Visual Novels Are games?

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#26 by kiru
2021-06-11 at 10:20
< report >@25: You are grasping at straws. Photoshop is a program for working with images to begin with and no VN. Or what, you actually think "it" refers to anything and not VNs, what this topic is about?

A book in a book reader is also not suddenly a visual novel. That said, yes, the choose your own adventure "books" you can buy on steam and so on, they are part of the adventure genre of games as well. And yes, print it, with the good old "go to page xyz", it'd not be a part of the adventure genre of video games anymore. Implement such a book as a program? A video game, part of the adventure genre.

The adventure genre, walking simulators and so on are games. There might not be much gameplay (consisting out of walking or only pressing the Enter key, to quite a bit of exploration and choices), but that's just the way the adventure genre works.


Like really. The first games were all heavily text based. If you have an entire linear experience that completely automatically runs, it's not a game anymore. But the adventure genre is pretty big, and allows for a lot, provided you don't enter another medium, like a movie.Last modified on 2021-06-11 at 10:21
#27 by eacil
2021-06-11 at 11:23
< report >I am grasping at what you gave me, i.e. everything is a game as long as it's a software. Not my bad if you think it's enough to close the debate.

All I can say is that those old games were trying the best they could to simulate an environment with no graphics at the time, and to do that they had to map it with text. It was primitive but they still relied heavily on choices to make you in control of the simulation. A bunch of text alone without choices would have never been called a game, how entertaining it would have been.
Visual novel are not defined by choices. You can scrap a VN from all of their choices and it would still be a VN. You have no control, no simulation of anything, you are just reading, listening (not mandatory) and looking at the pretty pictures. If clicking on the text is a gameplay for you, well, oh boy, you must have plenty of fun in your life. Given that, I don't see how the substance of visual novels is gamish, coz it's not. At its core it's a digital illustrated book. Even calling gameplay a bunch of obvious choices to enter an heroine route is btw quite a joke.
Printed, a "choose your own adventure" is still a game. Taking back its digital attire will not erase its playful nature. They are... game books.
>A book in a book reader is also not suddenly a visual novel.
Hey, look, you answered the question yourself. A digital book is not a game. But a digital book with pictures and sound is?

My point is the same as the one in the article, the medium is mostly irrelevant, what matters is that gameplay is not defining for visual novels and therefore doesn't make them games. They *can*, but they are not, first. You could ship a photoshop with some goal and logic and call it a game but I would never call a game something like Narcissu or even Saya no Uta and its three choices. Well, I do because I couldn't care less about this pointless debate and calling them games is convenient. I am for them infesting the game and book databases muhaha.
#28 by butterflygrrl
2021-06-11 at 12:32
< report >>You can scrap a VN from all of their choices and it would still be a VN.

depends on who you ask, honestly.

I've seen some people say that having any choices at all 'taints' a VN because it's meant to be fundamentally a NOVEL.

I've seen other people say that it's a blatant misuse of the medium if it doesn't have any choices, the whole POINT of a VN is being able to explore alternate avenues, and that's why we have a separate term for the ones that don't have any choices in them.

There are VNs whose only choices are three really obvious decisions to get on a heroine's route and that's it, no good/bad ends, no questions. That is absolutely terrible gameplay, but still possibly a decent novel.

There are other VNs with 40+ endings and dozens of choices and branching paths and yes, the choice gameplay is quite central to their experiences. you can't scrap the choices, because it's fundamentally not a linear book.Last modified on 2021-06-11 at 12:32
#29 by palas
2021-06-11 at 12:43
< report >Of course VNs are games. This is a ridiculous debate.

"I couldn't care less about this pointless debate and calling them games is convenient."

@27 Well, there you go. They're produced by game companies, are historically attached to other game genres and are sold in game platforms. Why call them anything else?

