Articles

Boys Love Media Survey Results


Demographics

We’ll start off with the first series of questions- who took the survey?

☑️ Age

Out of 222 responses, 38.7% of people (86 people) said they were between the age of 19-25.

37.4% (83 people) said they were 26-35.
11.3% said they were 16-18.
6.3% said they were 36-45.
5% said they were 13-15.

In the future, we’ll break up the ages even further to be more precise.

At first glance, this fully disproves our hypothesis that a majority of yaoi fans (remember, by “yaoi fans” we don’t mean the entirety of BL fans) are minors. However, we need to take into consideration possible reasons for this. I did post this survey in several yaoi Amino groups, which definitely skew towards people younger than 20 (see the poll results below). However, this does not mean that those users stopped scrolling, opened the post, clicked the link, and finished the survey. So while younger fans had the opportunity to see this survey, we theorize that most kept scrolling.

☑️ Gender

The answer to the “big” question everyone assumes: the vast majority of BL fans are girls, right? Well…

Out of 220 responses, 58.6% of people (129 people) said they are female.

27.3% (60 people) said they are male.
8.2% (18 people) preferred not to say.
3 people said they are non-binary.
2 people said they are genderfluid.
2 people said they are agender.

The choices for this question were female, male, prefer not to say, and a blank write-in option.

While female is the majority, it’s not an overwhelming majority- over a quarter of the people who took the survey are male!

☑️ Social Media

“What social media do you use at least once a month?”
This question was multiple choice, meaning users could pick however many choices were accurate and also input their own.

Out of 222 answers, Twitter was the most used platform with 73.4% of people (163 people) using it at least once a month.

Discord was the second most-used, with 64% of people (142 people) using it at least once a month.

Aside from Twitter and Discord, Instagram and Facebook were both highly used by a little less than half of the people who responded. Tumblr and Reddit were used monthly by a little less than 1/3rd of the users, which is still a lot.

The answers at the bottom with low percentages are user-inputted ones. YouTube popped up a lot but due to my own bias I did not include it because I assumed most people use YouTube at least once a month. Even though this feels like a safe assumption, I should have included it anyway.

☑️ Continent

“What continent do you currently live in?”
We didn’t go super in-depth with regions and where people live, though this would be a good thing to explore in the future. We asked a simple “what continent are you on?” question, with unsurprising answers.

Out of 222 responses, 42.8% of people (95 people) said they live in North America. 36.5% of people (81 people) said they live in Europe.

9.9% of people said they live in Asia.
5.4% of people said they live in Australia.
5% of people said they live in South America.
1 person said they live in Africa.


Boys Love Media

☑️ Media Preference

“What BL (boys love) content do you consume the most?”
Choices: Anime; Games; Manga; Fan content (fanfiction, fanart); Dramas (TV shows); Other (fill in the blank).

Out of 222 responses, 41.4% of people (92 people) said they mostly consume manga. 30.2% of people (67 people) said they mostly consume fan content such as fanfiction and fanart.

We forgot to add choices for things like webcomics—something to think about in the future. Most people seem to enjoy reading BL manga, though.

☑️ Content Creation

What types of BL content do you create yourself?”
Choices: Webcomics / Manga; Animations / Videos; Fan art; Original art; Fan fiction; Original fiction; Games; Reviews; I don’t create any fan or original BL content; Other (fill in the blank).

This question was multiple choice where people could select multiple answers as well as input their own answer.

Out of 221 responses, 33.5% of people (74 people) said they do not create any BL content. 30.8% of people (68 people) said they create BL fan art.

When we initially posted the survey, the fan art and original art and such were just two choices- Fan art / original character art and Fan fiction / original fiction. We quickly realized that these need to be split up further, hence the change.

☑️ BL Games Objection

Note: “objection” just means “why you don’t use the product”.

“If you don’t play BL games, what’s stopping you?”
Choices: Money; Access to the platforms the games are on; Awareness of BL games; I don’t like the aesthetics / content of most; I vastly prefer other forms of BL content; Other (fill in the blank).

This question was multiple choice where people could select multiple answers as well as input their own answer.

Out of 129 responses, 43.4% of people (56 people) said that money is the main reason they do not play BL games.

