I’m beginning work on a new game project based on my research into what I’m calling Manic Pixie Digital Girls*: those images of caring, nurturing female artificial intelligences that abound in literature, film, and video games (and on our actual smart phones in the form of personal digital assistants like Siri and Cortana).
One “flavor” of the Manic Pixie Digital Girl that I am especially interested in investigating is the bishojuo dating sim girl. Dating Simulations are a popular genre of erotic video games/visual novels in Japan in which an unseen male protagonist must choose between and woo one of several anime-style girls. Often, these games play fast and loose with the concept of consent. Many feature rape scenarios in which girls are “taught” to enjoy sex with the protagonist, as if coming around to “like it” retroactively makes the assault ok. Others feature less violent scenarios but still encourage players to ignore a girl’s “no” and continue to pressure her until she “relents.”
I am currently in the beginning stages of developing my own version of a dating sim in which the protagonist, CJ (an otaku whose gender will remain ambiguous), must learn to respect a woman’s “no.”
The game will have a “time travel” conceit in which the protagonist, along with some sort of magical helper, re-lives the weeks leading up to romantic rejection, searching for some set of possible decisions that will lead to an escape from the so-called “friend zone” and a happily-ever-after ending.
CJ will ultimately learn that true love means respecting a friend’s boundaries and accepting their autonomy. This will end the cycle of searching for a way to “force” the affections of another and will enable CJ to move on and pursue healthier relationships.
I plan to use the TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio to build this game and I might wind up seeking funding on Kickstarter to help defray the costs of generating art and music assets.
In the meantime, my artist friend Sylvia Armitstead has generated this concept art for the object of CJ’s affections.
I’m still searching for her name, so if you have a suggestion let me know in the comments!
*named, of course, for Nathan Rabin’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope.