Forget romance novels. “Otome” romance videogames are huge among young women in Japan. The games sound like a strange mashup of familiar interactive media, kind of like The Sims meets Farmville meets Choose Your Own Adventure books:
Gamers can choose scenarios from a house full of overprivileged teens or a civil-war setting — and then choose a boyfriend. Examples of available careers for said boyfriends are butler, attractive millionaire, or samurai. And achieving different levels can be as compelling as any regular videogame. Reports the Economic Times:
[Young Japanese woman Takako] Suzuki, who says she once played 10 different titles concurrently, buys credit from Gree Inc. to pamper her avatar with virtual clothes or shoes and purchase tickets for additional game chapters.
The category is quickly becoming lucrative. The market for games targeted to women in Japan could hit $261 million (20 billion yen) in five years, compared with 6 billion yet last year.
“Developers must target women to expand their market instead of only focusing on men,” said Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute Inc. in Tokyo. “Dating games became a blockbuster category among women because characters in those games give them what they want from men in the real world.”
Well, it can’t be easy for real-world single men to trump a sexy samurai or, for that matter, a butler catering to a woman’s every whim. But before analysts read too far into the phenomon, one young Japanese woman paints this picture of her reasons for playing:
“When I wake up in the morning, I play these games for a while before I really get up,” said Suzuki, 28, an office worker. “I need to play otome games because I’m so stressed out by my nagging boss at work.”
It think men and women can relate to that.
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