When the game ends, the player either loses the game if he failed to properly win over any of the girls, or "finishes" one of the girls, often by having sex with her, marrying her (as in Magical Date), and/or achieving eternal love.
This can lead to confusion, as visual novels are considered a subgenre of adventure games and are not technically included in the dating sim genre.
While the two genres often share a common visual presentation, dating sims are sometimes considered to be more statistically based than the "choose your own adventure" style of visual novels.
The Star Ocean series of RPGs also feature dating sim elements in a similar manner.
Some Japanese dating sims may allow the player to have romantic or sexual relationships with characters in their teens.
The gameplay involves conversing with a selection of girls, attempting to increase their internal "love meter" through correct choices of dialogue.
The game lasts for a fixed period of game time, such as one month or three years.
These games often feature a day-night cycle with a time scheduling system that provides context and relevance to character interactions, allowing players to choose when and if to interact with certain characters, which in turn influences their responses during later conversations.
While bishōjo games make up the bulk of dating sims, other types of games exist.
The censored version contains far more endings and new added scenes due to the absence of sexual scenes.
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One game series that often includes dating, with the goal of marriage, is the farming sim series Harvest Moon.