Visual novel

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Faux menu page from a proposed spanking game.

A visual novel (ビジュアルノベル bijuaru noberu) is a type of Japanese video game centered on romantic interactions with attractive young girls (bishōjo; 美少女). These games are a subgenre of dating sims, similar to Choose Your Own Adventure books in the way of narrative, in which the game tells a story but the player may make choices to change how the story flows. Featuring text-based stories with interactive elements, most visual novels employ anime-style art and (occasionally) three dimensional animated footage.

General history[edit]

Edited screencap from Tenshitachi no gogo (1985).

Dating sims began to appear in Japan in the early days of personal computers. One of the first games to hit the Japanese market was Night Life by Koei (1982). The first visual novels were none too popular, being limited to 16 color graphics. At the inception of the genre, almost all the games were pornographic.

A notable landmark was Jast's Tenshitachi no gogo (1985), a precursor to the modern dating simulation. Among early visual novels, it had a degree of polish that previous games lacked. It was also the first to have recognizably modern anime-style artwork: its characters had very large eyes and a tiny nose and mouth but were otherwise basically normally proportioned, characteristics which today are found in virtually all forms of Japanese animated media.

By the beginning of the 1990s, the industry had moved away from proprietary Japanese hardware to the burgeoning DOS platform, and then later in the decade to Windows. From that point on, dating sims (and computer games in general) underwent a technological revolution as the market expanded beyond East Asia. With the advent of the world wide web, Japanese popular culture gained widespread popularity in Europe and America, spurred on to some degree by the rise of the so-called "otaku" community.

Throughout the 2000s, the VN industry resisted the transition into 3D graphics due to the blocky and distorted nature when viewed in extreme close up. In 2001 Tokimeki Memorial 3 became one of the first to break this trend. However, low sales make it likely that other companies will stick with the traditional 2D graphics. In the present day, most publishers making releases for Windows, including download-only files.

Game engines[edit]

Ren'Py, a popular Japanese game engine.

As spanking scenes are comparatively rare in mainstream visual novels, corporal imagery is largely the purview of amateur game makers. A number of spanking-themed VNs have been proposed through online communities such as AOTK and Newgrounds, with actual production meeting with varying levels of success. Many were text-based interactive games supported by minimal graphics; a few of the more ambitious projects utilized high resolution images and animated sequences. Throughout the early 2000s, Adobe Flash was the most common gaming platform within the online spanking community (see Spanking in Flash games). After the software was superceded by HTML5, Flash began to fall out of favor with game makers and enthusiasts.

One of the more popular game engines to emerge in recent years is Ren'Py (レンパイ). Originating in Japan during the late 1990s, Ren'Py includes the ability to create branching stories, complete with scene transitions, full-screen movies and animated sprites. Designed specifically for visual narratives and graphic storytelling, the format allows the player to interact with various characters from either first-person or third-person perspectives. This versatility of gameplay has contributed to its overwhelming popularity in Japan and its increasingly high profile in the West.

Gameplay[edit]

Typical scenario featuring a mother/daughter pairing.

When the main storyline revolves around corporal punishment, the user can theoretically assume any role within the narrative structure. Typical scenarios might cover a range of pairings: parent/child, teacher/student, doctor/patient etc etc. As a general rule, submissive characters attempt to evade punishment for perceived misconduct; this may expressed in the form of begging, pleading or bargaining.

Additional options include a "disrobing" function, in which a female character is forced to remove an item of clothing or take down her panties. The scene could end with the character completely naked in anticipation of her upcoming discipline (this was, in fact, the premise of a large number of spanking-themed flash games of the early 2000s).

A well-designed game might offer the player several choices in positions and implements - OTK with brush, supine with belt, jack-knife with strap and so on. Sound effects, animation and high-resolution illustrations could be used to enhance gameplay. In the present day, 3D models and backgrounds may be imported onto the game stage, allowing for hyper-realistic rendering and figurework.

See also[edit]

Wikipedia articles[edit]