29.5% of people said they don’t like the aesthetics / content of most.
26.4% of people said they don’t have access to the platforms the games are on.
24.8% of people said they aren’t aware of BL games.
23.3% of people said they vastly prefer other forms of BL content.

There were quite a few fill in the blank answers, so I’ll highlight some of them (unedited) here:

“I mostly use “good gameply” as a criteria of which games I play”

Time

“I do play what I can find. But normally theyre japanese 🙁 I only speak english”

Language (not many have Chinese translation)”

“All of the ones I’m interested in are in development!! I play the demos to any I can get my hands on though.”

“Parents are heavily Christian so if they saw it on my PayPal History, I would be destroyed.”

☑️ Interest in BL Games

“If you don’t play BL games, what would get you interested in them?”
This question was an optional long answer question. There were 62 responses. Here are several highlighted (unedited) responses.

“Better writing, better character development, art that isn’t so typically anime”

“An interesting plot and exciting gameplay”

The Japanese mobile games I’ve seen had no depth in writing, as they’re being produced like in a factory. And I guess a wider range of them. Most seem to just advertise themselves with their 18+ scenes, but it would be nice to hear from a game, that’s more shounen-ai, maybe in the style of Mangaka Kii Kanna?

“good art, story about consensual relationship aka not the fetishized one, other people’s review”

“Hmm possibly better quality but also It’d be fun for some that are interactive and not just most of the time reading because they’re not moving or anything while you read-it gets boring”

Less fetishization and more awareness of the negative social expectations for men.”

“Authenticity and stories including consent”

“Less anime/manga cliches and archetypes, deeper and more mature storytelling

Less fetishizing and meant-for-straight-girls writing”

“Great aesthetic and where the story takes priority over romance. I don’t really like the R-18 scenes in general in BL Games.”

“TBHI don’t hear much about BL games, but if I came across one that seemed interesting and was easily accessible to me, I’d probably check it out.”

cuter characters and ability to choose to be seme or uke. In most Bl games, you’re usually forced to be uke.”

“From the ones I do know, though I am aware of very few, the aesthetics/content are largely not my thing. There are likely ones out there that are more my thing, but I am not really sure where to look for them. For a game I think I would generally prefer content that is more slowburn-ish, and also where the main focus of the narrative is not necessarily the relationship, instead on another story element, but of course where the relationships still play a huge role.”

better gameplay, like more interaction with the game, not just reading a visual novel, fanfics do a better job at keeping you interested than visual novels.”

“I would not pay for games over $10, so maybe have them be cheaper?”

“I like playing except that they are not free.”

SPEEDROUND TIME! (Italics means it’s a direct answer)

  • Juicy plots
  • Animation
  • A good story (x2)
  • More accessibility
  • Cheaper, easier to get
  • Character creator
  • Availability (x2)
  • Good gameplay
  • Bara
  • Demo
  • Emotional realism
  • Variety
  • Non-anime and more realistic (x3)
  • Femboys
  • I’m not sure

…As we can see, there’s a lot of variety in these answers. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that there’s so many different types of people interested in BL media and all of them are interested in different types of BL media. Some people only want bara; some only want twinks. It’s a bit hard to process exactly what would get some people interested besides eye-catching artwork, gameplay, and a good story that isn’t fetisizing.

☑️ Future Stuff in BL Games

“If you do play BL games, what would you like to see in future BL titles?”
This question was an optional long answer response. It received 113 responses. Here are some of the (unedited) responses.

“Something with a similar tone/content to my favorite otome, like CollarxMalice and Code: Realize.”

Longer playtime + more scenes/content (Like m/f VNs often have date scenes and etc)”

“adult story and but not focusing on the erotic side, but rather how the relationship between the characters grow”

“Umm from the couple I’ve played I’d just like more interaction but VR would be amazing oh and mobile versions”

“Mostly more available in English, there are hardly any. Also would like less disturbing elements and more romance focus… the nitroplus titles are a bit much for my tastes.”

