Let's Talk about Dating Simulators
I never thought I would ever be writing an article about dating simulators, yet here we are. As a blog that talks a lot about romance, weddings, history, gaming, and rings, of course, it would happen eventually.
Dating can be scary in real life so sometimes having a safe space to practice is just what you need and if a game can give you that, then so be it! Today we will be looking at some iconic dating simulators to give you an idea of why this genre of video game and modern dating medium is taking many by the string of their hearts!
KFC Dating Simulator
It's what it says on the tin, but yes it is true. I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator is a title that can be purchased and played on Steam. Did I say it is also free? So even if you have never dated virtually before with an anime character, you can! This game knows what it is about and is full of many cute scenarios for you to go through and has become iconic with YouTubers. If you feel you can’t be bothered playing it yourself you can watch others as well. And sometimes the commentators can be hilarious with their responses.
This game has it all. Scales to keep up with the love interests happiness scales, and dialogue to make you actually feel like you are slowly making your way through the awkward world of dating.
The Oldest Dating Simulator: Tokimeki Memorial
Released in 1994 this game is the first dating sim to hit the mainstream. It is set in a Japanese high school and follows three years of schooling before they graduate. You are a kid thrust into the world of grades and the stress of getting into a good university, and not only that you also have to deal with social interactions as well!
The aim of the game is to get high love meters of the person you are most interested in dating and you go on lots of dates to increase this. Moreover, to appeal more attractive to them, you can play sport and by the end of the game if you max out both scales you can confess your love and you might get the one your desire! The characters each have their own set personalities and will react differently to the decisions you make.
As the first in its genre, it is a simple yet fun little romp of a game to have some fun and get to grips with the world of dating if you’re not so experienced with it in the real world.
Later Daters: Dating in a Retirement Home
Something that is a bit more original, as most of the dating sims on the market are related to young love and often teens, is the visual novel Later Daters. YES, this is not a dating simulator with the same freedom of choice as some of the others, but it is still worth pointing out for those who are older that are feeling they are not represented in this genre enough. You will still have a range of dating options to choose from and there you can get to know the other residents of your village and you may find true love!
Even if you are in the retirement stage, why does it slow down and get boring? This heartwarming game is about finding new friends and starting a new stage in one’s life and bringing a spark of happiness and youthful joy.
Queer Highschool Dating: Long Story
In recent years one of the beauties of the world is that more people are being open to Queer stories and experiences being told. Not even twenty years ago would it have been accepted by most to have a game that allowed Queer identities to be explored and expressed in the open without a shameful pressure put on it from other parts of society.
Long Story is a heavy plot-driven dating sim with the potential to experience the Queer experience in a high school setting. It is about getting through the hard stages of finding friends in a seemingly hostile battleground of petty teen politics and the stress of finding a safe place. You can be whoever you want in this game, date whoever, and its characters are quite diverse giving you a great experience overall!
Dating and Dogs: Best Friend Forever!
Who would have thought that this dating sim is the first of its kind which combines the cute petting game mechanic with dating sims! You can truly have a lot of fun with this and if you don’t want to date you can pet your… pet and then go on a date with your cute pooch when you feel up for the task.
Needing a fresh start, you head to a new town where you get yourself a pet and you meet lots of singles in your area. When you have a pet and you meet someone the little creatures are a great ice breaker and most people love the cute fuzz balls. This game reflects this dating rule perfectly and gives players a way to test these simple facts out.
The game revolves around training your animal and getting closer to your best friend. Throughout the game, you’ll encounter singles and have the chance to get to know them better over dates. Getting closer over interactions and love meters.
Easy Going: Coffee Talk
This game is about a heart-to-heart between people sitting around over a cup of coffee. It encourages people to talk about their problems and open up to others and you just might find another side of someone that could lead to something more.
Set in a fantasy modern world with orcs and elves alike it takes on a grounded medium. It makes you feel calm, living in the moment as you play as a barista just working their shift, but using it as a vessel to help others talk through their issues. It captures the perfect vibe of the ideal coffee shop where people just ‘chill’, chat, and remove themselves from the stress of life for a moment.
There are so many dating games that are popping up more and more. It makes up a large portion of the indie game market and has a growing audience so who could blame these observations?
They often have a bad rep in gaming spaces, but dating games are not simply for people to ‘get off’ its much deeper than that and about insecurities some have about dating in the real world. It allows people to get the experience they need before they try dating for real. Although, I know of married people that love the sims so it is many reasons why people are attracted to these games beyond just inexperience alone.
Dating sims allow us to explore a lot of things about ourselves. Try out identities or sexualities if we are questioning if we are queer or not, or if we just want to experience a cute little romance story that we have control over.
We at Thorum love all types of love and the ability for games to help others in this regard and with the troubles of dating is a score in the ballpark for dating sims!
Check out our guide on How to mix up tradition for your LGBTQ+ Wedding – ThorumAnd if you want to get truly virtual for a wedding (or date): How to do a Virtual Marriage – Thorum