Thoughts: Why we play eroge

I’ve been looking for new eroge to play, and the question of what I’m looking for in an eroge kept popping up. Why do I play them? What qualities do they have that make me choose a certain one over another? Why do I prefer eroge over other types of media?

I decided to look into what I think are potential reasons for why people play eroge, and then I’ll see where I fit.

Romance. One of the more obvious factors. People could play eroge because they like romantic stories or want a change of pace from typical games that usually feature war and stuff. Or maybe the girls in eroge represent an ideal that players want in real life but can’t obtain. This leads to the second point.

Alternate reality. People want to live a different life. Eroge provide a method to experience different worlds or new relationships. If romance is the key property, this could come from a lack of romance in real life, dissatisfaction with real life relationships, or simply a desire to try something new. Maybe Micchi the player wants a loud, jealous, energetic, and annoying brat imouto that they don’t have in real life. Or maybe the player wants a radically different world with magic and stuff, something that the real world can’t provide.

Story. Maybe romance isn’t your thing. Maybe the reason one plays eroge is for the story. Many eroge have epic stories that can be achieved due to the length of the game. The only other form of media that provide as much of a focus on story are books, which lack many properties of eroge, which I’ll discuss later. Another strength of eroge is providing a slice of life story.

Characters. This can be another part of an alternative reality. Players may find characters they like so much that they want to spend a lot of time with them. People who care mostly about characters enjoy the experience of daily life with a character they like. It’s not necessarily the story that they like, but the process of going through it with a character they really like.

Ero. This may sound self-explanatory, but I think it goes deeper than that. In other forms of media like anime and manga, relationships feel a bit underwhelming because they often move too slowly or don’t develop as much as real relationships do. In real life, people have sex. We wouldn’t be here otherwise. (Did I just make people think of something they didn’t want to? How about now?)  In most anime, you’d probably be lucky if characters ever kissed, let alone have sex. And don’t get me started about shounen romance manga. In eroge, relationships actually move forward, though not all of them do so realistically. Sometimes the ero is forced in the story, but if it’s done right, it can be satisfying and rewarding. Or some people just want sex. And lots of it.

Now let’s move on to the more technical aspects of eroge.

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Since I didn’t have any voices in the Te to Te Try On! review, here are some clips of Ichino from their site.

Voices. Unlike manga and books, eroge have voices, which can add to the immersion of the story. This will obviously help the people who want an alternative reality. Obviously there are great eroge that don’t have voices, but I believe it’s still a very important aspect of the genre. They can make or break a character for me.

Music. Similar argument to voices, except music provides more of an atmosphere than anything else. Can you imagine playing an eroge on mute? It’d be a drastically different experience.

Maybe you really like this. Hey, it’s Shana.

Or this.

Pictures. Another obvious aspect. This puts the visual in the visual novel that the Western market likes to call the genre. Along with sound, this is what allows eroge to distinguish itself from books. Being full color is an advantage eroge has over manga, though eroge doesn’t have the sheer amount of unique images. On a related note, the art style of the game may be very important to some people. Some people may find it had to get into a game with an art style they don’t like, or they may play a game just because they like the art.

Now for some comparisons to other types of media.

Ability to control pacing. One of eroge’s advantages over anime, which has many similar technical properties, is the ability to control the pacing of the story. If you want to slowly go through a part of the game because it’s really enjoyable, eroge makes it easy to do so. If there’s a part of the game that bores you to death, you can hold control or another key and skip through it.

Ability to influence the story. Having multiple girls/paths is probably the biggest fundamental difference most eroge have compared to other forms of media. If the story in an anime, manga, or book features a character you don’t like, you have to put up with it. In eroge, the player has more of a choice of who to interact with. For games that have more life or death situations, the player feels more in control of the characters’ fates.

Gameplay. At least in some games. Some people may enjoy the minigames within eroge, which other forms of media except video games can’t match. And let’s face it, it’s pretty rare for a regular video game to have a good story or good character development.

As for me, after looking through a bunch of games the last few days and thinking about what I enjoyed in the last few eroge I’ve played, the main reason I play seems to be the characters. It used to be for the story, but over the last few years, stories have impressed me less and less on their own. Without a strong cast that I like, my enjoyment of an eroge plummets. If I don’t like the characters, why should I care what happens to them?

The second major reason would be for an alternate reality. People in eroge almost always seem to have a more enjoyable life and a better group of friends. Except the ones where they’re all dying or whatever. Sucks to be them.

All the technical aspects of eroge are also important to me. I can’t imagine the genre being the same or my desire to play them to be the same if they weren’t usually present.

Being able to control the pacing of the game is also really important to me. One of the main reasons I quit watching anime (other than the fact they suck now) is that I don’t like following everything at their set pace. I like to slow down and enjoy parts I like. I like to replay scenes/voices that I like. I like being able to skip the voiced lines of characters that I don’t like (Chinami).

Have I missed anything? Agree or disagree with the reasons I listed? Why do you guys play eroge?

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3 Responses to Thoughts: Why we play eroge

  1. Micchi says:

    I think you’ve pretty much nailed it on the head. For me, characters and romance are the driving force behind my choices. Comedy and story are secondary. If I like certain characters, it makes me more interested in their story (and their ero scenes). With the whole cast being relevant to my interests (i.e. Mashifoni), it makes the whole experience even more enjoyable. That being said, there still needs to be a certain level met in terms of story and graphics for me to consider playing it.

    Alternate reality is definitely a major selling point. While I know imoutos (hell, any siblings) IRL are generally a pain, their 2D counterparts are just too adorable, probably because they’re fashioned by people’s ideals and wishes. And it’s not “loud, jealous, energetic and annoying”, it’s “loving, energetic, caring (and a little bit of jealous)”. ^^ It’s also a reason why I like stories with fantasy elements in them.

    Regarding the presentation, the two that I find the most appealing are audio and interactivity. Hearing the voices makes the story come to life. I can’t imagine playing without listening to the voices. BGMs can turn an emotional scene from good to deeply touching if used properly. And well, the choices allow me to choose the characters I like the most. It just happens that my favorite characters are almost never the ‘main heroine’. This is why eroge is a step above anime and manga.

  2. Draneor says:

    The number one reason I play visual novels is because they make me cry. After that, it’s the warm, fuzzy feelings I get from the romance. Last, but also important, is they generally have very likable characters. While I don’t mind ero, I’ve never played a game because of it.^^u

  3. Algester says:

    well for me the first thing that got me hooked to eroges was the ero content… but that was then i was still curious as the days of playing eroge go by i started to get piqued by the story, characters and music as well as the graphic content which made me like TENMON and MANYO lol and purely being the first eroge that made me understand japanese yeah

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