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a way to make visual novels more popular in the west


Lumaria
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I think i have a really good way visual novels can be really popular in the west. and I mean immediately popular. My thoughts will be posted as I think, so I will organize my thoughts.

 

And I believe it needs to be addressed sooner than people realize. Right now, visual novels have a huge stigma. Most of them I fully agree. 

 

#1) they are too anime and manga like. 

 

#2) they focus on romance or harems. 

 

#3) less interactive and too many tropes. 

#4) boring characters/story.

Personally all these point to one thing: visual novels are far far too enclosed  in a specific culture. I know there are plenty of games. VNs referred to otome and bishounen and even bishoujo. 

 

Look up visual novels in the play/app store and you don't find many VNs that are particularly unique. 

 

And just how I believe visual novels have one distinct problem that branches out to minor problems, I believe visual novels can be solved with just one idea that can solve all the others. 

 

Answer: make visual novels meant for people who don't play visual novels. 

 

Even games like Hatoful boyfriend and danganropa who try to mix up the VN genre, they are still designed for people who play VNs.

 

Visual novels don't have to resemble anime/manga. To appeal to Westerners I believe they need to walk into the idea of visual novels and not the idea of visual novels the fans already implanted. 

here is me oversimplifying visual novels: visual and novel. A visual novel is essentially a story that is presented visually and provides choices for the player. So visual novels has to be visually appealing and feel like a really great novel in order to be successful. Like I said, It doesn't have to resemble anime/manga. it doesn't have to follow the tropes or such as otome, or bishounen/bishoujou. Remember, visual novels do get judged by their cover.

 

There is one thing that visual novels have continuously done that makes it harder to get into, especially for the west. They are simply not approachable.they don't appeal to the every day person (key note, person, not gamer, or anime fan). 

 

So how do they become more approachable? First, artstyle. Not every one enjoys the anime manga art style as much as the others. It actually detracts in some cases. When you see a character revealing Their most inner thoughts to the player but the story doesn't mesh well with the story. Here is where more universal (yet well drawn) artstyle benefits everyone. 

 

Second, and probably most importantly, characters. I noticed something with visual novels. They start off heavily slow. I rarely played visual novel that immediately grabbed my interest. it was always a gamble. Most likely because most people use the beginning for exposition. It becomes a tutorial.And I have to wait for the good part.

 

Visual novels especially need to have some character development. Something that implants players "I want to get to know who this character is". when do you personally feel so invested in a character immediately? 

and lastly, visual novels story needs to be engaging. Especially since it relies on player choice. What they say, where they walked, and who they trust. I've played visual novels that don't have strong options. I ultimately see one or two options that are really worked well but the last ones are there as a joke. I also see only one really great ending and the optional endings aren't that strong.

Here are some ideas that I have that could be great visual novels:

 

idea 1) A woman is framed for murder. She runs away but wants to find who the person framed her. She has to trust the right people, be in the right places and find the right evidence. Romance exist but is ultimately secondary. if push comes to shove she also has to kill/hurt the right people in order to survive.

(Very reminiscent of Phoenix Wright Attorney at Law, but with a more hands on approach.

idea 2) A young wo/man has to decide what his extra curriculars are in the beginning of the school year. Before deciding, s/he meets specific people who entice the player. Choosing the extra curricular will define the story with it's own unique problems,  drama, and even how you meet characters and completely different goals. 

 

(This one sounds completely typical but with a full western approach can probably gain a distinct following)

 

Idea #3) anything resembling Donnie Darko where a mysterious force follows and feeds clues and also gives you the freedom to find your own answer. (This builds mystery and enticing players to look for answers.)

 

But how to realistically make VNs more popular in the west in the immediate future? Actively make a campaign about it. Openly tell everyone you are making a VN that is meant for them. 

 

But not just any campaigns, an organized one  and look for feedback, those who don't want to play  visual novels. You'd be surprised how people want to play VNs, just not the VNs out there. 

 

 

 

 

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But why do we want to change what a VN is? We like VN's because of the way they are, why dilute it and make it something else so that everyone can like it.

