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Dating sims, or relationship simulation role-playing game (RS-RPG), are a video game subgenre of simulation games, usually Japanese, with romantic elements.
The game lasts for a fixed period of game time, such as one month or three years.
When the game ends, the player either loses the game if he failed to properly win over any of the girls, or "finishes" one of the girls, often by having sex with her, marrying her (as in Magical Date), and/or achieving eternal love.
This gives the games more replay value, since the player can focus on a different girl each time, trying to get a different ending.
Dating sims such as Tokimeki Memorial often revolve almost entirely around relationship-building, usually featuring complex character interactions and branching dialogue trees, and often presenting the player's possible responses word-for-word as the player character would say them.
Dating sims such as Tokimeki Memorial, and some role-playing games with similar relationship based mechanics to the genre such as Shin Megami Tensei: 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.