More realistic looking characters – older romanceable characters (between 30 and 50 years) – more experienced characters – better stories and more emotion induced writing – better care of bad endings (they often seem like an afterthought) – fewer Anime stereotypical characters”

“I’d like to see more fantasy settings… a lot BL titles tend to focus mainly on realistic/historical/etc. I’m also a fan of darker situations, but I understand younger fans may shy away from titles with such content. Maybe make it available as a free/optional patch?”

Men treated like men and not aimed at straight girls/acting like shoujo girls, more mature stories and no justified rape/questionable behavior. Less jealous bad guys too”

“A lot of BL stuff is more catered towards younger audience, and the characters end up falling into the very stereotypical tropes. Majority are also usually younger/at a more youthful stage in their life (20s or lower). I’m just too old for this now LOL”

More deeper fantasy, steampunk or satire, more sophisticated themes/stories, less slice-of-life”

Diversity in character choices impacting the overall story of the game and wider diversity of cast characters – different looks, nationalities, cultures, stories”

“Tbh I really want to see people push the boundaries with storytelling, sometimes I feel like a lot of new titles being developed feels like they focus on following trends to me…sometimes they feel a little cliche and predictable. This isn’t all BL games recently, because there definitely are games that are pushing limits and I love it. But, if you ask me, I wish more devs would put a LOT more effort into the writing, I want to feel things!! I want more characterization!!! MC’s/love interests with some grey morality!!! I want to be blown away!! OH—and definitely more older characters…gimme middle aged men…please…”

“Hmm. There’s like a big difference to a General yaoi and lgbt. Since yaoi is for the female demographic or Japan origin. That said, I like playing yaoi VN games more since I grew up reading them rather than the western ones. I’d like to see BL games have more distinction in terms of the difference of these two since they differ in audience. Possibly, in order to avoid the public’s conflicted expectations.”

“kisses, cuddles, bros being bros, sharing food, wrestling”

“Right now, BL games in the western world is severely lacking in quantity, but is making some headway in popularity in recent years. So I think there just needs to be more people developing BL games. But from what i’ve played so far, while I love the standard VN, they’re mostly all really short and can be consumed within a day and can easily lose it’s replay-ability. I personally would like to see either longer VN’s or more diverse story route options. Also just more BL games branching out of VN’s or making a unique BL, like how Danganronpa redefined and pushed the concept of VN’s”

“More of them, with a deeper focus on romance rather than just sex, and also more sensible prices.”

“A good plot and characters without porn or sex scenes.”

“There’s already been a paradigm shift in that respect, but I’d like to see more story-driven BL titles where characters truly are part of the overall plot instead of being plot-independent. Exit shallow interactions between the characters as well for a deeper connection with everyone involved in the story. It might also be a good idea to stray from the (too) classical paths: typical stories + clichéd characters start being annoying at some point, although cliché-esque well-fleshed out characters might still prove entertaining and engaging. Last but not least, relatable characters (especially the MC): interactions in some BL titles (anime, manga, games) feel at times extremely inadequate, awkward or even nonsensical.”

“More non-vn styles of gameplay (can be incorporated into vns)”

“BL games with soft, fluffy romances! Trans representation. No non-con, abuse, death.”

SPEEDROUND TIME! (Italics means it’s a direct answer)

  • More of them
  • Better PLOTS
  • Android / Mobile ports (x2)
  • Muscles
  • Comedic / lighthearted tones
  • Customization
  • Fantasy worlds
  • Older characters
  • Quality
  • Catboys
  • Good / Actual stories
  • Polygamy
  • Shounen stuff
  • Option to top or bottom (x3)
  • More diverse body types
  • Wholesome stories
  • Them being released on pc
  • More horror
  • More animations
  • Good tragedy
  • Enthusiastic masochism
  • More plot less dicks xD

Again, a wide bag of responses here! Some people assumed that we were talking about 18+ games or at the very least gave their opinion only for 18+ games, as some answers talked about only sexual stuff. Meanwhile some people answered that they want more wholesome games.

☑️ Playing BL Games

“Have you played a BL game in the last 3 months?”
Quick and easy question- the choices were either Yes, No, or Not sure.

Out of 220 responses, 57.7% of people (127 people) responded with Yes.

37.7% of people (83 people) said No.
4.5% of people (10 people) said Not sure.

