The Visual Novel Database
Screenshot of The Visual Novel Database's homepage for a guest user circa June 2022.
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The Visual Novel Database (often abbreviated as VNDB) is a community-run English-language information database about visual novels. Like its Japanese counterpart ErogameScape (EGS), VNDB not only allows for users to view and edit various pieces of information about a visual novel, but also vote on and review visual novels. It also allows users to add visual novels to a personal list with various labels.
The Visual Novel Databas was created by Yorhel after finishing reading Ever17 and being impressed by it. Prior to the creation of VNDB, most visual novel information was available only in Japanese, making it difficult for non-Japanese speakers to learn about visual novels or even to play them. He wanted to be able to find other visual novels like Ever17 and improve the visibility of visual novels. The first version of the website was released in September 2007 after three weeks of work.
In response to the initial growth, Yorhel implemented several new features to improve the user experience on VNDB, such as an advanced search function and a tagging system. He also created an API for third-party developers to use, leading to the creation of various tools that integrate with VNDB, such as visual novel recommendation engines.
The Visual Novel Database has become increasingly well-known over time, with more than 244,000 users registered on the website (as of June 2023). Its popularity can be attributed to several factors: the growing number of visual novels being translated into English; the widespread availability of visual novels on digital distribution platforms such as Steam and itch.io; and the development of a vibrant online community around visual novels, with multiple websites and forums dedicated to discussing them.
VNDB currently has over 43,000 visual novels listed (as of June 2023), most of which are Japanese in origin. Each VN page is divided into a few sections:
- Overview: The first section when viewing a visual novel's page, containing general information about the visual novel such as its its developer, length, and connections to other visual novels. Also contains an overview or synopsis of the story of the visual novel written by the user who added the entry for that visual novel to VNDB.
- Tags: Descriptive tags that users can add to visual novels, which are then used to filter the listings in VNDB's search feature. Tags can describe the genre, plot elements, the structure of the game, and so on.
- Releases: A list of all releases, editions, versions, and patches of the game and all the languages it was released in.
- Staff: Credits to staff that worked on all aspects of the game
- Characters: A list of all the characters in the visual novel, often accompanied by their respective sprites or artwork. The voice actor is usually listed if the character is voiced. A detailed view of each character can be seen along with tags associated with that character and a description of their role in the story
- User stats: Aggregated user vote data for the game
- Screenshots: Screenshots showcasing the game actually being played
- Reviews: A compilation of user reviews of the visual novel along with their votes. Users can also label a review as helpful or unhelpful.
VNDB has several features available for users to use:
- User Lists: Users can add visual novels to their personal lists and give them labels such as "Playing", "Finished", or "Wishlist". User can also create their own labels.
- Rating System: Users can rate a visual novel out of 10 on VNDB when viewing its page, with an average score being displayed when viewing the game.
- Reviews: Any user can write reviews for any visual novel listed on VNDB.
- Tags: Any user can add tags to any visual novel, as well as vote on whether they agree or disagree with the label. Common labels include "Sci-Fi", "Fantasy", and "Romance".
- Forum: VNDB has its own forum where users can discuss visual novels, video games, and other topics of interest to them. The forum provides a place for users to talk about visual novels in more conversational way than a review. Users can also use the forum to seek help or advice on how to beat a particular visual novel, or ask for recommendations on what visual novels to play next. It also gives a space for users to discuss the website itself and any improvements to make to it. detail than what they can fit into their reviews.
- Staff and Producer Pages: A page listing all visual novels made by a particular developer, with links to each of them and their VNDB pages.
- Search: VNDB provides a advanced search feature, allowing users to search on nearly any field and allowing the use of boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to further refine the search.