The term "dating sim" is also often used incorrectly in English as a generic term for romance-driven games (ren'ai games), a subject matter which is stereotypically associated with the visual novel genre.This can lead to confusion, as visual novels are considered a subgenre of adventure games and are not technically included in the dating sim genre.While bishōjo games make up the bulk of dating sims, other types of games exist.
The subplot of dating is more focused towards choosing one of several girls or guys (dependent on the player character's gender) and offering them presents or joining them on events in the game.
The Star Ocean series of RPGs also feature dating sim elements in a similar manner.
Dating sims such as Tokimeki Memorial, and some role-playing games with similar relationship based mechanics to the genre such as Persona, often give choices that have a different number of associated "mood points" which influence a player character's relationship and future conversations with a non-player character.
These games often feature a day-night cycle with a time scheduling system that provides context and relevance to character interactions, allowing players to choose when and if to interact with certain characters, which in turn influences their responses during later conversations.
Some Japanese dating sims may allow the player to have romantic or sexual relationships with characters in their teens.