An otome game is a video game targeted towards the female demographic
, and is almost exclusively developed and released in Japan
. In order to be considered an otome game, the game must feature a female protagonist
and several male characters to pursue and develop romantic
relationships with. Because of this, the genre tends to include mostly visual novels
and dating sims. Some otome games may have elements of boys' love
; however, the genres are usually kept separate. Strong sexual content is scarce as well, as most otome games are targeted towards the teenage demographic. There are, however, a few exceptions out there, such as Dessert Love and the Under the Moon
series. The genre is also referred to as GxB (Girl x Boy) by some Western fans.
With the coming of Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side
in 2002--which brought forth many new fans of the genre--popularity has been steadily increasing. In 2006, Famitsu's Top 20 list of romance games included a total of 7 otome games. However, these stats only apply to Japan, and otome game popularity has not even come close to this in Western countries, where visual novels and dating sims are a niche to begin with. While most of otome game fandom in the West exists in the online fan translation scene, the US has seen some commercial releases such as the Harvest Moon
for Girls farm sim series, the Yo-Jin-Bo: The Bodyguards
visual novel, and the more recent Princess Debut
rhythm game dating sim.