Firstly, by “Hot” I mean purely in the Mcluhanistic sense of the word. Though I think we all acknowledge that VNs can be a very “hot” medium in the erotic sense as well. But seriously speaking, VNs are a hot, highly intensive medium; and this is precisely why I see so much artistic potential in them even if relatively few as of yet have fully capitalized on this potential.
To provide a brief definition of hot and cold media I think the simplest explanation is the more immersive a medium is the more hot it is. The less immersive, and the more causal the experience of it is, the more cool it is. Reality TV is probably the best example of cold media. You can enjoy an episode of Terrace House or Jersery Shore or whatever (insert reality TV show) while paying relatively little attention to it. In fact dumb television's appeal is precisely because you can passively enjoy it while watching it with friends and family. Honestly this is why I think most Japanese TV (I'm intentionally exuding anime here) is so bad, but that's probably a rant for another time.
Hotter media require more focus and attention from the participant. The best example of this would be literature. While reading a book, you need to pay sole focus to the words. And so this involves a hyper concentration. Hence it is high intensity, thus hot (seriously I didn't come up with these terms, famed academic Marshal Mcluhan did half a century ago).
So then why do I do think, and more importantly why do I boldly claim that VNs are fundamentally a hot medium. Well, because for the best VNs and and the most memorable experiences VNs induce, we are highly involved in the moment. Practically there ourselves. And this is because the combination of text, audio, and visuals create a sensory experience which practically places us in the fictional scenes that are being depicted. It's the same reason why Lets Plays of Visual Novels just don't feel right to most VN fans. At least not as a first time experience to a particular VN. Because the first time you experience a particular VN it is a deeply intimate experience.
I mean sure there are kusuge which are probably more fun to play with friends or in a live stream then they are to read individually. But then again they are called kusuge for a reason. Precisely because they aren't good, and more specifically don't conform to the medium's strengths.
So where am I going with this? I don't exactly know. Maybe to start a discussion about VNs as a medium of their own; which I think they are. That is to say I think they exist in a separate category from video games. Though I acknowledge there can be VNs with gameplay. I think a “VN with gameplay” is very different from a “game”. And I suspect most gamers would also agree.
Anyway, its in my nature to make bold claims when I believe something. But if you disagree with me I'd be happy to discuss it with you. More then anything I like to create conversation about concepts which interest me. And if you agree with me, well I'll be happy to know I'm not alone.