However, which word you choose places the emphasis on different aspects of the game.
In any case, when it isn't important to be precise, these terms are often used interchangeably.
These terms are quite similar but carry distinct differences, as above, and there are times when they are incorrectly substituted for one another (dating sims are often referred to incorrectly as visual novels).
The first gay dating sim/visual novel from Obscurasoft, Coming Out on Top follows college student Mark Matthews as he busts out of the closet and engages in all manner of adventure, all the while meeting a multitude of hot guys.
You're the main contestant, and your potential dates appear to be human, but they're a little weird.