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  • Game Design Challenge: Romance

    - staff
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Every other Wednesday we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have two weeks to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). After the two week submission period elapses, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted, along with some commentary.

    The Challenge

    Create a romance game for Western audiences.

    Assignment Details

    Tokimeki Memorial

    While romance games have had a pretty long history in Japan, success has eluded this genre in the U.S. Sure, some Japanese games get translated and are appreciated by niche audiences, but there hasn't been a really substantial success comparable to Konami's Tokimeki Memorial or its more recent Love Plus.
    Love Plus

    What's the problem? Some Western designers have tackled the genre, but without making any major headway either. One notable attempt was the Nintendo DS launch game Sprung, which featured pithy dialogue and trendier characters than the Japanese games.


    Konami even tried to launch an original romance game in the west with Brooktown High: Senior Year, developed by Backbone Entertainment. It copied the gameplay format of the Tokimeki Memorial games -- a blend of social interaction, character management, and minigames -- but was intended as a humorous, pop-culture infused attempt at the genre; it was met with stony silence from gamers.

    Brooktown High

    Is there any way to make a relationship or dating game that's appealing to Westerners?

    Your task is to think about what might work. Probably the best thing to do is to define your audience -- there's one obvious problem with Sprung and Brooktown it's that they misidentified their audience, or perhaps identified audiences that just weren't interested. 

    And, please -- keep your concepts no more than M-rated, and your submissions suitable for all audiences. 

    To Submit

    Work on your ideas, figure out your strategy for coming up with a solution, and ask questions on the forum. When your submission is complete, send it to [email protected] with the subject line "Design Challenge: Romance." Please type your answer directly in the email body.

    Submissions should be no more than 500 words and may contain up to three images. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

    Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, March 10

    Results will be posted Tuesday, March 16

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.


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