On this page _ will introduce you to visual novels.
You live in Japan. You want to make a game about meeting and falling in love with a girl. You manage to find people that are willing to help you. You make a game. You make another game. But there is something not right with them.
It does not feel like what it was meant to be. You wanted people to experience romantic love. But romantic love requires depth. And your game has no depth because you focused on making your characters look nice. The characters are shallow and it is hard to connect with them. And there are all these game mechanics that are in the way.
You think of how to improve this situation. One day, you have this idea to write a novel, because you have read some novels and they had the needed depth. But these days, video games are all the rage. Not many people are interested in buying and reading a novel. So you decide to present your novel as a video game, because you already have a video game engine and released some games.
You remember that back in the days there were these things called text adventure video games. A text adventure is a game in which the player reads few lines of text, after which one is presented with a prompt. The player is to make a choice about what to do next. The more choices there are, the more branches there are and the scenario gets complicated and more expensive to write.
You are a small developer, so you create a text adventure game in which the player choices are brought down to the bare minimum. You want people to be focused on your scenario and characters, after all. Since the scenario is so linear, you decide not to call it an adventure game, also because adventure games are not popular these days. You call it a ‘visual novel,’ because it is a novel backed up by visuals. You gain a following and the term catches up, but the industry still considers it to be an adventure game and it is being sold as such.
Because every computer program which is not an operating system, nor a word processor or other utility used for work is a ‘video game.’
_ personally considers these works to be a genre of literature. _ mean, they are so devoid of game elements, it is hard to refer to them as video games. If anything, they contain mini video games, but they themselves are not games in their core. They are lines of text presented on the screen. You could remove all programmed interaction, graphics and sound, and they would still be what they are – novels.