Category Archives: READ.ME

Articles republished from Games Are Evil’s “READ.ME” column, which ran from 2012-2013 and focused exclusively on visual novels.

From the Archives: Make Some Time for Magical Diary

You know how every so often you take a look at your Steam library and start to feel guilty about games you purchased because they sounded like just your sort of thing, but then you never got around to playing them?

Well, that was the thought that was going through my mind when I decided to finally fire up Magical Diary, a game I’ve owned for well over a year [at the time of original writing – Ed.] but which I was yet to try.

Magical Diary, if you’re unfamiliar, is a visual novel by Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar. Despite the distinctly Japanese-style presentation, it’s actually a Western-developed game — Hanako Games’ founder Georgina Bensley has long been a big fan of anime, and this influence clearly and obviously shows through both in Magical Diary and her other games, all of which are marketed as “girl-friendly.”

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Make Some Time for Magical Diary

From the Archives: On the “Idiocy” of Interactive Storytelling

Back at the end of November 2012, this article appeared over on community-led games writing site Bitmob (now folded into VentureBeat’s GamesBeat).

For those too lazy to follow the link and/or read the article, the gist is as follows: Shawn McGrath, creator of the psychedelic abstract shooter Dyad for PlayStation 3, made some rather bold proclamations on how inappropriate he thought video games were as a medium for telling stories.

Specifically, he noted that “linear story and interactive anything are diametrically opposed,” that they “make no sense together at all” and that “any attempt to put storylines in games in any traditional sense is completely idiotic.”

Strong words indeed. So what was his justification for this?

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: On the “Idiocy” of Interactive Storytelling

From the Archives: It’s Not What It Looks Like

The discerning visual novel fan who decides to “go public” with his or her love for the medium faces a challenge that you tend not to encounter in the more “mainstream” parts of gaming — the gaming equivalent of the “I read it for the articles” conversation.

Allow me to share an actual exchange I had on Steam when I first fired up my copy of Private Nurse, an excellent visual novel from AngelSmile that we’ll get on to in just a moment. (Full names have been removed to protect the unenlightened. And yes, I deliberately add all the VNs I play to Steam specifically to provoke conversations like this.)

A: Private Nurse? What is that, some Japanese nurse fetish thing?
me: Yes, it is Japanese 🙂 It’s a visual novel.
A: OMG I KNEW IT
A: nuuuuuuuuurrrrrse feeeeeetiiiiiiiish

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: It’s Not What It Looks Like

From the Archives: A Fine Romance

The terms “visual novel” and “dating sim” are used somewhat interchangeably in the West — even by those who publish them — but in actuality, this isn’t particularly accurate.

Visual novels often involve romantic and/or sexual relationships as a key part of their narrative, sure, and dating sims involve a lot of reading text and making choices — but it’s in terms of overall structure that they differ quite significantly from one another.

Specifically, in a dating sim, you’re often given a lot more freedom in terms of how to pursue the your dream partner — and a consequent greater potential to mess things up entirely — whereas in a visual novel, you’re typically following a more clearly-defined, linear narrative.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: A Fine Romance

From the Archives: Culture Shock

One of the things video games are particularly good at as an entire medium is allowing you to immerse yourself in… things.

Exactly what you’re able to immerse yourself in depends entirely on the game — in Microsoft Flight Simulator you can immerse yourself in a realistic depiction of what it is like to fly a real aircraft, for example, while in Xenoblade Chronicles you can immerse yourself in a well-realized fantasy world.

One interesting possibility that this immersiveness allows for is the ability to “live” in another culture. For Westerners, it’s particularly intriguing to be able to immerse oneself into Japanese culture, for example, which is in many ways rather alien to the societal norms we see in America and Europe. Of course, said societal norms vary even between America and Europe, but not quite so drastically as the divergence in culture between “East” and “West.”

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Culture Shock

From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal’s World Made of Words

I’m an RPG fan, and yet I typically find myself drawn to more linear experiences rather than open-world affairs.

Specifically, I often find that the richly-detailed worlds of titles like Skyrim leave me cold due to their lack of “personality”, for want of a better word — they may be beautiful to look at and packed with things to do, but there’s no emotional connection there.

I’d like to expand on this a little for this week’s READ.ME column, with particular regard to Aselia the Eternal, which we last looked at a couple of weeks ago.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Aselia the Eternal’s World Made of Words