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An eroge (エロゲ or エロゲー, erogē; pronounced  [eɾoɡe] ; a portmanteau of erotic gameエロチックゲーム, erochikku gēmu) is a Japanese genre of erotic video game. In 1982, Japan's Koei, founded by husband-and-wife team Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa (and later known for strategy video games), released the first erotic computer game with sexually explicit graphics, Night Life , [1] an early graphic adventure game [2] for the NEC PC-8801. That same year, Koei released another erotic title, Danchi Tsuma no Yuwaku (Seduction of the Condominium Wife), [3] which was an early role-playing [4] [5] adventure game with colour graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the NEC PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company. [3]


Like with Koei, several other now-famous Japanese companies such as Enix, Square and Nihon Falcom also released erotic adult games for the PC-8801 computer in the early 1980s before they became mainstream. Early eroge usually had simplistic stories and extreme sexual content, such as rape and types Yuri and hentai. [6] In some of the early erotic games, the erotic content is meaningfully integrated into a thoughtful and mature storyline, though others often used it as simply an excuse for pornography. [1]

In 1999, Key released Kanon . It contains about 7 brief erotic scenes in a sentimental story the size of a long novel (an all-ages version was also released afterward). Kanon sold over 300,000 copies. [7]

In response to increasing pressure from Japanese lobby groups, in mid-1996 Sega of Japan announced that they would no longer permit Sega Saturn games to include nudity. [8]

Many fanservice video games with sexual content have some brief nudity. The "M" rated series Senran Kagura has some nudity in both gameplay and cutscenes but genitals aren't displayed. Fanservice games rated "T" such as Hyperdimension Neptunia offer similar content but less than what Senran Kagura has. Howerver, since 2018, Sony has now issued new regulations for PlayStation 4 games with both fanservice and sexual content. For the localized release of Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal , "Intimacy Mode", a mode where the player can play with the characters' bodies was removed, but by comparison, this mode is still available in the series' previous titles Senran Kagura: Estival Versus and Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash . The PC release of Burst Re:Newal was not changed. [9] Many other recent PS4 games with sexual content are facing the same problem from Sony, including Neptunia, Date a Live: Rio Reincarnation , Death end re;Quest and the Nekopara series, although Sony did allow nudity and a sex scene in The Last of Us Part II . This controversy had become a problem for the development of Senran Kagura 7even , in which publishers Marvelous are now reconsidering the game [10] and series producer Kenichiro Takaki is now leaving Marvelous. [11]


Eroge, also known as erotic games, [12] have their origins in the early 1980s, when Japanese companies introduced their own brands of microcomputer to compete with those of the United States. Competing systems included the X1, FM-7, MSX, and PC-8801.

The earliest known commercial erotic computer game is PSK's Lolita Yakyūken, released in 1982. [13] That same year, Koei released the erotic title, Seduction of the Condominium Wife (団地妻の誘惑, Danchi Tsuma no Yūwaku), which was an early role-playing adventure game with color graphics, [14] [15] owing to the eight-color palette of the PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company. [16]

In another opinion, Yuji Horii recalled in 1986 that he saw a demonstration of a Yakyūken-like game running on the FM-8 in the end of 1981, and he considered Yakyūken was the origin of adult games. [17] Some writers say that Yakyūken produced for Sharp MZ computers by Hudson Soft is the first Japanese adult game. [18] [19]

Other now-famous Japanese companies such as Enix, Square and Nihon Falcom also released erotic adult games for the PC-8801 computer in the early 1980s before they became mainstream. [1] Early eroge usually had simple stories, some even involving anal sex, which often led to widespread condemnation from the Japanese media. In some of the early erotic games, the erotic content is meaningfully integrated into a thoughtful and mature storytelling, though others often used it as a flimsy excuse for pornography. [1] Erotic games made the PC-8801 popular, but customers quickly became tired of paying 8800 yen ($85) for such simple games. Soon, new genres were invented: ASCII's Chaos Angels, a role-playing-based eroge, inspired Dragon Knight by Elf and Rance by AliceSoft.

In the early 1990s eroge games became much more common. Most eroge games, a fairly large library, found its way on the PC-9801 platform. FM Towns also received many games, more so than the X68000 or MS-DOS, whilst the MSX platform (which had many eroge games in the 1980s) was nearing the end of its lifetime. Eroge was much less common on consoles – only NEC's PC Engine series had officially licensed adult games, and from the mid-90s, Sega's Saturn. Both Nintendo and Sony disallowed adult video games on their consoles. Games also started to appear on Windows as it grew in popularity.

In 1992, Elf released Dōkyūsei . In it, before any eroticism, the user has to first win the affection of one of a number of female characters, making the story into an interactive romance novel. Thus, the love simulation genre was invented. Soon afterwards, the video game Otogirisou on the Super Famicom attracted the attention of many Japanese gamers. Otogirisou was a standard adventure game but had multiple endings. This concept was called a "sound novel".