☑️ Finding New BL Media

“Where do you find out about new BL media?”
Choices: Blogs; Gaming/anime/manga review sites; Fan artists; Store fronts (Crunchyroll for anime, Steam / Itchio for games, etc.); From friends; Social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Amino, etc.); Discord servers; Other (fill in the blank).

Out of 222 responses, 76.6% of people (170 people) said they find out about new BL media from social media.

39.6% of people (88 people) said they find out about new BL media through fanartists.

Let’s Plays, 4chan, and LemmaSoft were all user-inputted answers.

Here’s a few other user-inputted answers:

  • Conventions
  • Forums like AarinFantasy
  • Kickstarter
  • Reddit
  • Manga websites

Clearly, in hindsight, we should have further broken down the social media choices, but I digress.

☑️ Budget for BL Media

“About how much do you spend on BL media a month?”
Choices: $0; $1-19; $20-50; $51-75; $76-120; $121-200; $200-500; $500+.

Out of 222 responses, 36% of people (80 people) said they spend nothing on BL media each month.

34.7% of people (77 people) said they spend around $1-19 a month.
22.5% of people (50 people) said they spend around $20-50 a month.
4.1% of people said they spend $51-75 a month.
1.4% of people said they spend $76-120 a month.
2 people said they spend $121-200 a month.
1 person said they spend $200-500 a month.

☑️ Languages

“What language do you consume BL media in?”
Choices: English; Japanese; Spanish; Chinese; German; French; Other (fill in the blank).

This question was multiple choices so people could pick more than one answer.

Out of 222 responses, 96.4% of people (214 people) said they view BL media in English.

26.6% of people (59 people) said they view BL media in Japanese.
8.6% of people (19 people) said they view BL media in French.
4.5% of people (10 people) said they view BL media in German.
4.1% of people (9 people) said they view BL media in Spanish.
2.7% of people (6 people) said they view BL media in Chinese.

Russian, Portuguese, Italian, and Korean were all user-inputted answers.

One thing to note for this answer—a majority of the places that I and foleso advertised this are predominately English-speaking places.

☑️ Otome Games

“Do you play otome (girl x boy) games?”
Choices: Yes; No; Maybe, can’t remember.

This was a quick question I added in on a hunch after the survey had started spreading. If a fair amount of the people answering the survey are women, do they also perhaps play otome games?

Out of 131 responses, 51.9% of people (68 people) said Yes, they do play otome games.

38.2% of people (50 people) said No.
9.9% of people (13 people) said Maybe.

While it’s definitely not true that all otome fans enjoy BL, it does look like there’s a correlation of a fair amount of BL fans playing otome games.

After going through each of the answers by hand, here’s some more stats.

41 people who said they play otome games are female. 15 are male, 6 prefer not to say, 3 are genderfluid, and the rest are other.

30 people who said they play otome games are between the ages of 19-25. 22 people said they are between 26-35. 10 people said they are between 16-18. 5 people said they are between 36-45. 1 person said they are between 13-15.


BL Preferences

☑️ Preferred Body Types & Looks

“Do you have a preferred body type / look for the cast in BL media?”
Choices: Yes, I prefer bara (muscular); Yes, I prefer bishie (bishounen, toned but not overly muscular nor skinny); Yes, I prefer twink (skinnier); No, I don’t have a preference; I prefer a mixture; Other (fill in the blank).

This choice was mostly to see how many people like bara, since that has somewhat become synonymous with yaoi in some places on the Internet. While this is a pretty linear question, we offered people the choice to write in an answer in case we forgot something.

Out of 222 responses, 36% of people (80 people) said they prefer bishies.

32.4% of people (72 people) said they prefer a mixture.
14% of people (31 people) said they don’t have a preference.
8.1% of people (18 people) said they prefer bara.
7.2% of people (16 people) said they prefer twinks.

☑️ Genres / Story Types

“What genres / types of BL stories do you prefer most?”
Choices: Fantasy; Sci-Fi; Modern; Historical; Drama; Mystery; Horror; Fluffy & Cute; Light, slice of life; Mostly light with some serious moments; Heavier and emotional but not dark; Dark but not completely hopeless; As dark as coffee; High school; College; Adults; Other (fill in the blank).

