It’s a troubling view of human relations in general but it’s one that simple gameplay mechanics can handle.
So now we come upon the quantum conundrum of dating sims.
Another hurdle I see people experience when starting out playing dating sims is that they spread themselves too thin.
They shop around like they would when playing a Bio Ware game, interacting with all the different available characters for too long and find they are suddenly railroaded along a generic path that usually results in a normal ending where you don't kiss anyone, or worst-case-scenario: a harsh death.
Dating simulation games like Hatoful Boyfriend most often take the form of visual novels, interactive text adventures with images and animations accompanying the branching story.Some dating sims even go as far as avoiding a common-route affection rating approach entirely, like that found in Hatoful Boyfriend, by prompting the explicit choice of what character you want to pursue during the beginning of the game.This is usually done after a short introductory prologue and being given a narrative reason for the choice presentation, such as picking a classmate for a school project.Your character may speak of destiny and true love, but you as the player know better and are keeping a meta tally of all your conquests.Japanese cultural critic Hiroki Azuma wrote in his translated book Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals about the contradiction of the dual desire for small narratives and grand non-narrative databases, little quantum set-pieces at the expense of a linear canon story.
But when playing dating sims you are actually being quizzed on how much you know about a particular character you’re after, either learned through attentiveness or knowledge of tropes.