I’ve noticed there seems to be a group of people who say they read eroge and another group who say they play them. I wanted to do a quick comparison between potential reasoning for people using each term and decide which fits the genre best.
Let’s just ignore the fact that the -ge stands for game since a lot of people in the English translated community call them visual novels. I’m going to focus on their properties, not their names.
Defense for “reading”: Eroge have a lot of emphasis on the text, and basically the only thing the audience does is read. So they’re basically like books or manga — they’re read.
Defense for “playing”: Eroge have text, pictures, sound and usually at least some interactivity, therefore they’re akin to games and are played.
I’m part of the latter group. In case you haven’t read my previous “Thoughts” article, I wrote about the defining characteristics of eroge and why we play them. Voices, in particular, are a significant contribution to my enjoyment of the genre. So if we exclude interactivity for now, including voices, pictures, and text makes eroge close to foreign subtitled movies. Do people say they read them? No. They watch them.
So now let’s add interactivity — choices. If our baseline of text, voices, and pictures equals watching, we already eliminated reading as a potential verb. Adding interactivity would logically bring it closer to traditional video games, which includes text, voices, pictures, and interactivity. We say that we play traditional video games, therefore it seems to me that we should also say we play eroge.
Some people may argue that the interactiveness is weak, but it’s still there. It’s still an important aspect of the genre. Most people probably want to decide which path they’re going to end up on and the order they play them in.
Yes, there are exceptions to every example I provided. There are movies and eroge without sound. There are eroge without choices. But in general, most modern eroge and movies fit my description. Instead of focusing on the outliers, focusing on the most common example makes sense. And from what I’ve argued, “playing” eroge makes more sense.