This question is more of a “what do you personally like in your BL stories?”. The choices are multiple choice so people could pick however many they wanted.

Out of 221 responses, 67.9% of people (150 people) said they prefer fantasy.

I find it somewhat interesting that not more people voted for sci-fi, since a fair amount of BL games on Kickstarter have been sci-fi.

Let’s go over some of the (unedited) user inputted answers:

modern fantasy (superheroes, supernatural, etc.)”

“I like all truly- As long as there’s a good plot I’m here for it 👌”

“i like every type/genra it’s really depend on what i feel like”

“With a touch of comedy

“Work life/male dominated jobs that aren’t just office jobs.”

“soulmates AU/Alpha&Omega dynimics”

Mystery, but with no pairings/routes with whoever the culprit is.”

☑️ Viewing 18+ Media

“Do you view 18+ BL media?”
Choices: Yes; Sometimes; Rarely; No.

Out of 222 responses, 86.5% of people (192 people) responded with yes.

6.8% of people (15 people) said sometimes.
5.4% of people (12 people) said rarely.
3 people said no.

One thing to note for this question—we didn’t ask “do you have a preference for 18+ BL media”. This question could easily be construed as “have you ever viewed 18+ BL media”, and we should have asked a followup “do you prefer 18+ or all ages BL media”.

☑️ Viewing All Ages Media

“Do you view all ages BL media?”
Choices: Yes; Sometimes; Rarely; No.

Out of 222 responses, 72.5% of people (161 people) said yes.

18% of people (40 people) said sometimes.
8.1% of people (18 people) said rarely.
3 people said no.

Side note: somehow both of these questions had exactly 3 people vote no for them, and they’re not the same people for each. I checked.


This was the end of the original survey. However, after sharing it around some and talking to people, we realized we still had some more questions or needed more specifics. So, I created an extra section at the end that was optional, where users could skip the section to end the survey or continue to it.

Fun fact: 91.1% of people (113 people) said yes, they wanted to continue to the extra section while 8.9% of people (11 people) said no.

BL Games

☑️ Favorite BL Game

“If you have played a BL game, what is your favorite one?”

This is a simple, optional long answer question that 75 people responded to. I’ll list some of the most popular answers below.

☑️ Preferred Art Styles

“What art styles do / would you like in BL games?”
Choices: Shounen anime style; More generic anime style; Moe, cute; Semi-realistic; Realistic; Other (fill in the blank).

This question was multiple choices so people could pick more than one answer.

Out of 110 responses, 64.5% of people (71 people) said they prefer shounen anime styles.

50.9% of people (56 people) prefer a more generic anime styles.
45.5% of people (50 people) prefer a semi-realistic styles.
22.7% of people (25 people) prefer a moe, cute styles.
14.5% of people (16 people) prefer a realistic styles.

As a visual novel developer who’s been around VN fans for years, it’s a bit of a surprise to hear this many people are okay with semi-realistic art styles! It does seem that people want more shounen/bishounen art styles rather than anything too realistic and too cutesy—a middle ground that’s both anime and handsome.

We also had a few fill in the blank answers that I’ll quote (unedited) below.

“Semi-realistic, western comic book styles”

“anything as long as it has a distinctive style”

stylized, but not in an anime style. more westernized i guess”

“Not really semi-realistic but this one that usually appears in seinen thrillers”

“Dramatical Murder style – realistic, but still anime. Needs cel-shading.”

☑️ Disliked Art Styles

“What art styles do / would you dislike in BL games?”
Choices: Shounen anime style; More generic anime style; Moe, cute; Semi-realistic; Realistic; Other (fill in the blank).

This question was multiple choices so people could pick more than one answer.

Out of 100 responses, 53% of people (53 people) said the dislike realistic styles.

46% of people dislike moe, cute styles.
17% of people dislike semi-realistic styles.
16% of people dislike more generic anime styles.
7 people dislike shounen anime styles.

Note: Bara was a user-inputted answer that 4 people wrote.

Here are some other user-inputted answers:

Inconsistent style within BL games + Over-the-top moe style”

“The generic BL art style from 90s and 2000s.”

