When it comes to the general tastes in female players who play otome games, the majority prefers an MC who can be forward but is also submissive.
This translates to an MC that is confident in general, but when it comes to romance or sex, she will not take the lead. This is the type that appeals to most players, a mixture of submissive and dominant.
These players want the MC to be active during sex, but not be in control. They don’t want to dom anyone, they simply prefer a more mutual engagement between MC and LI.
Then of course, there are the people who don’t want a dominant (or in this case, assertive) MC at all, they prefer her to be more submissive (25%), or full on submissive (3%).
And then there’s the last group; the players who prefer a dominant MC (12%).
That tiny sliver of people who want to play as a dominant MC. Not just every now and then, but to actually take the lead. Be in control. Do the pursuing. Tease the LI. Only 12% of players enjoy playing as a dominant MC.
Even less prefer having a submissive LI (10%).
Most otome games have a submissive MC. I understand why – it’s to appeal to most players. And that’s simply the truth; most players will relate to a submissive MC. This MC will be swept off her feet, generally be inexperienced in romance and sex, and blush a whole lot.
MCs like Fuka from Ozmafia! or Chizuru Yukimura from Hakuoki.
Western players are a little iffy on the ‘inexperienced in romance and sex’ part and enjoy an MC that is more savvy in those departments, but still gets swept off her feet. or they simply want an MC with more sass. Hence why the majority prefers a ‘mixture of both’.
You see these types of MCs in most modern Voltage games, or newly released Western indie games, such as Lucette from Cinderella Phenomenon, or Nora from Changeling.
But where are those dominant MCs?
There may be some I haven’t played yet but they’re not in English.
Even a game like Norn9 where you can choose your own MC, still only had the option between a kuudere, genki and tsundere. Mikoto is the closest to being sort of dominant, but she is very much a submissive in Itsuki’s route, and still doesn’t take control of her romance in Natsuhiko’s route. Nanami was way too aromantic to even appear dominant.
Even Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome, which kind of marketed itself as having a dominant and submissive LI, had a…. submissive MC. Miki, who was supposed to be the submissive LI, took charge in any sexual encounter. He was ‘submissive’ in the sense that the game had MC step on Miki as a gag and at some point she teased his nipples. That is the extend of being ‘dominant’. Miki still took control. He wasn’t submissive at all.
Games featuring truly dominant MCs are… so rare, they may as well not exist.
As someone part of that 12% of players who prefer a dominant MC, I feel invisible. I have always liked couples with a reversed power dynamic. I liked the women to be confident and even flirty or teasing. The guy was always the one ending up getting flustered, or simply follows along because he’s whipped.
Dynamics such as Temari and Shikamaru from Naruto:
Artist K A R T A S M I T A
Seo and Waka from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun:
Holy and Jamie from Oh! Holy:
Bulma and Vegeta from Dragonball:
Even Jessie and James from Pokémon!
While I for sure, like submissive LIs, and my favourite pairing is a dominant MC with a submissive LI, however, what I simply enjoy the most… is playing as a dominant MC.
That means I can enjoy any type of LI, as long as the MC is dominant in some way and controls the flow of the relationship. This is usually why I enjoy tsundere routes because the MC tends to have more ‘spunk’ to be able to squabble with the tsundere. However, it’s only on the surface, she is still submissive in romance and sex. She may confess her feelings to the tsundere first, but in the end, the tsundere takes over.
Any route where I’m forced to play as a MC that is shy, reserved, unemotional, naive, or inexperienced in romance – I tend to really dislike those games. Even the LI, who I could happen to like, can not save the game for me. This is why I really ended up hating Ozmafia, because the MC was a naive child, reminiscent of the born sexy yesterday trope (minus the sexy). It’s also why I adore Yamazaki from Hakuoki, but I really do not like the Yamazaki/Chizuru pairing.
I recognize I’m the minority here. Plenty of people like these types of MC and there’s – in general – nothing wrong with having an MC like this. It becomes an issue when it’s the only type of MC you’re playing in otome games.
To someone who prefers dominant MCs, I just really feel left out. There’s a lot of content for people who enjoy shy MCs, or MCs that are kinda sassy, but still let the LI be in control. But where’s the content for me?
There’s another otome developer Yoshibb who writes dominant MCs (she did My Only Sunshine & 2 Minutes for Roughing), but I think that’s pretty much the extend of content available. Unless I’m missing something here. I know The Arcana features a submissive LI and I believe you can be dominant (though the gender is not specifically female), but I’m not touching that game with a ten foot pole due to drama surrounding the developers itself.
Taisho x Alice has an MC that takes charge of her romance and is very, VERY forward. While the MC is supposed to be dominant, it feels like it’s just done as a gag. Every time she acts forwards or flirty, it’s set in a comedic light. I feel like – as a player who wants to play as a dominant female lead – that I’m being made fun of for thinking I could legit play like this. All of her flirty interactions have this mocking tone to it. I’m not even covering the issues I have with the game’s writing in the first place.
I knew I would have to create the content I wanted myself. That’s why in Tailor Tales, the MC is always able to play as ‘fierce’. Though she will be dominant regardless of the choices in both Aiden and Dimitri’s route, who are also the submissive LIs.
Dimitri ended up surprising a lot of people, with a number of fans, which makes me happy. However, I know Aiden will get less fans due to being a strict dominant/submissive dynamic (with a focus on gentle femdom), but I hope people will give him a shot regardless.
And I don’t only add a dominant MC with submissive LIs to my game, there are also side romances with that dynamic.
Sarah & Kevin.
Læna & Billius.
I hope to continue to add more dominant MCs as well as a dominant x submissive dynamic to my game. If the content doesn’t exist, I guess I’ll just have to make it myself, but I hope that there will be a game (or games!!!) with a dominant MC to cater to that 12% of otome players.
Variety is the spice of life, and I want to be spicy.