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The term later expanded to encompass any game with romantic simulation elements, even when combined with other genres.
The gameplay involves conversing with a selection of girls, attempting to increase their internal "love meter" through correct choices of dialogue.
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.
The first game that set the standard for the dating sim genre was Dōkyūsei (1992), which relied more on timed events than dialogue choices.
However, Tokimeki Memorial (1994) truly popularized dating sims in Japan, in which the player, a high school student, has the ability to date a dozen different girls.
There are many variations on this theme: high-school romances are the most common, but a dating sim may also take place in a fantasy setting and involve such challenges as defending one's girl from monsters.