Shota, one’s where they look underage >_< *cough Camp Buddy*”

“I’m not super into 3d, but if the 3d art can be somewhat stylized and models have some expressions, I usually dig that”

“overly moe, to the point where they just look like kids. :/”

“anything to generic or plain ugly”

“All bara characters”

☑️ Platforms

“What platforms can you play BL games on?”
Choices: Windows PC; MacOS; Linux; Android Phone; Android Tablet; iOS Phone; Switch; PS4; XBOX; PS Vita; Other (fill in the blank).

This question was multiple choices so people could pick more than one answer.

Out of 111 responses, 86.5% of people (96 people) said they can play BL games on Windows PC.

44.1% of people (49 people) said they can play on Android phones.
31.5% of people (35 people) said they can play on the Switch.
25.2% of people (28 people) said they can play on the iPhone.
19.8% of people (22 people) said they can play on the PS4.
9.9% of people (11 people) said they can play on Android tablets.
8 people said they can play on MacOS.
5 people said they can play on the XBOX.
3 people said they can play on Linux.
2 people said they can play on the PS Vita.

☑️ BL Media Likes

“What do you like most about BL media?”

This was an optional long answer question. We had 73 responses. Here are some of the (unedited) answers:

“A good story with beautiful guys.”

“the representation, i just want to see myself in the media, yknow?”

“The fresh take on romance and smut compared to more heteronormative media”

“I like getting attached to characters and find out they die in one way or another, *angst*”

“The plot (no joke). I like a good story that really makes my heart clench.”

“There is a lot”

“Being able to be a guy allowed to pursue other guys and see them be cute together, that and I’m tired of seeing heterosexual media because it’s already done countless times”

“Their cute, romantic moments.”

“It’s fun! Also, pairings with two cute boys are even better than one cute boy. (I don’t care about romancing girls at all.)”

“For VNs specifically, the sense of distance from the reader — the protagonist is more likely to be a developed character than a generic faceless character like many otome & bishoujo games, and that prompts the reader to experience the story as a voyeur rather than self-inserting, which in turn can make it easier to explore darker subjects without getting uncomfortable, or just sex in general.”

“The diversity in stories it offers -usually- as opposed to most otome games.”

“I just want more gay romance and gay representation, and BL could just fill that void, but it needs some major improvement.”

“I relate more to the characters”

“It’s made with female audience in mind so it panders to me. Some of it handles issues queer people face and some is more like escapist fantasy for queers like me. No female love interest so I’m not “forced” to relate to the characters. Nice break from all the media with bunch of men and women with no chemistry kissing just because they’re men and women in mainstream media.”

“I like seeing pretty men falling in love, the confusion/troubles that causes and how in the end love is stronger than anything on their way. I really like how passionate and strong is love in BL.”

“The chance to immerse myself in stories and imagination or likenesses of the author’s view. Also the art/ aesthetics.”

“I like the feeling of unfamiliar familiarity in the feelings described though the characters are not my gender. I like that because they’re often made with women or homosexual men in mind, they cater to a gaze that views men as sexually desirable. The stories include men in vulnerable or emotionally open states. I like that there aren’t concerns about pregnancy (except in omegaverse). I like stories about ascended friendship and closeness between equals.”

“Outside of BL manga, which I consume too much of and am probably immune to, I find the stories often are pretty unique and have some interesting topics that otome games are too afraid to ever touch. Characters just seem a little more dis-inhibited in BL media.”

☑️ Finding New BL Media (Part 2)

“Where do you specifically find out about new BL media?”

This was an optional long answer question, so that we could see where the heck people find out about BL media from. We had 73 responses. Here are some of the more specific (unedited) answers:

“On BL manga discord groups”

Yaoi servers, and friends. Sometimes I look through new releases and see if any interest me.”

“Hmm,maybe Life of a Fujoshi(Fb)

“The curator “Yaoirecs” on steam”

“aarinfantasy.com”

“From the content creator accounts of my favorite BL games”

“Shoutout to BLgamesworld on twitter and tumblr!! I find a lot of devs from there that I’ll follow that way. The boyslove VN discord, bara game dev discord, and LGBT games are the discords that I snoop in on as well.”

Guilt|Pleasure comes to mind but I mostly just do a google search. I’ll also search for new manga on Baka-Updates and occasionally check AarinFantasy for new content.”