My question is, do VN's need a larger user base?

Edit: I don't even like H-scenes and prefer all ages versions, and that's what most people think of when they hear "visual novel".

 

Edited by kingdomcome
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I agree with a lot of what you are saying. It is certainly true that VNs will only become more popular if people stop making them for the niche audience that is already into them. The Japanese market has already dug itself into a hole and is stained with a reputation that is off putting to non-otaku (i.e. it is strongly associated with moe and hentai subculture). In my view, the Japanese industry is a lost cause. What pisses me off though, is how OELVN authors copy the shitty tropes that Japanese VNs do, thinking that is what VN players want! Its fucking stupid. The English VN market doesn't have the same constrictions that the Japanese one does, so there is no need to limit yourself to the tropes in Japanese ones (like always being in a fucking high school!!!!). 

The OELVN market has far more potential for creative expression, but few are taking advantage of that potential. Maybe when I'm out of college I'll take that ambitious step forward, but for now I can only commentate on the issue as opposed to actually contributing (by making my own VN). 

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I agree.

But the VN community likes them the way they currently are.

Fighting here for "making Vn's popular in the west" is a lost cause. A brave attempt though.

This is but another western VN community. Most people here don't want the genre becoming mainstream.

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You have some interesting points. But like the people above has stated, we aren't really looking to get VNs changed all together. We love them the way they are now. If getting more VNs to the west means changing what a VN is, I would rather just read untranslated VNs :P

 

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3 hours ago, kingdomcome said:

But why do we want to change what a VN is? We like VN's because of the way they are, why dilute it and make it something else so that everyone can like it.

My question is, do VN's need a larger user base?

Yes, VNs absolutely need a larger more diverse user base. I fully 100% believe that.

I see a community so hard wired into what they like, they are willing to kick out or push away  anything that is different because they are threatened by an idea that is very promising. They don't even give any real feedback as to why this would be bad. 

But here's a misconception: not here to change what a VN. You just think that's what makes a VN. When it doesn't. You may like VNs for what they are now but by definition, a VN has potential to be more. And it's sad...

 

3 hours ago, Zalor said:

I agree with a lot of what you are saying. It is certainly true that VNs will only become more popular if people stop making them for the niche audience that is already into them. The Japanese market has already dug itself into a hole and is stained with a reputation that is off putting to non-otaku (i.e. it is strongly associated with moe and hentai subculture). In my view, the Japanese industry is a lost cause. What pisses me off though, is how OELVN authors copy the shitty tropes that Japanese VNs do, thinking that is what VN players want! Its fucking stupid. The English VN market doesn't have the same constrictions that the Japanese one does, so there is no need to limit yourself to the tropes in Japanese ones (like always being in a fucking high school!!!!). 

The OELVN market has far more potential for creative expression, but few are taking advantage of that potential. Maybe when I'm out of college I'll take that ambitious step forward, but for now I can only commentate on the issue as opposed to actually contributing (by making my own VN). 

I agree...visual novels have the potential to express unique story, characters, and stressful decision making that generally makes the genre entertaining. 

But there is a bigger underlying issue. The fact that we call them OELVNs in similar style of OEL manga. Its just not the same.

2 hours ago, Stormwolf said:

Since vn's will be mostly targeted towards younger people, i think the biggest problem is getting youngsters interested in reading. It will always be a relatively small market here i believe.

I think reading isn't a problem. players especially in RPG read all the time. But I agree, visual novels will always be a small market. But I don't think it should be dominated by just one culture.

2 hours ago, maefdomn said:

I agree.

But the VN community likes them the way they currently are.

Fighting here for "making Vn's popular in the west" is a lost cause. A brave attempt though.

This is but another western VN community. Most people here don't want the genre becoming mainstream.

Its not about making it mainstream. The way VNs are designed, they  will always be minority. But, at the moment it is a controlled culture. People don't play a VN for what defines a VN. They play for everything a VN isn't (by definition). 

