I am asexual. For a lot of people, they think that means it’s some word invented on Tumblr to make someone seem edgy and cool. For me, it was simply an explanation as to why when girls in my high school were drooling over guys who were still telling fart jokes, I would look at them like they were some unknown life forms. I figured out my identity just at the start of college, and actually came out on TAY when some folks were jokingly referring to me as good potential girlfriend material. It seemed smart to clear any misconceptions even though I know they were just teasing. Now in spite of the fact that I rather stick my hand in a beehive than near a person’s nether regions, and I’m as squeamish around discussions of sex as most people are viewing open heart surgery, it doesn’t mean I’m some kind of inhuman robot without feelings. Because while I’m asexual, I’m not aromantic (for the record, not saying aromantic people *are* robots, just that people think a lot of aro/ace people are devoid of emotions or senses of humor) and am capable of understanding and feeling love, loss and the human condition. And while in high school I watched with genuine confusion the mismatched escapades of people dating and trying to get laid, ironically, I’ve always been fond of romantic subplots in fiction. Generally I avoid strictly romantic stories, but I’ve been a major ‘shipper’ since back in the day, with a plethora of non-canonical art signed to my name as I’ve grown attached to fictional characters and their fictional love lives (goddamn it why was Maka and Soul never canon?!) In addition to liking anime, movies, shows and other stories that least have some strongly implied romantic elements, I’ve always gravitated more towards games that at least put a partial focus on the relationships between the characters themselves in addition to the big story. Even more so where romance is a mechanic of the game.

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The stereotype for the typical dating sim and VN fan is some horny, lonely Otaku loser who just plays for the porn and waifus, so it always comes with some shock to people when an ace woman comes in to defend the genres. I really can’t explain why I like dating sims and Visual Novels. I think part of it has to do with being able to move two characters who I think are compatible together. Maybe I just like exploring an aspect of humanity that isn’t 100% in my wheel house. I understand the need to reach out and make connections with other people, and I understand how we grow attached to the people in our lives, and the ones we grow most attached to are ones we never want to see sad or stressed and knowing they are happy makes you happy too. But the idea of seeing someone who is aesthetically pleasing and developing a connection on things like ‘chemistry’ or a ‘spark’ seem like nothing short of witchcraft to me.

Or maybe I just really like doe-eyed animal girls. Who knows.

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Nevertheless, I find the genre engrossing and I consume hours and hours in games where getting to know the characters and pursue relationships with them is an important part of the story or gameplay. In additional to Visual Novels and Dating Sims, I will actively seek out any RPGs, puzzle games or anything else that promises ‘multiple endings with various characters.’ I had never played a Fire Emblem game before Awakening, but I would grind for hours just to build up relationships between characters just to find out what would happen next. I didn’t care the least bit which characters would produce the strongest offspring or the best strategy, it was all about which characters seem cutest together. So while some players were producing powerful armies to pile drive the game, I was gushing over how adorable Gaius and Lissa were together and snickering as I ended up with King Husbando, Chrom. Despite the fact that I have grown to hate Dungeon Crawlers, I look forward with great anticipation to the next Persona game, and am surviving the dungeons in Conception II because I know beating them means I get to have more time with the female characters. One of the reasons I got sold on playing Aterlier Iris: Eternal Mana (an entirely impulsive buy that I almost never, ever engage in) was someone saying how fun it was to get to know the storekeepers. The Ar Tonelico games are filled with raunchy jokes, titillating costumes and fan service-y attacks, yet they remain one of my favorite RPG series because I love the diving part of the games.

I also play Eroge games.

I tend to skip or fast forward the sex scenes because they don’t interest me, and will play censored versions where available, but I will also be the first one to defend Eroge VNs when people try to call them porn. I get super excited when I learn more and more VNs are going to get localized, and even though I can’t afford to play too many, I get them when I can. Right now I’m saving up to get the Muv-Luv games because everyone on Ani-TAY can’t say enough good things about the series. Ironically I’ve never played an Otome game, though I might look into Amnesia. My favorite is Katawa Shoujo.

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I’ve rooted for pairings in games that never have and never will come to fruition. I’ve drawn art of two characters I felt like they really cared about each other hugging and kissing. I’ve discussed possibilities with like-minded friends, and wrote stories for my own amusement where characters came together. Much of my original comics contain romantic pairings, though not always.

I can imagine that this is probably not my most graceful or entertaining of articles. Typically, my writing is filled with goofy jokes or self-deprecation. I don’t take very much very seriously. I try to keep fair opinions and be as informative and accurate as I can. This is mostly because I can distance myself from a lot of things. What I am bringing up now is rather intimate, a real part of a real person’s life from a perspective a lot of people may not know about or even be aware exists. But since for theme week the subject is love, I’ve decided to speak about it as best as I know how.

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I don’t claim to represent all asexual people, and I shouldn’t be that ‘one friend’ you quote when you talk to someone about the subject. Not all ace people care about love, not all ace people are capable of feeling or understanding romantic love, not all ace people are squeamed out by sex. I’m ace, I like video games, and I love video games that explore love. This has just been an insight of one person’s perspective on a subject that seems to dominate large parts of our culture and media. Because I’m not interested in sex, and generally repulsed by certain depictions, my views of love, titillation, nudity, fan service and sex scenes in narrative is going to be a lot different that someone with sexual desires. But in spite of that and the emphasis on sex in culture, I do care about love, and I like love in video games a great deal. Just my view of it is from an entirely different viewpoint.