Akidearest and through my friends”

“vn discord servers usually (devtalk or visualnovels) or twitter.”

blgamesworld, VN dev discord servers

“twitter, instagram, webtoon, tapas, and lezhin”

“Usually from friends who are voicing acting in BL Media (ie. visual novels)”

“Primarily from official Twitter accounts: Renta_Yaoi, futekiya, etc. for manga and JAST Blue, Ertal, Meyaoi, Blits, etc. for games. For anime, I just look at MAL.”

BL news on Twitter, many random people into BL I follow, MangaGamer and JAST Blue’s Twitter accounts, MangaGamer and JAST Blue’s Discord servers, boy x boy tag searches on VNDB, Kickstarter campaigns”

“@blgamesworld / @jouhou_bl / ENG + JP speaking VAs on twitter”

“Mostly various people in Twitter and american manga publishers. Sometimes Youtube’s recommented videos. I don’t really follow any specific content creators for this exept BL Party on Twitter.”

“twitter – @sarerunet, @boysloveparty”

“On Twitter I follow BL Games World and some BL/yaoi game companies (eg: Y Press Games, Two and a Half Studios, …) that tend to spread the word about new games. I also check on Kickstarter fairly often for yaoi/bl games (and visual novels in general) with new campaigns.”

Twitter, chil-chil, 4chan. I wish there were more discord servers for this or a site like chil-chil but in English.”

“@MangaMogura (occasional posts)”

“Artists on twitter”

“4chan, friends”

YouTube yaoi/BL game let’s players.”

Yaoi Consortium discord server, used to visit the yaoi subreddit, Yaoi // Geeks discord server”

“Discord servers: Yaoi Consortium and the Official Camp Buddy Fan Server.”

“Through manga websites, specifically myreadingmanga and mangago. BL manga is easily the most accessible medium for me. I check regularly for manga that might interest me. From mutuals on twitter. Not necessarily media that is BL, but anime/manga that has BL themes/heavy subtext. Also through TikTok. There are a community of people who are interested in BL media and share content around them.”

☑️ Define Boys Love

“What do you define as yaoi, boys love, bara, etc.?”

This was an optional long answer question, so that we could see how people define these terms. We had 20 responses. Here are some (unedited) answers:

“Anything that has male/male romance as a primary focus.”

Allof them except trash shota”

BL is any content featuring two male/male-identifing characters in a relationship.”

yaoi is explicit sex, boys love is kissing, cuddling, just a sense of BRO TIME, bara is big beefy men having sex”

BL with smut = yaoi.”

Anytime there are two 2D guys present, and one opens up the zipper of the other guy.”

“Yaoi- focused on sex and nudity, boys love- pg-13 romance stories, bara- muscular men”

yaoi is more onto the sexual aspect (imo)
boys love is more lighthearted (imo)
bara is meh (imo)”

I think some may be like fanservice if they like to get spicy scenes. But I think some have a lot more in sentiment, helping to overcome prejudice.”

Two guys who fall in love (Simple yet true).”

“Yaoi contains R-18 things, boys love and shonen-ai is the same, soft and fluffy, bara is kinda gross for me with all the big muscles and all.”

A healthy relationship between the couple”

Boys’ love: any media focused on homoeroticism. Yaoi: manga and anime belonging to the wider BL genre. Bara: originally homoerotic media made for gay men instead of young women, now it’s mostly homoerotic media with bears and hunks instead of twinks and bishies.”

“I think they all portray love between men but in different ways like bara focuses on their muscular body type, yaoi is more standard body and has to do a lot with the story and sexual scenes and in shounen ai it’s more about a love that’s there but only hints at it sometimes and doesn’t focus on the sexual scenes.”

an established relationship between 2 guys

Definitions can vary, since the terms mutate from japanese fandom to international fandom, so it depends on context. To me BL and yaoi means the same thing, though in the context of the western fandom I would understand BL to be softer and yaoi to generally be more sexually explicit, both with more bishie/twinkish/generic anime character designs. On the other hand, bara is largely defined by its muscular character designs and its (typically) sexual explicity, though there are works that are not necessarily sexually explicit.”