1 hour ago, Dergonu said:

You have some interesting points. But like the people above has stated, we aren't really looking to get VNs changed all together. We love them the way they are now. If getting more VNs to the west means changing what a VN is, I would rather just read untranslated VNs :P

 

Why are you all so threatened by the idea of having different types of VN or more importantly VNs that fit the definition far better than the games you call a VN? I get it, you like the VNs you play. But I've never seen a community so determined NOT to innovate. 

 

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12 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

Why are you all so threatened by the idea of having different types of VN or more importantly VNs that fit the definition far better than the games you call a VN? I get it, you like the VNs you play. But I've never seen a community so determined NOT to innovate. 

 

Well, what I said was that I don´t want the genre I know as visual novels to be changed drastically in order to make it appeal to a different demographic. Why should I want that? I want VNs, like they are now, to become popular in the west. That´s the point. 

"The games I call VNs" is what I love. I don´t want something different. Shouldn't that be fairly obvious? 

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1 minute ago, Dergonu said:

Well, what I said was that I don´t want the genre I know as visual novels to be changed drastically in order to make it appeal to a different demographic. Why should I want that? I want VNs, like they are now, to become popular in the west. That´s the point. 

"The games I call VNs" is what I love. I don´t want something different. Shouldn't that be fairly obvious? 

So should VNs be only targetted to your tastes because that's what you define as a VN despite not actually being the major definition of a VN?

 

 

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Just now, Lumaria said:

So should VNs be only targetted to your tastes because that's what you define as a VN despite not actually being the major definition of a VN?

 

 

No and thats not what I said either :P 

Like I said in my original post, I like your ideas, but you are too dead set on changing everything about what makes a VN a VN. 

"They are too anime like."

Most if not all VNs use art like this. You are suggesting literally changing the essence of the game with such statements, which just defeats the point of bringing such VNs to the west, as they would be something different entirely. Thats my point ;) 

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The dilemma is that the existing market exists, in great part, due to VNs being so embedded in the culture in the first place- That means it's always a risky move to have a different culture's approach to VNs since it's more difficult to attract an audience from the market.

Personally, I'd like to see other cultures' renditions on VNs. That said, it's an incredibly young medium so I think it'll need to mature and expand a bit before the bulk of well-known VNs is not moege/nukige but actually good stories.  I'm also fine with the culture not expanding too much- As long as we're still getting varied and interesting VNs, I'm fine. It's enjoyable, being part of a small clique like the VN community at large. 

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24 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

No and thats not what I said either :P 

Like I said in my original post, I like your ideas, but you are too dead set on changing everything about what makes a VN a VN. 

"They are too anime like."

Most if not all VNs use art like this. You are suggesting literally changing the essence of the game with such statements, which just defeats the point of bringing such VNs to the west, as they would be something different entirely. Thats my point ;) 

No. You did say it. You might have not thought it through. But you definitely said it. 

You see, what you are confusing is the culture of VNs vs what essentially makes a VN.

If bringing VNs to the west and making them more popular needs to come with the otaku-japanophile culture, then you don't truly want VNs to be popular in the west. You like the idea, but you don't want it.

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1 minute ago, Lumaria said:

No. You did say it. You might have not thought it through. But you definitely said it. 

You see, what you are confusing is the culture of VNs vs what essentially makes a VN.

If bringing VNs to the west and making them more popular needs to come with the otaku-japanophile culture, then you don't truly want VNs to be popular in the west. You like the idea, but you don't want it.

You are twisting my words here mate. But I´m not going to argue with you. You are too defensive and won't listen to what I´m actually saying. Just re-read it again and hopefully my point will get through. :sachi: 

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6 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

You are twisting my words here mate. But I´m not going to argue with you. You are too defensive and won't listen to what I´m actually saying. Just re-read it again and hopefully my point will get through. :sachi: 

Im not twisting anything. 

 

your first comment: you don't want VNs to change because you like them the way they are. 

 

Your second comment which was a response as "why so defensive over different types of VN": you essentially said you liked them the way they are and it defeats the purpose of making VN more popular if they don't fit the style they have now. 

