Japan is the world’s largest producer of love simulation games, revealing a curious feature: these games, in theory, assign female players to the unique task of seducing a male character, but, in reality, they promote the establishment of a network of friendship between women. Love cannot be achieved if this network is not carefully woven both in play and in real life. Based on the analysis of this double dynamics, outwardly contradictory, I would like to advance the following hypothesis: that such games enable their users to “outsmart” the gender expectations. These games, called otome games, significantly developed in the context of a national panic related to the declining birthrate: they target the market of women who -living alone or with their parents- are held responsible for the future shortfall of the system. These new generations of women don’t start a family. They have no children. How do they manage to ward off exclusion and stigma? The study will focus on the strategies collectively devised to turn otome games into an identity-building tool, promoting friendship between players as a means of resistance against social norms.
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