Visual novels have been around for a long time, but they are increasing in popularity as more players look for ways to support indie developers.
At Game Developers of Color Expo 2021, Kai Little-White, a writer and storyteller, gave an inspiring talk called “Hacking Barriers to Diversity with Visual Novels and Speculative Sci-Fi” in which she talked about how important this medium can be because it is so accessible to young creators. For aspiring game developers, it can be difficult to get necessary funding or find which aspect of development they can slot themselves into, and visual novels – an increasingly diverse genre featuring unique voices in the games spectrum – can provide part of the solution.
One of the most universal ways that humans communicate and connect with each other is through storytelling, and video games are becoming increasingly story-driven, with more players valuing games for their narrative gameplay and deep lore. Visual novels are an excellent example, focused as they are almost exclusively on dialogue and story. Over the years video games have grown to be one of the most immersive ways for people to experience a narrative, regardless of genre, but game development is time-consuming and expensive, and thus presents a significant barrier for many creators. Little-White found visual novels to be an answer to these problems, something she describes as “a loophole in the firewall of AAA gaming.” These types of games can be a revolutionary way of giving marginalized people a voice in an industry that is often one-sided.