A visual novel (Japanese: ビジュアルノベル, Hepburn: bijuaru noberu), often abbreviated as VN, is an interactive fiction video game genre, featuring text-based story with narrative style of literature and interactivity aided by static or sprite-based visuals, most often using anime-style art or occasionally live-action stills (and sometimes video footage). As the name suggests, they resemble mixed-media novels.
Visual novels originated in and are especially prevalent in Japan, where they made up nearly 70% of the PC game titles released in 2006. In Japanese, a distinction is often made between visual novels (NVL, from "novel"), which consist primarily of narration and have very few interactive elements, and adventure games (AVG or ADV, from "adventure"), which incorporate problem-solving and other types of gameplay. This distinction is normally lost outside Japan, where both NVLs and ADVs are commonly referred to as "visual novels" by international fans.
Visual novels are rarely produced for video game consoles, but the more popular games have occasionally been ported to systems such as the Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, PlayStation Portable, or Xbox 360. The more famous visual novels are also often adapted into light novels, manga or anime. The market for visual novels outside of East Asia is small, though a number of anime based on visual novels are popular among anime fans in the Western world; examples include Clannad, Steins;Gate, and Fate/stay night.
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