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 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.
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.
The degree of sexual content varies, but may often include intercourse.
Homosexual relationships are also possible, as there are games with no specific gender lines ("all pairings").
There are also GL games, which focus on female/female relationships, and BL Games, which focus on male/male pairings.
While the two genres often share a common visual presentation, dating sims are sometimes considered to be more statistically based than the "choose your own adventure" style of visual novels.
The technical definition of a dating simulation game, known as a romantic simulation game in Japan, can involve several technical elements such as a time limit, several statistics such as looks and charm which can be boosted through exercise, or an "attraction meter" which can increase or decrease depending on one's decisions.
Sexually explicit dating sims may fall into the category of H Game or Eroge.