Visual Novels

I picked up my son from his friend’s house and he looked kind of morose. He turns to me and says, “I’m depressed.” This is my ninja assassin child. My child that thinks if you can’t fix it blow it up. He’s all balls to the walls; going down in a raging flame of glory; hell hath no fury like my son scorned. I love that kid, chip off the old block {tear}.

So why is this kid depressed? After all, he has two main reasons for going to his friend’s house: better internet connection for homework and video games. So I asked him what was wrong and he said a game he was playing had him up for fourteen hours straight. Not so unusual for this kid. Turns out it was a type of game I had never heard of called a visual novel.

visual novelWhat are visual novels? These are much like the old books often called “choose your adventure books,” where a reader would be given a choice of paths to take at the end of the chapters. Exact same concept here, except these games are visual, donning bright anime graphics and theatrical music throughout the story line. There are several styles ranging from adult (Eroge), science fiction, and emotional (Nakige), to horror. Each type is designed to instill a specific type of reaction within the game player.

Of course, I did my own homework to find many of these games are based on Japanese novels, or were so popular they were eventually turned into novels. I asked my son (19 years old) if he cried, as he said he was playing the emotional games (Nakige) games. He said he didn’t, but he did get choked up because the characters completely draw the player in.visual novel2



What I’ve learned:
The game is played in first person, a change from the typical choose your adventure novel. Because it is first person, the player is deeply embedded not only within the story but with all the emotion of the character. These characters have such in depth stories and intricate emotions that it is near impossible not to get caught up in the moment. The games are growing in popularity and generally take 10-16 hours to complete one story. They are playable on PC and some are occasionally ported to game consoles. Most recently they have been adopted to Android applications, although they aren’t as in depth due to memory limitations. Also, only one character story takes 10-16 hours, and there are several characters, plus you can replay the same character and choose different outcomes.

So what’s the big deal? As these games suggest, they are visual novels, which should be of interest to any author out there. The entire game is reading. READING! So I’m already excited at the prospect that this avenue has brought a new generation of non-readers to reading. Plus, these games take limitations off the story line. The bigger the book, the more it costs. As such, authors create trilogies or more. With Visual Novels, the book is only limited to memory space.

The catch: Before running off and using a free program to create your own Visual Novel you must know this: you will need graphics, typically anime with a range of emotion. And you will need an orchestra for the theatrical music aspect. Visual Novels are wonderful mixed-media avenues, so if you know an artist and an orchestra, this is a perfect opportunity to cross promote each other.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Looking for an Orchestra


2 responses to “Visual Novels

  1. I love the humorous way in which you write! I learned about visual novels after playing a Nintendo DS game. I fell in love with the game right away. Maybe your son can find a used copy at Amazon… it’s called Lux Pain. It’s very unusual and interesting.

    It seems to take America forever to catch on to new ideas. Companies go with the money. Once shooters became popular, I lost hope in seeing games like Syberia, The Longest Journey, Moment of Silence (all pc games your son may like), etc., ever getting enough funding. Oddworld is back, so I won’t give up! Some people tire of waiting and end up making their own indie games. I hope to see more of that.

    I’m a mom who really loved arcades as a kid, loved choose your own adventure books, reading, and music. Mixed media novels and games should be seen as a great niche to consider! I loved that Harry Potter got kids into reading again. Digital changes are constant, so there are many ways to present ideas. I’m hoping to find a way around the memory problems of smart phone apps, as well as find my own way of ‘mixing’ my media.

    Good luck.

    • My son goes around the proxy so he can play the Japanese games. He’s picked up some Japanese so that’s a plus. But I agree, the U.S. will not invest in anything that isn’t high profit, and yet some of the best stuff around are indie…even the games. I thought they were crazy playing 64bit Mine craft, then I played it. Now I’m hooked.

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