(Also, Ryukishi's position is similar to Paul Auster's. And I like their positions)Last modified on 2021-06-11 at 12:47
#30 by eacil
2021-06-11 at 13:12
< report >@butterflygrrl: Yeah, I didn't want to mean take any VN and strip it of its choices but more like strip the VN genre of its choices and the genre would still exist. Yes, removing the choices from something like 428 would cripple it even though you could sarcastically argue that we are able to put everything on steam those days, even heavy nukige.
As to what "some people" think about the whole VN experience, well, it's just parish rivalry. Higurashi and 428 are visual novels. It doesn't matter if some gatekeepers throw a tantrum. If they are just opinion, they are fine ones because we all have expectations and visual novel is a wide genre with a lot of potential. That's even why we are not even able to agree on the fact that VN are illustrated books that can be games.
#31 by encrypted12345
2021-06-11 at 21:36
< report >Ultimately, this question is tied to the question of if a certain game counts as a VN hybrid. The line between VN and video game is blurry, especially since there are already a variety of titles that exist on the line and can be classified as both VN and video game. Yet, I consider these two as two seperate categories. When I rate a VN, I use different criteria from when I rate a video game, placing way more emphasis on the story than the mechanics of navigating that story. It's unhelpful to consider visual novels video games because a pure VN has entirely different goals in what type of experiences it wants to give to the reader than what a video game wants to give to a player. Personally, I just slap them into the broad category of "interactive electronic media" and leave it at that, along with that interactive movie on Netflix.
#32 by ithoo
2021-06-12 at 03:43
< report >Absolutely necessary.
#33 by fazz321
2021-06-12 at 04:27
< report >I think VNs are games. Visual novel are made as games, and I don't only mean the process itself, I mean that when you launch a visual novel you'll almost always see gamish enviroment with options like "settings" screen, "save" and "load" screens etc.

Visual novels are universaly made as if they're games and that's why it's more likeley for them to be games and not somthing else.

But the debate itself is useless because it all come down to "do you want to include visual novels in 'games' category?" There is no right answer it's just a majority rule.
#34 by silvercover
2021-06-12 at 05:39
< report >#19
by that logic a lot of mystery books are games because they challenge you to think of the answer and what really happened.
#35 by eacil
2021-06-12 at 06:01
< report >#33, motion comics and movies have menus and can have bookmarking or chaptering. Are those games too? Seriously, guys, your arguments are really weak and superficial. It's like games have invented computers themselves and all that is inside them belongs to them.
#36 by fazz321
2021-06-12 at 10:09
< report >#35 it's like trying to compare VN settings menu and MS Word settings menu. Games have a very specific types of settings menu, and you can distingush a game menu from a dvd menu. The menu itself is not the point though, intent is.

Anyway I can enjoy my VNs regardless if they're games or not. That is why it doesn't matter at all. It's just a classification to classify things in groups.
#37 by altonan
2021-06-12 at 10:15
< report >No. And if you think they are let me prove you wrong in the form of a song: link
#38 by iwannarategames
2021-06-12 at 10:20
< report >/v/ is a slice of shit. Maybe I'll respect their opinion on whether or not VNs are games when they actually start talking about video games.Last modified on 2021-06-12 at 10:21
#39 by altonan
2021-06-12 at 10:28
< report >@38

Maybe. But they sure know how to write some amusing song parodies. And at the end of the day isn't that what really matters? Though admittedly this one definitely wasn't their best work.Last modified on 2021-06-13 at 00:24
#40 by fallenguru
2021-06-12 at 10:43
< report >> Ryukishi's position is similar to Paul Auster's

I don't suppose you have a source handy, #29? I really liked 4 3 2 1, and it is the only example of a modern VN in literary fiction that I know, so I'd be really interested in his take.

> By that logic a lot of mystery books are games because they challenge you to think of the answer and what really happened.

#34, yes, exactly. And just to make sure we're on the same page, I happen to think that logic is sound.


Could we please separate "software" and "game"? There's plenty of software that isn't a game, and plenty of games that aren't software. Rock-paper-scissors is a game, and that has no form at all, neither physical nor digital. Besides, I don't think anyone's arguing that VNs are not software.


Ultimately, it's a point-of-view thing. Anything *can* be a game if you consider it as such, engage with it as such, and that definitely includes even kinetic VNs. On the other hand, I don't think a few choices, even mini-games, are enough on their own to make something a game. Just like including a riddle or a coded message, that the reader could solve if he wanted, in a (printed) novel doesn't magically transform it into a game.

We tend to be very generous in applying the label "game" to visual novels, because computer games are where their historical roots are, and they still share many formal similarities. Just like we tend to call a work of modern art a painting even if it doesn't rely on painting skills, or indeed any skills, but is the manifestation of an idea.
#41 by fazz321
2021-06-12 at 11:41
< report >Actually a good question to ask is if "computer games" are "games" at all. It's not like non computer games were designed to make people cry or scared or something, and it's not like anything interactive automaticaly becoming a "game".
#42 by butterflygrrl
2021-06-12 at 12:37
< report >#41 At this point we start getting into ludology which I don't think any of us have studied at an academic level, though I've read some essays somewhere once or twice.

see, for example, discussions on what defines a "game" vs a "toy". which iirc comes down to something like, a toy can be used freely as the player wishes and the end condition is whatever the player says it is, while a game has a defined goal. then you take it a step further and differentiate between a "game" and a "puzzle", in that a game has a lose condition where a puzzle you just keep fiddling with until you figure it out. if you give it a time limit then a puzzle becomes a game, maybe?

again I haven't actually studied this at an academic level this is just a really vague overview of discussions I know do go on among the deeply nerdy.
#43 by acerola
2021-06-12 at 12:44
< report >Eroge are games.
“Visual novels” is just a western meme, like “hentai” or “yaoi”.
#44 by butterflygrrl
2021-06-12 at 12:51
< report >i'm old enough to remember the wild weeaboo wars when websites couldn't decide whether "etchi" meant "only a little hentai" or "the most extreme hardcore hentai"

(the term weeaboo didn't exist yet obviously but you get my drift)
#45 by beliar
2021-06-12 at 12:56
< report >Eroge is any game with sexual scenes. When it comes down to it, even "The Witcher" is eroge. Visual novel is a completely different beast, and it's not a Western meme, as the term was coined by Leaf, even if it has remained mostly obscure in Japan.

For what it's worth, the language evolves, and the terms change meaning. It just so happened that the term VN has become the widely accepted one in the West, while Japan doesn't have a unified term for the genre and mostly uses ADV, galge, bishoujo game or some other term to describe the concept.Last modified on 2021-06-12 at 12:56
#46 by ithoo
2021-06-12 at 14:36
< report >#42 In that case it is much easier to make the distinction, since by "toy" one tends to mean something "tangible" that is intended to entertain, whereas a "game" generally tends to do "something" that has certain rules or structure and whose purpose is also to entertain (It is only necessary to analyse the term from an etymological approach).

I don't know how it will be for all of you, but personally I tend to unconsciously draw a line depending on whether or not the eroge/visual novel has playable elements or not. For example, with Rance I'd say "I'm going to PLAY Rance IX"; but in the case of White Album 2, I would say "I'm going to READ White Album 2".

#43 Btw, not all visual novels (ビジュアルノベル) are eroges, but all eroges are visual novels (This rather than a western "meme" is an established term which depends on the content of the title in question).Last modified on 2021-06-12 at 14:39
#47 by clorust
2021-06-12 at 17:32
< report >I don't know if it's all that relevant if they are or not. Semantics, basically. Usually VNs are distinguished from video games for things like recommendations and reviews; and are even treated as a distinct Japanese medium in the same way manga, anime and light novels are. For that reason, regardless of whether or not you consider them video games, it's useful to segregate them into their own niche due to how mechanically distinct they are.
#48 by silvercover
2021-06-12 at 21:33
< report >#46
eh, so you count platform games that has your character beat enemies each stage but get raped in case you take damage/lose, as a VN?
#49 by encrypted12345
2021-06-12 at 21:52
< report >@46 Lmao Not all eroge are VNs. Adding H-scenes to a chess simulator would make it an eroge, but it wouldn't make it a visual novel.

Damn, now I kind of wish there were a chess simulator like that.
#50 by butterflygrrl
2021-06-12 at 22:12
< report >@49 link though I think that's just strip chess not full h-scenes