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When badly executed, playing a dating sim feels like blandly clicking through conversation options waiting for the object of your affections to get to "the point." Some people might say they wish real life dating was as simple as navigating transparent dialog paths until someone takes their clothes off.Most people, though, enjoy the friction of the chase, and effectively creating it through narrative and choice design is one of the fundamental challenges for people who want to make games about romance.Appearances matter, especially how you dress, your hair, your face.
But while her perspectives often provoke ire from the mainstream gaming audience, it's hard to argue with Anna about the "lonely nerd harem fantasy" element of popular dating sims, the best known of which are Japanese-made and generally feature a roulette of slavish girls (plenty are literally about harems).
Fortunately, indie designer Anna Anthropy specializes in friction.
And in writing smut, apparently, as she's demonstrated with her latest text-based game, -style short, was inspired by her longtime partner and submissive, who was excited about the possibility of "the idea of games about dating and fucking that are written by people who actually understand human desire and interaction instead of lonely nerd harem fantasies." Anna is known not to mince her words or pull her punches in her indictments of the game community and what she sees as its highly-sheltered and inherently destructive culture.
Last time, I talked about how Hanako’s path exemplified the sexual exotification of disability in the game, mostly through giving the player a main character without a superficially notable disability.
Upon a first glance, there seemed to be little application for this analysis outside of criticizing pandering to men’s interests in visual novels, however, my personal connection to Hanako provided me with something else.