Visual novels have been around for a long time, but their popularity is growing as more gamers look for ways to support independent developers.
At Game Developers of Color Expo 2021, Kai Little-White, writer and storyteller, gave an inspiring talk titled “Hacking Barriers to Diversity with Visual Novels and Speculative Sci-Fi” in which she explained how important this medium can be because it is so accessible to young designers. For aspiring game developers, it can be difficult to secure the necessary funding or figure out which aspect of development they can fit into, and visual novels – an increasingly diverse genre with unique voices across the gaming spectrum – may provide part of the solution.
One of the most universal ways in which humans communicate and connect with each other is storytelling, and video games are increasingly focused on history, with more and more players valuing games for their benefit. narrative gameplay and their deep traditions. Visual novels are a prime example, focused as they are almost exclusively about dialogue and story. Over the years, video games have become one of the most immersive ways for people to experience a story, regardless of genre, but game development is time consuming and expensive, and so is a big hurdle. for many creators. Little-White found visual novels to be an answer to these problems, something she describes as “a flaw in the AAA games firewall.âThese types of games can be a revolutionary way to give a voice to marginalized people in an industry that is often one-sided.
Visual novels were once mostly popular in Japan, and at times they even made up a large percentage of PC games released there. But their popularity is growing outside of Asia, as more and more people realize that this medium is more than just love stories. Budding game developers can use programs like Twine, Inkle, or Ren’Py to bring their ideas to life – all without the need for an entire team. Many gamers have been calling for more diversity in games for years, but in the world of AAA games, change is happening slowly. For gamers looking for stories outside of mainstream gaming, visual novels can be a refreshing prospect.
Diversity in the Vast World of Visual Novels
Once players are open to the idea of ââexperiencing a visual novel, there are thousands to choose from. A good place to start is to find upcoming games from indie developers like Vivid Foundry and PlotTwist Studios. Games like State of comfort, a 3D cyberpunk visual novel about a young hacker experiencing her political awakening, gives voice to more diverse and potentially controversial opinions. Women of Xal from PlotTwist Studios is a story featuring a cast made up of mostly women of color and immerses the player in a story of political intrigue with magical elements.
While video games are ultimately about fun, they can be much more than that. The industry as a whole has expanded beyond classic action shooter games and is now one of the most memorable ways to tell a story. Players who want a more diverse and immersive storytelling can show their support for these alternatives to traditional games by listing upcoming games on Steam or checking out indie developers at itch.io, as well as Kai Little-White’s upcoming interactive podcast. . Lime storytellers. The world of visual novels is already large enough and is growing day by day, leaving more room for fascinating stories told by equally fascinating people.
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