☑️ Finding this Survey

Finally, we’ve reached the end. To cap off the survey, we asked a simple question- “How did you find this survey?”

Choices: Twitter; Discord; Amino; deviantART; Facebook; Other (fill in the blank).

We included only the sites we directly knew it had been shared to—I shared it on Twitter, Discord, Amino, and deviantART and I knew Ertal shared it to some of her Facebook friends. However, we were a bit surprised by one answer…

Out of 113 responses, 44.6% of people (50 people) said they found this survey via Twitter.

29.5% of people (33 people) found the survey on Discord.
8.9% of people (10 people) found the survey on deviantART.
8 people found the survey on 4chan.
5 people found the survey on Facebook.
4 people found the survey on Amino.
2 people found the survey through friends.

We had no idea someone linked the survey on 4chan until these answers starting coming in. One thing to note: as you can see, only 113 people responded to this as this was one of the later questions we added in, so we don’t know where everyone found the survey (whoops!).


In Closing

This has been an extremely long post—thank you for bearing with me through it! I wanted to make sure I went over everything, and included enough quotes from people. Let’s do a quick tl;dr of the findings.

  • 76.1% of people (out of 222) are between 19-35 years old, with the majority 38.7% of people between 19-25 years old.
  • 58.6% of people (out of 220) identify as female, while slightly over 1/4th of people (27.3%) are male.
  • Most people use Twitter and Discord, both at least once a month and to find this survey.
  • 42.8% of people (out of 222) live in North America and 36.5% of people live in Europe.
  • 41.4% of people (out of 222) mainly consume BL manga out of any other type of BL media.
  • Most people (33.5% of people out of 221) don’t create BL content, but just slightly under that (30.8% of people) create fanart.
  • The main reason people give for not playing BL games is money.
  • An emphasis on story and gameplay would get a lot of people interested in BL games, along with more mature writing.
  • A majority of people (57.7% of people out of 220) have played a BL game in the past 3 months.
  • A vast majority of people (76.6% of people out of 222) find new BL media through social media.
  • 70.7% of people (out of 222) spend less than $19 a month on BL media, with the majority 36% of people spending nothing on BL media per month.
  • An overwhelming majority of people (96.4% of people out of 222) consume BL media in English.
  • A majority of people (51.9% of people out of 131) play otome games.
  • 36% of people (out of 222) prefer bishies / toned body types.
  • A majority of people (67.9% of people out of 221) prefer fantasy BL stories.
  • Most people (86.5% of people out of 222) view 18+ BL media.
  • Most people (72.5% of people out of 222) view all ages BL media.
  • A majority of people (64.5% of people out of 110) prefer shounen anime styles.
  • A majority of people (53% of people out of 100) dislike realistic styles.
  • Most people (86.5% of people out of 111) can play BL games on Windows PCs.
  • People like being able to see guys dating and seeing the romance in BL media.
  • People find new BL media through:
  • People have varying definitions on “yaoi”, “boys love”, and “bara”, though a lot of people consider “yaoi” to be a term for sexual content.
  • Most people (44.6% of people out of 113) found the survey through Twitter.

As we can see through the long answer responses, there’s a lot of variety in the answers, and this is only a small fraction of the boys love fan community in general. Unlike the otome community that, while it might be somewhat adjacent, the boys love community is not just for visual novel / general gaming fans—it’s full of a lot of manga readers, fanartists, etc. And it is, while only slightly over 50%, a majority of women. While most of the people on this survey are college age, there are other BL areas (such as noted on some Amino groups) where it’s predominately kids. So while I won’t say “take these findings as a grain of salt”, I will say “don’t take the numbers at face value and instead think of why that may be the case”, as we already discussed the ages and Twitter bias.

I’d very much like to refine the questions and try this again in a year or two to see how the BL community as a whole is then—and also to reach more people. I hope this survey has been at least somewhat insightful, and if you’d like to discuss any of the results with me then @ me on Twitter or find me on Discord (Miko#9009).

If BL games are something you might be interested in, you can find a ton of lovingly crafted ones on Itch.io. My collaborator for both this survey and my game studio, Foleso, has a completely free one called Demon Kiss. I’ll also shill my own in development light BL game, Asterism, an RPG VN.

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