Nobody wants to be forever alone, but if you're single on Valentine's Day, it's hard not to. Luckily, Japan's craze for romance gaming is taking the western world by storm, so you can cease your self-consciousness and actually make an anime fall in love with you. Bliss.

Seriously, who invented a day that celebrates love? It’s all very well and good if you’re snuggled up with your SO, scrolling through Deliveroo and planning to eat a horrific amount of Chinese food in bed while bingeing on The OA. Or sitting, perfectly groomed, in a steak restaurant that you can’t afford, pretending to be a grown up with your sophisticated partner.

 

But what about the rest of us? There are 17 million single people in the UK right now, and lots of them are looking for love. Is it really worth getting dressed up and scouring your local bar with a predatory stare, hoping to lock eyes with a potential mate? Or swiping your way through Tinder searching for anyone, anyone who doesn’t just use a set of emoji to describe their personality? Just to avoid being forever alone? No it’s not worth it. Honestly, it’s not.

 

We do have an alternative though, something that’s already insanely popular in Japan and that we think is going to take over the world. Why have a real live fleshy boyfriend or girlfriend when you can have a virtual one?

 

Yep, welcome to the world of romance gaming.

 

 

romance-gaming-screen-shotVoltage Inc.

What… the heck… is romance gaming?

Yeah, good question: so basically there are hundreds of different ‘romance’ games – stories and simulators – that you can download on your phone. Traditionally targeted at women who liked men, they were named Otome games (Otome means ‘maiden’ in Japanese) but these days there are plenty of options for men (and women) who like women too.

 

What do the games entail?

Every game is different but the general pattern is that there’s some kind of romantic setting (high school, police academy, mythical woodlands etc.) and using storytelling and simulation you can get people to fall in love with you. It’s easier than in real life as well, because options are limited and things like multiple choice take some of the pressure off.

 

So the end goal is…

Get someone to fall in love with you. Or propose to you. Or have a happily ever after marriage. Or something more naughty, but we’re not going to talk about those kinds of games here as this is a family-friendly website.

 

Can you play them on your mobile?

Why on earth would we tell you about games that you couldn’t play on your mobile? Of course you can! In fact, these games pretty authentically replace a real life bae because they will send you messages, texts and cute little pictures. Yep. You may even get those falling-in-love butterflies when you see the notification light up your screen.

 

Which of these Otome games do you recommend?

Glad you asked. Here are some of our faves…

 

Dream Boyfriend & Dream Girlfriend

Two different apps for your preferred gender, this cute anime style game basically lets you create your perfect partner and then date them. Change their face, height, personality, outfits and forget about flaws – just like you, they don’t have any! Collaborate with friends and chat to your personalised partner as if they’re just casually messaging you. All the fun of a long-distance lover, without the stress.

Available for free on iTunes and Google Play

 

My Sweet Proposal

A classic Otome aimed at women who want to get married, this game kinda lets you live out your wildest and most ridiculous romantic fantasies with the kind of earnest heartfelt messaging that will be as fulfilling as it is hilarious. Choose between a bratty-but-beautiful heir to a wealthy business fortune, a tender and brilliant famous wedding planner, or your wholesome imaginary ex-boyfriend who is desperate to win you back and craft yourself the most perfect proposal in history.

 

Available for free on iTunes and Google Play

romance-gaming-love-balladVoltage Inc.

Samurai Love Ballad: PARTY

The creators of this game, Voltage, are big dogs in the industry. With over 90 titles, most of which concern romance and love, there’s a multitude of scenes, options and stories to choose from. One of the more recent releases is this sensual Samurai-themed game. You play a beautiful Sengoku princess adorned in kimonos, and various challenges and mini-games allow you to unlock conversations and storylines with one of 12 Samurai suitors. Choose answers and reactions that can lead to – you guessed it – everlasting love!

 

Available for free on iTunes and Google Play

 

If My Heart Had Wings

Sounding like a Studio Ghibli film, this romantic game from MoeNovel is a story-fuelled experience where a boy returns to his hometown with dreams of love and learning to fly. It may sound girly, but this one is aimed at guys (and other fans of the female form). Definitely check this one out for something tender and a little bit magical.

 

Available for free on iTunes and Google Play

 

Kissed by the Baddest Bidder

Impressively ranked 18 on the Google Play USA, this game positions you as a maid working in a luxury casino hotel. You accidentally stumble across secrets, and find yourself entangled in a story that allows you to choose between a cold-hearted millionaire, a mobster, a sexy thief, an artist with a heart of gold or a handsome but lazy detective. Play the Prologue for free and enjoy 16 episodes of further challenges and content with your chosen boyfriend for £3.20.

 

Available for free on iTunes and Google Play

 

Mystic Messenger

Probably one of the most advanced games in this genre, the immersive experience of becoming part of a friendship group of seriously hot men by accident can be weirdly addictive. Text your crushes in an in-app chat feature (which feels a lot like WhatsApp) and receive emails, and even calls with clues and prompts to help you continue the mysterious story…

 

Available for free on iTunes and Google Play

 

 

So sure, a mobile game may not be your ideal solution to being single on Valentine’s Day, but tbh we can think of worse ways to spend our time than snuggled under a duvet exchanging flirty texts with fictional manga crushes. You’re welcome, singletons.

Image Credit – Voltage Inc.