Broad Case Study – Visual Novels

Visual novels are an emerging media format. They sparked into prominence as the go to way to write eroge manga as the immersive elements of a game format gelled with with the eroticist effects the pieces were aiming for. As this trend flowed on, the range of topics covered grew, and while it is definitely very easy to find eroge Visual Novels, they are now a much broader medium of storytelling.

As with any immersive gaming experience, there are elements of RPG-ness to them, so I will be exploring if we can call a visual novel a JRPG.

Aswith any RPG game, there is the concept of perspective and in my experience with Visual Novels they are usually froma  first person perspective of one of the characters that interacts with the world and people around them. If we accept the loose definition on a video game as being an electronic interactive experience, coupled with this role play element, we can identify that it is possible for some, if not all visual novels to be RPGs. The issue I have with this academic response is that I view my time with visual novels as akin to reading a book as that is how most of the dialogue is presented, and I wouldn’t consider a book to be a game.

Personal issues aside, I thinkt hat one of the most interesting aspects of this case study is that if we take the premise that visual novels are RPGs, they become very strong candidates for JRPGs not made in Japan. As a result oft he source material and intertexual links to Japanese manga, the resultings tories use similar settings, and as a format with nothing but storytelling lends itself to the JRPG archetype. This results in similarities between the aim and stylings, however the gameplay is where I draw issue.

Gameplay in a visual novel, fromm y experience fits intot he choose your own adventure archetype. This is a common gameplay element for Western RPGs that focus on immersion through choice. The Japanese approach is, as referenced in my previous post, about the story of a predetermined character.

This minor scrutiny in the argument for visual novels as JRPG comes down to definition. Academically, if visual novels have gameplay, they should be able to be JRPGs, especially in the case of manga adaptions, however as this is autoethnographic, I will tell you that my view is that I don’t think visual novels are there yet, and if they get there, it would require some more gameplay for me to call one, even a Japanese one, a JRPG.

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