The obvious question you’re probably asking is: “What on earth are otome games, anyway?” Otome, which literally means “young woman” in Japanese, is the term used to refer to a genre of dating simulation games aimed at a female audience. Many of you have heard of male-oriented dating sims, or bishōjo games, such as Tokimeki Memorial or LovePlus where the player controls a male protagonist to pursue one of the many potential girlfriends. In fact, the mention of dating sims probably conjures up images of shy-looking young Japanese men wedding lady friends in their DS and stories of how Japan’s declining birth rate is somehow connected to the nation’s males being more interested in 2D lovers than real women.
Though dating simulation games have found a special place in the game industry in Japan, they have never really made the jump to international markets, with the exception of a few that feature cross-genre elements such as Thousand Arms, Persona 3, and the Harvest Moon games. In recent years, however, there has been an increasing niche market for PC eroge, or erotic games, in the US, but otome games have remained largely ignored.