Ren’ai, or dating simulators in Japan, allow players to choose from various scenarios and create their own love story that has different endings, depending on the player’s choice. But there is an obvious difference between the way male and female characters are presented, with dating sims being designed with sexual stereotypes on display.
While some of the games include several “nice guys”, most dating sims feature the stereotype of a distant, rude man just waiting to be changed by a woman’s love. Aside from that, male characters prove their desire by expressing possessiveness and jealousy and occasionally even forcing kisses (and more) upon women, according to the international press.
On the other hand, some of the games present the woman’s face (i.e. the player’s face) without eyes, while the other characters’ manga-style faces are designed in detail. The aspect contributes to the alienation of being less than equal in a game where a woman is chasing a powerful man’s approval by demonstrating her servitude, the media comments.
Often, in games such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray, the main female character is underdeveloped (or eyeless) so the player can easily imagine themselves as the lead chasing their one objective: true love.
Around 50 percent of women playing dating sims are in relationships and consider themselves “casual users”, compared to their male counterparts who often regular gamers and fit the otaku, or obsessive fan, stereotype, according to Yuta Ogi with games developer Voltage.