Otomes, or otome games, are a type of video game that is targeted toward young women. The games are typically story-based and focus on the development of a romantic relationship between the player and one of several male characters. Otomes are often compared to dating simulators, which are also targeted toward young women, but typically involve more complex gameplay mechanics.
The term otome game comes from Japanese (乙女ゲーム) (otome gēmu) and literally means "maiden game" or "girl game").
One of the key appeals of otome games is that they allow players to explore romantic relationships in a safe and controlled environment. Many otomes allow players to make choices that affect the outcome of the game, offering a degree of replayability. Additionally, otome games often feature high-quality artwork and well-written dialogue, making them a popular choice for fans of visual novels and anime.
Despite their growing popularity, otome games are often dismissed as being shallow and catering to a niche audience. Some critics argue that the games reinforce traditional gender roles and present a limited view of romance. Others claim that the games can be addictive and promote unhealthy relationships.
Despite these criticisms, otome games continue to be a popular genre with a large and dedicated fanbase. Many developers are now catering to fans of LGBT+ romance, offering games with diverse and inclusive casts. As the genre continues to grow, it is likely that otome games will become even more popular and diverse.
History of otome games
Angelique is for Everyone is the first otome game in history, and was released on September 23, 1994 by video game developer Koei for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game is based on being a 17-year-old girl named Angelique Limoges who has been chosen to be one of two candidates to be the new queen to rule a universe. The player will have to compete against her rival by populating an assigned land as quickly as possible with the help of her new guardians. However, throughout the game Angelique can fall in love with one of her guardians and choose not to be queen in exchange for living happily with her beloved.
This title will be the beginning of the Angelique saga whose last title is "Angelique Luminarise" published on May 20, 2021, and that in 2020, adding the sales of all the titles, has exceeded 850,000 units sold.
The second otome game was "Albaria no Otome", released on June 27, 1997 by developers Gimmick House and Magical Craft for the PC-FX platform, and shortly after on October 8, 1998 a PlayStation version called " Albaria no Otome: Beautiful Paladins". This game is quite similar in plot to Angelique. The player is Ashanty, a young woman who can become the new sacred protector of the kingdom of Albaria, or choose to conquer one of the knights and be his wife.
These first three otome games can also be considered Love simulation game, sharing the characteristics of the two video game genres.
Since then, the otome genre has exploded in popularity, with new games being released regularly for a variety of gaming platforms.