In 1996, the new software developer and publisher Leaf expanded on this idea, calling it a visual novel and releasing their first successful game, Shizuku , a horror story starring a rapist high school student, with very highly reviewed writing and music. Their next game, Kizuato , was almost as dark. However, in 1997, they released To Heart , a sweetly sentimental story of high school love that became one of the most famous and trendsetting eroge ever. To Heart's music was so popular it was added to karaoke machines throughout Japan—a first for eroge.

After a similar game by Tactics, One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e , became a hit in 1998, Visual Arts scouted main creative staff of One to form a new brand under them, which became Key. In 1999, Key released Kanon . It contains only about seven brief erotic scenes in a sentimental story the size of a long novel (an all-ages version was also released afterward), but the enthusiasm of the response was unprecedented, and Kanon sold over 300,000 copies. In 2002 a 13-episode anime series was produced, as well as another 24-episode anime series in 2006. According to Satoshi Todome's A History of Eroge, Kanon is still the standard for modern eroge and is referred to as a "baptism" for young otaku in Japan. Although many eroge still market themselves primarily on sex, eroge that focus on story are now a major established part of Japanese otaku culture. Oftentimes, voice actors who have voiced for eroge have been credited under a pseudonym.

As the visual novel standard was adopted, the erotic parts in eroge began to become less and less apparent. Many eroge become more story-oriented than sex-oriented, making story the main focus for many modern eroge. More and more people who used to reject such type of games began to become more open-minded, realizing that eroge are not just about sex anymore. [20] A lot of story-focused eroge tend to have only a few erotic scenes.

Another subgenre is called "nukige" (抜きゲー, Nukigē), in which sexual gratification of the player is the main focus of the game. [21]


Eroge is subjected to various forms of censorship under Japanese law

There is no set definition for the gameplay of eroge, except that they all include explicit erotic or sexual content depending on the game. Like other pornographic media in Japan, erotic scenes feature censorship of genitalia, only becoming uncensored if the game is licensed and released outside Japan, unless produced illegally by dōjin (usually with a construction kit like NScripter or RPG Maker). Additionally, some games may receive an "all-ages" version, such as a port to consoles or handheld devices where pornographic content isn't allowed, which either remove or censor the sex scenes entirely.

Eroge is most often a visual novel or dating sim. However, there are also many other gameplay genres represented within eroge, such as role-playing games, mahjong games, or puzzle games. Some eroge, such as those made by Illusion Soft, are just simulations of sex, with no "conventional" gameplay included.

Related Research Articles

Hentai Japanese pornographic animation, comics, and video games

Outside of Japan, hentai is anime and manga pornography. In Japanese, however, "hentai" is not a genre of media but any type of perverse or bizarre sexual desire or act. For example, outside of Japan a work of animation depicting lesbian sex might be described as "yuri hentai", but in Japan it would just be described as "yuri".

<i>Kanon</i> (visual novel) 1999 Japanese adult visual novel

Kanon is a Japanese adult visual novel developed by Key released on June 4, 1999 for Windows PCs. Key later released versions of Kanon without the erotic content, and the game was ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. The story follows the life of Yuichi Aizawa, a high school student who returns to a city he last visited seven years prior, and he has little recollection of the events from back then. He meets several girls and slowly regains his lost memories. The gameplay in Kanon follows a branching plot line which offers pre-determined scenarios with courses of interaction, and focuses on the appeal of the five female main characters by the player character. The game once ranked as the second best-selling PC game sold in Japan, and charted in the national top 50 several more times afterwards. Kanon has sold over 300,000 units across several platforms.

Pornography in Japan Japanese pornographic industry

Pornography in Japan has unique characteristics that readily distinguish it from Western pornography. Reflecting Japan's views on sexuality and culture, Japanese pornography delves into a wide spectrum of heterosexual, homosexual, and transgender sexual acts in addition to unique fetishes and paraphilias.

Koei Japanese video game publisher, developer, and distributor founded in 1978

Koei Co., Ltd. was a Japanese video game publisher, developer, and distributor founded in 1978. The company is known for its historical simulation games based on the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as well as simulation games based on pseudo-historical events.

A visual novel, often abbreviated as VN, is an interactive fiction video game genre, which originated in Japan, featuring text-based story with narrative style of literature and interactivity aided by static or sprite-based visuals, most often using anime-style art or occasionally live-action stills. As the name might suggest, they resemble mixed-media novels.

<i>Bishōjo</i> game Japanese video game with attractive girls

A bishōjo game or gal game, is "a type of Japanese video game centered on interactions with attractive girls". These games are a subgenre of dating sims targeted towards a heterosexual male audience.

<i>Night Life</i> (video game) Erotic graphic adventure game

Night Life (ナイトライフ) is an erotic simulation game by Kōei, released for the PC-8801 computer in April 1982.

1982 was the peak year of arcade and console games during the Golden age of arcade video games. Troubles at Atari, Inc. late in the year triggered the North American video game crash of 1983. Many games were released that would spawn franchises, or at least sequels, including Dig Dug, Pole Position, Mr. Do!, Pitfall!, and Q*bert. Additional consoles add to a crowded market. The new Commodore 64 goes on to eventually dominate the 8-bit home computer market.