 

Your third comment which was a response to "so VNs should ony fit your tastes". You said you didn't. You accuse me being dead set of changing what makes a VN a VN which the only point you have  is artstyle. 

 

You never bring up a point as to what I proposed contradicts what makes a VN. You not once defined VN. But you constantly say "I'm changing VNs"

 

 

 

I get defensive because you  say what im proposing is essentially changing what makes a VN. 

 

Which to me is ignorance. VN is defined by their structure, not their art style. So long as they have text, dialogue, branching stories, and options for the player to choose from, you don't have to worry about what makes a VN. 

 

Everything I proposed has to do with VN. I dare say that it wants to focus on what really makes a VN. 

 

The problem is that you can't distinguish between what makes a VN by definition over what makes VN popular among the niche community. To you Japanese art style in VN is what makes a VN. THAT IS IGNORANCE.

 

And I feel sorry for anyone who believes that VNs can't have diversity.

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24 minutes ago, Funyarinpa said:

The dilemma is that the existing market exists, in great part, due to VNs being so embedded in the culture in the first place- That means it's always a risky move to have a different culture's approach to VNs since it's more difficult to attract an audience from the market.

I quite agree with you on that last sentence.

 

So, if Westerners start to play their very first VN, is there a confirmation that they will like it? Will they accept the VN culture into their life? Who knows, maybe they'll say "Man, this is boring. All read and no gameplay?" or maybe "Wow, I like this VN. I want to read more of these VNs!".

 

So, all in all, it depends on the person. If the person really does like to play VNs, then he will. If the person doesn't, then he wont. The Fuwans here mostly play VNs because Fuwans accepted the VN culture into their life.

This is my opinion about people and VNs.

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1 minute ago, ヤミハナ said:

I quite agree with you on that last sentence.

 

So, if Westerners start to play their very first VN, is there a confirmation that they will like it? Will they accept the VN culture into their life? Who knows, maybe they'll say "Man, this is boring. All read and no gameplay?" or maybe "Wow, I like this VN. I want to read more of these VNs!".

 

So, all in all, it depends on the person. If the person really does like to play VNs, then he will. If the person doesn't, then he wont. The Fuwans here mostly play VNs because Fuwans accepted the VN culture into their life.

This is my opinion about people and VNs.

And that's unfortunate. There is a metaphorical gateway that people have to cross ad they have to like it before they can try. 

 

But VNs don't have to be too enclosed into one culture. Nothing bout VN says they have to be primarily Japanese. 

 

examples this culture is what fans created, that doesn't mean new cultures within the VN medium can't exist. 

 

There is a clear opportunity to do something realistic and achievable but the community doesn't fully accept it because it not only challenges our tastes but our views. 

 

No one answers the grittier questions that I been asking. what about my analysis actually hinders VN ? Where in my comment does it ruin VNs?

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3 hours ago, Lumaria said:

And I feel sorry for anyone who believes that VNs can't have diversity.

Actually, can I present to you: "The Seed": https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/989416433/the-seed-0/description

I really don't know why this hasn't been discussed on the forums at all. This is a completely different take on a VN, from an Eastern European developer.

I invite diversity, and each culture should do their VN's in their own way. Besides Katawa Shoujo I don't really know of a good OELVN.

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Every developer has their own way of creating VN though, and it depends on them what type of market they're targeting. It is like you live in your country, you want to write a fictional book about your country, and you hope that your countrymen will buy it, and whether everyone would buy your book or not is another question. Then someone from another country wants to read it, but he doesn't understand it, so he either learn the language or get someone to translate it. Then he says this country's fictional book is awesome. 

The reader then, asks you to write a fictional book about the reader's country and its culture. But you have a very vague image of it, so you don't even bother to write one, as long your books are appealing to your countrymen. In other words, for the fictional book to has a diversity, it must be made by someone who understand the culture itself, not by forcing foreign writers to understand it and write it for the reader. And not everyone will read that fictional book, especially someone who doesn't like reading itself. 

