Dating Sims for Women Take off at Tokyo Games Show 2016

Popular “otome apps” show a gender shift in the gaming market.


Dating sims—a gaming genre usually reserved for a male players—underwent a noticeable gender shift at this month’s Tokyo Game Show 2016.

RocketNews24, covering the event, pointed out that there was a large contingent of “otome” games present, which are designed for women players.

While a gaming staple in Japanese for quite some time, dating sims (also called relationship simulation role-playing games) have begun gaining popularity in other countries.

A noticeable (and let’s be honest here) and downright weird example of one that’s crossed borders is Hatoful Boyfriend.The goal, as the female protagonist, is to woo, date, and then become romantically involved with—wait for it—a bird.

Perhaps due to the popularity of Hatoful Boyfriend, the recent Tokyo Game Show featured several otome games, including one from industry giant Capcom.

Part of the growing international market, Voltage Inc. also displayed its popular line of otome games for iOS and Android in both Japanese and English.

Voltage, to put it mildly, has pretty much every theme and genre covered, from titles such as A Knight’s Devotion (set in the Middle Ages), True Love Sweet Lies (with characters such as the Busque Lawyer, and the Mysterious Boss), Metro PD: Close to You (cop romance), and Era of Samurai: Code of Love (feudal Japan).

From Okko comes a very modern look at dating. Its Sweet Romance game not just has an office setting but also touches on the popularity of rental boyfriends in Japan—a trend where women hire temporary partners

Capcom, meanwhile, is clearly putting its development muscle into otome with Toraware no Paruma (“Incarcerated Palm”). The title the unique goal of trying to romance an amnesiac who may or may not be guilty of a crime—and who spends the game locked in a cell.

Don’t worry, though: you can still “touch palms” with him, send him presents, or even or spy on him in his cell.

It’s exciting to see Japanese developers recognizing the large female gaming market, as well as the increasing popularity of their otome titles in other countries.

One has to wonder, though, with games about dating birds—and jailbirds—already popular, where female gamers may find their next unlikely, or even bizarre, romance.

Image Source: Voltage