The inclusion of sex and nudity in video games has been controversial since the early days of the video game industry. While many video games have used scantily clad images or characters to sell or enhance games, some go further, using sex acts or nudity as a character motivation, in-game reward, or simply as a gameplay element. These games originate worldwide, on most platforms and can be of any video game genre. While releases in Europe and North America have been sporadic and often unlicensed, Japan has seen the emergence of a pornographic video game subgenre—eroge, first appearing on the NEC PC-88 computer platform in the 1980s. In the 1990s NEC and Sega were the only companies who officially allowed sexual content on their consoles in Japan, but eroge was more prevalent on the NEC PC-98 and FM Towns computer platforms.

<i>Steam-Hearts</i> 1994 shoot em up

Steam-Heart's is a shoot 'em up and eroge developed by Giga and published by TGL. The story follows two siblings as they fight off a virus that is possessing the people in their world. The game features shooter gameplay paired with ample erotic cutscenes with scantily clad women. Steam-Heart's was initially released on PC-98 personal computers in 1994. It later made its way to the PC Engine CD-ROM² System in 1996 and then the Sega Saturn in 1998. All releases have been limited to the Japanese market. Critics generally found the gameplay to be average, with the erotic content being the sole distinguishing feature.

<i>One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e</i> 1998 film directed by Kan Fukumoto and Shigenori Kageyama

One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e is a Japanese adult visual novel, developed by Tactics, a brand of Nexton, released on May 29, 1998 playable on Windows PCs. The erotic content was later removed when the game was ported to the PlayStation. The story follows the life of Kōhei Orihara, a high school student who has fun spending time with several girls about his age, while at the same time he is gradually being drawn into a mystical alternate space known as the Eternal World.

Marvelous (company) Japanese Anime producer and video game company

Marvelous Inc. is a Japanese video game developer and publisher, and anime producer. The company was formed in October 2011 by the merger of the original Marvelous Entertainment, AQ Interactive, and Liveware.

<i>Senran Kagura</i> Video game series and media franchise

Senran Kagura is a video game series created by Kenichiro Takaki, produced by Marvelous and mostly developed by Tamsoft. The franchise revolves around groups of female shinobi, and has received manga and anime adaptations. The anime has been licensed by Funimation Entertainment in North America.

<i>Senran Kagura Burst</i> 2012 video game

Senran Kagura Burst is an action beat 'em up video game developed by Tamsoft, and the first entry in the Senran Kagura series. It was originally published for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan as Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows in 2011; an expanded "director's cut" version was released in 2012, and received Western releases in 2013–2014. A remake, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal, was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2018.

<i>Imouto Paradise!</i>

Imouto Paradise! Onii-chan to Go nin no Imouto no Ecchi Shimakuri na Mainichi is a Japanese erotic visual novel developed and published by Moonstone Cherry. Imouto Paradise! was first released on January 28, 2011, playable on Windows as a PC game. On July 29, 2011, M-Trix produced an Android version of Imouto Paradise!, and on September 29, 2011, the game was released as a DVDPG edition by Dennou Club. MangaGamer released an English language localization of the game on August 22, 2014. On May 31, 2013, Paradigm published a light novel and an adult manga for Imouto Paradise! serialized in the Comic Potpourri Club magazine. A hentai original video animation series was produced. Moonstone Cherry released a sequel to the first visual novel called Imouto Paradise 2.

<i>Kanojo × Kanojo × Kanojo</i> Japanese erotic visual novel and its franchise

Kanojo × Kanojo × Kanojo: Sanshimai to no Dokidoki Kyōdō Seikatsu (彼女×彼女×彼女~三姉妹とのドキドキ共同生活~) is a Japanese erotic visual novel developed by Crossnet, and released for Windows PCs on May 30, 2008. Kanojo × Kanojo × Kanojo was later released for the PlayStation Portable, and as a DVD TV game. A sequel visual novel, titled Kanojo × Kanojo × Kanojo Dokidoki Full Throttle!, was released as a PC game for Windows on February 27, 2009, and later released as a PSP game and DVD TV game as well. The story follows Shiki Haruomi, who begins living with three beautiful sisters after the volcano on his island erupts.

<i>Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus</i> 2013 video game

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus is the third video game in the Senran Kagura series, and is the sequel to Senran Kagura Burst. The game revolves around three female ninja groups from dueling shinobi schools. The game was released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita on February 28, 2013, in North America on October 14, 2014, and in Europe on October 15, 2014. A version for Microsoft Windows released on June 1, 2016.

<i>Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash</i> 2017 video game

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is a third-person shooting game in the Senran Kagura series, published by Marvelous and developed by Tamsoft. It was released for PlayStation 4 on March 16, 2017 in Japan, and on September 26, 2017 in North America, Europe and Australia. A Microsoft Windows version was released worldwide on March 7, 2018.

<i>Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit!</i> 2014 video game

Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! is a rhythm cooking game available for the PlayStation Vita, in which the goal is to win a cooking competition. The game was released on the PlayStation Store on November 11, 2014 for North America, and on November 12, 2014 for Europe. An enhanced version for Microsoft Windows titled Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! - Full Course was released on November 10, 2016.


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  20. A History of Eroge
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Further reading