Subculture Spotlight: The Wild, Wonderful World of Otome Games

Otome games, which can be translated from Japanese as “young women’s” or “maiden’s” games, are story-based games that are typically aimed at female players. These games can cover a wide range of themes and genres, but usually have the player assuming the role of a female protagonist, who is able to romance a varied cast of male characters as the story unfolds.

Blending visual novels, dating sims and appealing character designs into one beautifully designed package, the otome genre has garnered a dedicated fanbase over the years. We spoke to one such fan, Maria, to find out more.

Why Otome Games?

Maria is a cosplayer and otome game fan who has been playing otome games for the last nine or ten years. When asked what she finds compelling about the genre, she stated that she enjoys how these games can explore characters and their relationships on a deeper level, as well as finding their choose-your-own-adventure format enjoyable.

“At one time, I can have something more tragic if I want to, or if I want something more healing I can choose a softer route. Having the power to choose is what makes it intriguing, compared to reading typical romance mangas and manhwas,” she opines.

On the other hand, there are fans who have more nuanced reasons for enjoying otome games. While she hasn’t experienced it herself, Maria shared that she’s encountered other fans who play otome games to cope with personal issues or even past trauma. “Even though the characters are virtual, it feels nice for them to have a non-judgemental person they can reach out to and talk with.”


Every niche community has its fair share of misunderstandings from outsiders, and the otome game community is no exception. A common one is that women who play these games do so because they are unable to get into relationships in real life. “It’s a real leap in logic. I have known otome game creators who have boyfriends, husbands; some of them even have kids. They play these games simply because they enjoy these stories.”

Another common stereotype is that outsiders may perceive them as mere “crazy fangirls”, when in reality the otome game community is as diverse as any other. While most fans are drawn in by the romantic storylines and characters, some may choose to focus on the games’ lore, while others might prefer to collect merchandise, discuss the games’ voice actors, and so on.

Recommendations To Get You Started

So, if you’re someone who’s totally new to otome games, where should you get started? According to Maria, it’s totally up to you. “I think this is the beauty of otome – there’s a lot of genres you can go into. It depends on who you are as a person.” That being said, she also suggests looking at your preferences in shoujo or joseimuke anime and finding games with similar premises to get started. 

For the totally uninitiated, Maria also shared a brief overview of the three main platforms you can find otome games on – mobile, PC, and console – as well as a few recommendations for each platform. Those with concerns around triggering content are also encouraged to look up reviews before diving headfirst into a new game.

Otome Games On Mobile

Due to the platform’s size constraints, mobile games are limited in terms of scope compared to PC and console games, but can make up for it by having more frequent updates. Some games may also come with time restrictions that allow players to only read a few chapters per day, or a gacha system where players can earn new characters or outfits.

Ikemen Revolution: An Alice in Wonderland-inspired game where the protagonist finds herself transported into the fantasy world of Cradle, where she becomes caught in a war between the Red and Black Armies of Wonderland.  (iOS, Google Play)

Honey Magazine: Much like an actual magazine, this app collects a wide variety of short, casual otome games in one place, allowing players to try out many different stories without leaving the app. (iOS, Google Play)

Love and Deepspace: One of the most recent and most ambitious otome game releases in 2024, this game features an RPG-inspired battle system, a detailed character customization page, calls and texts with the characters, and more. (iOS, Google Play)

Otome Games On PC

Most PC otome games can be found on websites such as Steam or, and is often the platform of choice for Western otome game creators. While you will be expected to pay for most of these games, they tend to be quite affordable compared to a typical videogame, with a single title averaging around RM30 to RM70.

Nekopara – Catboys Paradise: You play as the grandchild of a small cafe owner, who has recently inherited the cafe after her grandfather’s passing – and must keep it running with the help of four humanoid cats! Bonus points: this game is free to play. (Steam)

Amnesia: Widely considered as a classic in the community, Amnesia revolves around a female lead who has lost her memories and must regain them with the help of a fairy named Orion, while also hiding her amnesia from the people around her. (Steam)

ERROR143: In this indie game, you play as a hacker who gradually becomes caught up in a relationship with a rival hacker named Micah Yujin. The game also comes with some fun features including hacking-themed minigames and the ability to hack into the dev’s PC. (Steam,

Otome Games On Console

Before the release of the Nintendo Switch, most Japanese otome games found their home on the PS Vita. Now, both newer titles as well as older classics are being ported to the Switch, making it a good investment for anyone who’s seriously looking to get into collecting otome games.

Hakuoki: Another highly-rated classic, Hakuoki sees you playing as a young girl named Chizuru as she navigates through the chaotic and turbulent world of feudal Japan, as well as her romantic (and sometimes tragic) encounters with members of the Shinsengumi.

Norn 9: A group of super-powered teenagers are tasked by an organization known as “The World” to use their powers to prevent wars, though things become complicated when they suspect that there may be a traitor in their midst. This game also offers the unique option for you to play as not just one, but three different heroines.

Dance with Devils: Heroine Tachibana Ritsuka is possessed by a forbidden grimoire, which can grant incredible powers to its owner. As a result, different supernatural beings become obsessed with her in an attempt to take the grimoire for themselves.

Bonus: Reines des Fleurs: Although this game is only available in Japanese, it’s included here for its outstanding visuals. The game centres around Violette, the queen of a flower-themed fantasy world, and her relationships with the four different knights who serve her.


Eager to jump into your very first otome game? According to Maria, take it slow and go at your own pace – after all, these are mainly text-based games that will require the player to do a lot of reading.

Finally, Maria also stresses the importance of supporting otome game artists, especially fanartists creating works for their favourite series. “The community is very fan-focused as official merch is very rare and few and far between. So if you do see anyone selling merchandise of an otome game you like, consider supporting them because we strive on each other’s money to maintain this community.”

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