So if you want to make a VN of specific culture, why not gather everyone of same interest and make one? Even a locally produced VN of my country won't always get popular to VN readers in my country, despite heavily portraying my country's culture. The VN is what the VN is. People who likes VN also has their own taste, but not every VN can sate it. And people who doesn't even like VN wouldn't be bothered if the VN is portraying their culture or not. 

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7 minutes ago, ヤミハナ said:

I quite agree with you on that last sentence.

 

So, if Westerners start to play their very first VN, is there a confirmation that they will like it? Will they accept the VN culture into their life? 

 

People who would disagree are NOT a part of the VN market. Non-Japanese focused VNs simply aren't a thing. Setting those people as your target audience means you're targeting people that are NOT a part of the market, which means you'll have a very, very, VERY difficult time while trying to generate anticipation for your product. That's why non-Japanese VNs have such a hard time.

 

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2 minutes ago, kingdomcome said:

Actually, can I present to you: "The Seed": https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/989416433/the-seed-0/description

I really don't know why this hasn't been discussed on the forums at all. This is a completely different take on a VN, from an Eastern European developer.

I invite diversity, and each culture should do their VN in their own way. Besides Katawa Shoujo I don't really know of a good OELVN.

The Seed is a great example of diverse Visual Novel. It actually looks better in video than in concept art. 

 

But if you welcome diversity why gang up in the beginning? Why so against it? I'm hear to change perspective, not tastes. That means otome games bishonen bishojo harem, school days games can still exist. But I think they can Co exist.

 

Just now, gijimu said:

Every developer has their own of creating VN though, and it depends on them what type of market they're targeting. It is like you live in your country, you want to write a fictional book about your country, and you hope that your countrymen will buy it, and whether everyone would buy your book or not is another question. Then someone from another country wants to read it, but he doesn't understand it, so he either learn the language or get someone to translate it. Then he says this country's fictional book is awesome. 

The reader then, asks you to write a fictional book about the reader's country and its culture. But you have a very vague image of it, so you don't even bother to write one, as long your books are appealing to your countrymen. In other words, for the fictional book to has a diversity, it must be made by someone who understand the culture itself, not by forcing foreign writers to understand it and write it for the reader. And not everyone will read that fictional book, especially someone who doesn't like reading itself. 

So if you want to make a VN of specific culture, why not gather everyone of same interest and make one? Even a locally produced VN of my country won't always get popular to VN readers in my country, despite heavily portraying my country's culture. The VN is what the VN is. People who likes VN also has their own taste, but not every VN can sate it. And people who doesn't even like VN wouldn't be bothered if the VN is portraying their culture or not. 

Because I believe there are VN fans out here and don't Even know they are because the barrier is having almost exclusive Japanese art style with genres. 

Look at appstore and see if you can find a unique VN not about romance or harems? look at siliconera where VNs just don't stick out.

If we gear for more universal tastes. People can become fans. 

1 minute ago, Funyarinpa said:

People who would disagree are NOT a part of the VN market. Non-Japanese focused VNs simply aren't a thing. Setting those people as your target audience means you're targeting people that are NOT a part of the market, which means you'll have a very, very, VERY difficult time while trying to generate anticipation for your product. That's why non-Japanese VNs have such a hard time.

 

I think many of reasons why certain Kick starter campaigned become successful is because they want to create something that should've existed by now but hasn't. The Seed may not have that slogan, but there are plenty of visual novel making software out there. Start off as a hobby, post it in these kind of communities, create the market before it's even there, and when you aim for profit you will be fine. 

 

Also look into Google play store  and Apple App store. very realistic places to start because. 

 

Just informing people on what VNs are now and how they can be better (even if they never had interests of VNs before) will be mildly interested in the sales pitch.

 

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6 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

The Seed is a great example of diverse Visual Novel. It actually looks better in video than in concept art. 

 

But if you welcome diversity why gang up in the beginning? Why so against it? I'm hear to change perspective, not tastes. That means otome games bishonen bishojo harem, school days games can still exist. But I think they can Co exist.

