Does one "play" visual novels or "read" them?:
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Let's neobowman Katawa Shoujo!
Well played, old chap!
PREAY FOR MERCY! ...heh. Couldn't resist. Statistically, I guess you'd have to say "read" is the more correct of the two. If you define "play" as "any instance in which the player's control over the game world is exerted" then the only parts that constitute "playing" a VN would be choice selections. Otherwise what you're doing the vast majority of the time is reading.
Did I ever tell you...the definition of insanity?
By the way, I dislike that constant reference to V Ns as digital Choose Your Own Adventure books. Those things actually were quite interactive, with a choice at the end of every (short) page, with RPG combat mechanics, and with not much of a plot. They were even written in second person, giving the impression that they are effectively video games on paper, where you still constantly control an avatar. That still leads to misunderstandings like Katawa Shoujo being described as a game where you go around sexing disabled girls, as opposed to a romance story about couples. After all, it's a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story, right?
edited 14th Jun '12 5:31:56 AM by Ever9
Well I didn't read(play) any Choose Your Own Adventure books but as far as I know they're the most similar medium to VN's so they're used as examples. It's hard to explain how VN's work so a similar example helps(especially multiple endings).
My hatoful Monster Girlfriend is the President Ecstasy: Higurashi After in Summer (All ages memorial edition)
I'd say Choose Your Own Adventure books are essentially printed Visual Novels. Sure, there's a difference, but I say they're close enough to make the distinction meaningless. The difference is what genre they're in. Visual Novels are more often about romance, while Choose Your Own Adventure books are more often adventures. I don't really make a difference between books where you are Link who's adventuring Hyrule, or Hisao going in a school for people with special needs. In most Choose Your Own Adventure books I've played, you play as a character who's referred to in second person. I've seen the same in Visual Novels. The difference even if that would be different is still just semantic. It's never you, yourself, the player, but the character you play. Even if it's someone you make up yourself. After all, you're not the one out on that adventure. You're most likely at home. On the topic of whether I use play or read, I use both.
edited 14th Jun '12 12:25:10 PM by Feather7603
The differences between CYO As and V Ns are semantic, only if you are explaining the technical methods of how event branches are organized, to someone like a programmer. In that case, the frequency of the choice options or the wording of the content doesn't matter, so sure, go ahead and explain them as "they are built up in the same way as CYOA games..." But it's a very poor way to descibe the actual experience of reading either of them. Whether you see a new choice option after every 2-3 paragraphs, or there are 2-3 choices altogether that will decide which linear, novel-lenght route you are going to read next, definitely influences whether you will think of it as more of a story, or more of a game. Video games also have multiple endings, and dialogue options, so I believe most people are not alien to their concept. In fact, I think the main problem is that it's so easy to compare V Ns to either video games or CYOA, that their actual content is sure to be FAR LESS interactive than what people would expect. I didn't ever see anyone who described their first VN experience as being baffled by the idea of interactive choices in a story, but many were baffled by the LACK of choices compared to what they expected from something that is called a "game", so I think the most helpful way to descibe them is to emphasize their lack of minute-to-minute interactivity, even downplaying it's presence.
"...you play as a character who's referred to in second person. I've seen the same in Visual Novels." Wait, what? Most, nearly all in fact, of the visual novels I've read have been in first-person. I doubt you've been reading many that are different.
Das kann doch nicht sein!
By the way, I dislike that constant reference to V Ns as digital Choose Your Own Adventure books. Those things actually were quite interactive, with a choice at the end of every (short) page, with RPG combat mechanics, and with not much of a plot.Really, that depends on the CYOA book in question. I saw some that don't have that much interactivity. And I think that at at least Lone Wolf has quite some plot (from what I remember, that is). Even the "Fighting Fantasy" line varies in that. The one Sci-Fi book, where you "control" the crew of a spaceship, who tries to get back home, is pretty linear in comparision to others, like... the one where you go through a forest to... kill a wizard or something (yeah, it's been a while). There was a series of books that are pretty much a sandbox (with every single book representing being a single region). You could do whatever you want and go wherever you wanted to go (although it's restricted by whatever books you have and I think not all of them were actually released). That's more interactivity than every other CYOA book has. I'm tempted to say that it's the only CYOA that really deserves the name "Choose Your Adventure Book". But even then, CYOA isn't "playing a game" for me. it's still just "reading a book". VNs are like that too. They are as much video games, as CYOA books are RPGs (as in, they aren't at all, despite similarities). They are read, but can't be played, because they are not games. I mentally slap myself, every time I say "play" for them. And I really don't understand why some people feel the need to be butthurt, when somebody points that out.
edited 15th Jun '12 2:20:24 AM by Nyarly
People aren't as awful as the internet makes them out to be.
People like to be insulted. Strange, but true. I said I've seen it, not that it's common. Most have Visual Novels have a first person perspective. The point is, though, that perspective is not part of the distinction. Both can and do use both. I am a programmer. And an author, for that matter. I've actually created a Choose Your Own Adventure in the old Quick BASIC. And one or two text adventures. Anyway, I've read Visual Novels that have a lot of options, and I've read Choose Your Own Adventure books that have very few. The inclusion of items and stats for combat that some Choose Your Own Adventure books have isn't necessary either. Some have pure reading choices. Visual Novels can have similar things, but since they track your progress automatically, it may not be something you actually see unless you analyse it. That people are surprised by the lack of choices in Visual Novels is because they're expecting a game where you're in control most of the time. If you pick up a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you're expecting a book with choices. Either way, I don't see how amount of interactivity is significant to differ them enough to say that it's completely wrong to refer to one as the other, with a different media. I would differ them more by genre than anything else. The difference between reading two books (or games, or anything in between) of different genres is more different than reading a Visual Novel and a Choose Your Own Adventure book of the same genre. Both are interactive stories, with the focus of being stories that are interactive. Though the real difference is the Visual part of it. While Choose Your Own Adventure books do have some pictures, they don't visualise the conversations like Visual Novels do. Sort of but not quite like comparing comics with books. Lone Wolf is a good series of books, by the way. The bad thing is that the math on some of the later fights really don't add up. You're going to die 99.3% of the time (that's an actual calculation I made, not an exaggeration, by the way, based on the stats I had then, which very decently good). Optimal stats and equipment can lower that to something like 90%, I think. Note that stats are supposed to be randomly generated.
Problem is, visual novels don't exclusively have choices at all in them. Many famous ones don't, in fact - see Higurashi, as well as Planetarian. Comparing visual novels to CYOA books is about as close as comparing CYOA books to a game like Mass Effect or something. They're comparable, but in the end completely different and shouldn't be viewed as being on the same level in any way.
Higurashi totally has choices in it. Super critical ones.
I find the notion that the similiarity beteween Mass Effect and a Choose Your Own Adventure book is equal to the similarity between a Choose Your Own Adventure book and a Visual Novel rather ridiculous.
edited 16th Jun '12 9:43:29 AM by Feather7603
Because one always has choices, and the other doesn't? :3
I'm just going to clarify: I'm not arguing that they are the same. I'm arguing that they're close enough to be comparable.
edited 17th Jun '12 6:58:26 AM by Feather7603
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