Listen, if you had told me that the Game Grumps, noted Let's Players and Youtube gaming personalities, were going to publish a gay dating simulator about dads - I would have just laughed and been like, "Okay, sure." If you went even further and said that it was actually really good and surprisingly validating and unlike anything else on the market, I would have just slapped you and called you crazy. Because, honestly, how crazy does that all sound?
But it happened. It's real. It's a real thing that exists in our timeline - and honestly, it's one of the few things that make me think that maybe we're not in the bad timeline after all.
In Dream Daddy, you take control of a new dad in the cul-de-sac of much handsomer dads (seriously, you like a 6 and they're all 10s). Throughout the game, are you able to date the dads and eventually commit to one and get their specific ending. All the while, you also navigate the struggles of being a single father after having last your husband/wife a while ago. It's a simple dating sim that packs a surprising amount of of heart - and honestly, look at those dads. How can you not have a good time?
WHY DO THESE DADS MATTER?
So, these dads are very near and dear to my heart for a number reasons. The first and foremost obviously being the incredible amount of diversity in their designs. You have some dads of color, you have an overweight dad, you have a nerdy dad, a goth dad - there's just so many good, good dads! And that's really important for the gay community these days - with racism and body shaming still being a major issue.
Not to mention, their BUILD THAT DAD character creator has a surprising amount of diverse options. I was able to make a dad that was more or less the same body type as me. Another very important plus is the ability to give your dad a binder, which means that you can actually have a trans dad. This is so important for trans gamers! So few games actually allow you to have trans protagonists, and Dream Daddy actually delivered that - it's honestly one of the best, most shocking parts of them game thus far.
The game also does a good job in showing positive gay parental representation. Every single character in this game has children, and most of these children are shown to be happy and loving towards their parents. The ones that aren't are usually rebellious teens or are estranged for reasons beyond sexuality. It's not every day that a dating sim shows how positive LGBTQ+ parents can be, right?
There's also the fact that not all of these dads are gay - and some of them are bi, or pan? No one's sexuality is explicitly stated, but some have been married to women previously. It's not perfect in terms of actual representation, but the experience is still a very queer one. There isn't any room for straight characters in this game, except for one wife here and a daughter there - but even then, they're side characters compared to the rest of the dads.
We even have a trans dad! I'm not going to spoil it for you, because I think it's best to play the path on your own - but a trans dad does exist in the game. And that's above and beyond anything I expected in this Game Grumps-made gem.
IS THIS GAME PERFECT?
No. There's no such thing as perfect. As I said before, none of the characters' sexualities are explicitly stated. This isn't a huge issue, but in a time where so many sexualities are facing erasure by the gay and lesbian communities - labels tend to be very important. I'm not saying it had to be in there in a dramatic fashion - we didn't need a coming out story or anything - but I think a casual mention of who swings what and where would have been nice?
Still, if that's my only criticism then I think the game has to be doing something right!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a brilliant example of what being truly inclusive is. Dream Daddy didn't need to have overdramatic plotpoints, or melodramatic arguments. It's a fun, simple game about a dad trying to get back into the dating scene and finding love! It's also about a single, queer father, doing his best to help his daughter overcome the struggles of friendship and going off to college.
Honestly, this entire game is a positive experience. It's a small beacon of light in cis-straight world, and you should all give it play through when you get the chance!
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and writer of plays and screenplays, based in NYC. Do you guys have a game that you think is significant to the LGBTQ+ community? Email me, and I'll give it a look!
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