Visual novels are a very popular format of video games in Japan that offer players an interactive narrative experience, and a large community of visual novel fans translate these works into English so western audiences can enjoy them. Visual novels are much like anime, except they are much longer than anime television shows, allowing the player to become enveloped in the experience of the characters and storyline.
Some visual novels tend to be mostly in a narrative form, but other visual novels can be highly interactive, giving players the ability to make choices, solve puzzles and complete mini-games that enhance the experience. This way, the player's experience becomes a story-driven form of interactive fiction, where plots are complex and richly detailed to give players an immersive experience.
Visual novels are highly popular in Japan and the phenomenon is spreading to the west, where fans of anime and manga have subsequently started producing English translations of visual novels. Many of these visual novels can be found online, although their translations are fan created and may have inaccuracies.
Visual novels come in many different genres. Romance, drama and comedy are the most common genres, but there are also titles for fans of mystery, supernatural and science fiction.