoRenO, Ultramarine: A Seapunk Adventure is a short fantasy visual novel that takes us on a journey into the deep. Gabrielle Freedman embarks on a journey into the sea to find Nauticus, Crown Prince of Atlas in hopes of securing his aid in an ongoing political struggle on the surface. Unbeknownst to her, Nauticus has his hands full with an ongoing civil war over control of the throne. Exiled alongside his royal guard, Zeppelin, Nauticus is desperate to reclaim his throne and reluctantly agrees to a tenuous alliance with Gabrielle. Together the trio devise a plan that could be mutually beneficial to both their causes, but, it involves confronting an evil sea witch. With everything on the line Gabrielle, Nauticus, and Zeppelin gear up for fight that will determine the fate of their very different worlds.
- Genre: Adventure, Romance
- Available for PC (Widows, Mac, Linux)
- 7 Endings
- Gameplay Lengh: ≈45 mins – 1 hr
- Cost: Free
- Partial Voice Acting
- RPG Style Battle System
- Similar Games: The Blind Griffin, A Foretold Affair
Continue reading “Sexy Mermen, Political Intrigue, and Magic – Ultramarine: A Seapunk Adventure – Game Review”
Hey Hey Heroes, Travelers, and NPCs, out there it’s Monday, and that means another Melanin Monday post!! I know its been awhile since my last Melanin Monday post (I’ve been slacking off), but, for those of you just joining the party, here’s a little refresher. Melanin Monday is a bi-weekly post series that I started for Black History Month, where I talk about Black and Brown skinned characters in anime, manga, video games, etc., but you guys loved it so much I decided to continue it! This week, I’m looking at diversity in otome games!
Otome games promise a player driven gaming experience, giving players the opportunity to romance a diverse group of characters. But, really how diverse are otome games? Sure they feature characters from a wide range of character archetypes, but when it comes to their appearance, they all seem to fall into the same generic bishounen category. What’s more, mainstream otome games tend to have a distinct lack of racial diversity among their romance options. Western otome games have been more successful at integrating more diverse romance options in their games, with characters from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicity, but, Japanese otome games are much more restrictive in the types of romance options they offer. But, given that otome games are created with a Japanese audience in mind, this is not wholly unexpected.
However, with an increasing number of Western gamers playing otome games, this lack of diversity could alienate individuals looking for games featuring characters that share similar characteristics to themselves. In recent years, Western otome games and Original English Language Visual Novels (OELVNs) have stepped up to provide a solution by offering games with more diverse romance options that are more reflective of their target audiences. As a woman of color, I appreciate the efforts of Western developers to incorporate diverse characters into their narratives, because it creates an opportunity for representation that may have otherwise not existed.
Continue reading “[Melanin Monday] Diversity in Otome Games”