The world of visual novels and eroge is vast, deep, and filled with wriggling tentacles. There is also a surprisingly varied amount of sexual representation, with genres dedicated to heterosexual, homosexual, and everything in between. You can even romance pigeons or a T-Rex if you wanted.
The positive portrayal of sexuality in select eroge is great to see, but almost every title railroads you down certain paths. This may seem like a non-issue since fans of homosexual relationships will play a yuri or yaoi title, while heterosexual fans will play titles suited to their tastes. But, doesn’t this limiting of player choice narrow the scope of stories and prevent people from stumbling upon things they never knew they enjoyed?
Not all eroge is out there to tell stories or have well-written characters – plenty of them are just excuses to have sexy time with hot anime characters or play something weird. But sometimes developers take the medium further than parodies, meta-commentary, and alpacas.
We’ve seen eroge that play with our emotions with stories of moving on from a tragedy, accepting people with disabilities, and exploring how abuse can shape views on sex. Something we haven’t seen a ton of is an open sexual orientation mechanic that can let people examine and explore their own sexuality.
Sweet Volley High, created by NewWestGames, has offered an easy way for developers to expand the sexual orientation options. Players have the choice of controlling a male or female avatar and having relationships with anyone, regardless of the cast’s gender.
NewWestGames have shared they really wanted to offer a bisexual lead since “bisexual people are vastly underrepresented in the video game world as a whole. I want my games to have stories that people can relate to – or show a perspective that the reader does not have.”
In the game, once your avatar is chosen, you go off to pursue a dream of becoming a volleyball star during the senior year of high school. Naturally, there are opportunities for romance and exploring different story routes in a traditional visual novel fashion although not every pairing has a perfect romantic end, much like in life.
Essentially, you can choose a straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual playthrough without shelling out extra cash. It’d be nice if there were more characters and routes but this model is a strong step forward toward seamlessly serving multiple types of orientations.
Sweet Volley High briefly touches on the topic, but exploring one’s own sexuality is a part of youth. Young people go through high school and college grasping with their feelings and how it fits into society. It’s a powerful life event for many people and is one of the least explored avenues in eroge since most games fall into either the yuri, yaoi, or straight genre exclusively.