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But as social norms shift, Western dating sim players are multiplying and becoming more open about their love lives and love of the genre.
In 2014, it was reported that over 22 million women worldwide were playing dating sims and most of this comes from the genre's increasing accessibility outside of Japan as well as Western developers making games patterned after them.
What the Western market capitalized on is a formula to reduce the amount of shame felt while playing a dating sim while also creating an in-depth role-playing experience that can tap into all aspects of human emotions.Dating games are for lonely women and socially inept men who would rather marry a sexy anime character on a pillow than talk to a real girl. And that's the same stigma for all hobbies we consider feminine from romance novels to knitting.It's usually acceptable for girls and young women to like them, but if a guy expresses interest he's considered unmasculine or creepy.However, most men, especially in the West, would feel too embarrassed to say they play bishōjo erotic games.That stigma I mentioned before kept many fans closeted for decades and there are still a few even today who aren't quite comfortable being public about it.