"So a strange phenomenon is occurring: the video characters are becoming celebrities. Shiori has an official fan club with 10,000 members and a newsletter. There are Tokimeki gatherings and merchandise.
At a recent news conference, dozens of reporters scribbled with straight faces as Konami Co., which makes Tokimeki Memorial, announced Shiori's first compact disk and previewed the two songs, 'Teach Me, Mr. Sky,' and 'Let's Go With the Wind.'"
of note: Action Button (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb-DtICmPTY) makes a compelling case that this article overstates a lot of it's claims, and that these games were more mainstream and had a wider appeal then was portrayed in this article, including many female fans (& the NYTimes author makes an embarrassing "developed with no input from women" claim that's proven wrong with one look at the credits).
and remember: this was all happening in 1995