But that's the thing.. I think there is diversity among VN's.

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3 hours ago, Dergonu said:

You have some interesting points. But like the people above has stated, we aren't really looking to get VNs changed all together. We love them the way they are now. If getting more VNs to the west means changing what a VN is, I would rather just read untranslated VNs :P

 

Indeed you do have some good points but i also agree with the guys before me who stated points similar to this ^, to me changing What and how Vn's are would defeat the purpouse of expanding their range..the idea is to appeal to more people but not by sacrificing what the product itself is like but rather by opening people up to them and trying to supress the missconceptions and prejudices they may have towards them.

There's nothing wrong with appealing to a wider audience though but changing how and what Vn's are isn't really the way, in my opinion at least

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13 minutes ago, kingdomcome said:

But that's the thing.. I think there is diversity among VN's.

Enough to break the stereotypes? Most that do still targeted toward the stereotypes. Like hatoful boyfriend which is one big sarcastic VN.

 

Why didn't you say that before? I feel like people starting to put their thinking caps on and maybe don't see anything wrong.

 

10 minutes ago, DarkZedge said:

Indeed you do have some good points but i also agree with the guys before me who stated points similar to this ^, to me changing What and how Vn's are would defeat the purpouse of expanding their range..the idea is to appeal to more people but not by sacrificing what the product itself is like but rather by opening people up to them and trying to supress the missconceptions and prejudices they may have towards them.

There's nothing wrong with appealing to a wider audience though but changing how and what Vn's are isn't really the way, in my opinion at least

but no one answers the damn question. 

Is what I'm proposing fundamentally changing everything that makes a VN a VN or is it only changing the culture behind it? 

 

People say the problem is how and what VNs are. Which VNs are basically a genre in video games. They are interactive, branching story lines, and provided with player choice with visuals such as characters and backgrounds. 

 

That is a VN in a nutshell. I have not proposed anything that changes that. What people don't want to admit is that it's the culture of VNs and try to justify it by making one believe that the culture of VN and what physically makes a VN are the same thing.

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25 minutes ago, Lumaria said:

Because I believe there are VN fans out here and don't Even know they are because the barrier is having almost exclusive Japanese art style with genres. 

Look at appstore and see if you can find a unique VN not about romance or harems? look at siliconera where VNs just don't stick out.

If we gear for more universal tastes. People can become fans. 

Well VN has potentials, but in my opinion, it depends on whether the people like reading or not, not because of art style thing. Japanese art style is very well known around the world that it's hard to find people who doesn't like it.

For me, romance, action, drama, and mystery are universal genre that most people like. There is no more universal genre than them. 

The conclusion is, it's back to people, whether they want to read VN or not, and thinking that people don't read VN because it is not appealing to them is wrong. It is like forcing someone who doesn't like racing game to play racing game. And your opinion sounds like "we have to change racing game so it can appeal to people who doesn't like racing game" to me. 

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I'm not sure if this has been mentioned before if it has I apologize. But isn't one of the main reasons that VNs has a poor reputation because people relates the artstyle to "manga/anime= perverted stuff" which in turn drives some people away. Also VNs isn't a genre that a lot of people would enjoy. It's a lot of reading and no visual "action", VNs gives the reader emotions trough pictures and music. And they requires a lot of patience which can be a turn off for younger audiences. YouTube isn't really helping either with videos of famous youtubers playing VNs like Sakura Santa (Nerdcubeds video on Sakura santa.) which isn't really the best VN to represents all VNs out there. Which can make people think "VNs are peverted!!!" And instantly assume that every VN is like SSanta.

 

One thing that could really help VNs would be either a giant youtuber cover a VN like G-senjou or Clannad which doesn't have any real fanservice and acknowledging that it's great. It might not be enough but it would help. Or that a big company like Bethseda, Bioware etc makes a VN. This is highly unlikely but could be good for VNs. 

 

I'm one that wants VN to be fairly popular but I don't really want to change the VNs that I love so they can appeal to a bigger audience. If that's the case the I would rather have them stay a niche genre.         

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