Representation matters. We hear that phrase a lot from activists, from people of all races, colors, and creeds, but we don’t really think about it in terms of video games. This is true twofold when it comes to dating simulation games, as most are either the “Otome” genre, with a female protagonist and all male romantic options, or the standard genre of a male protagonist surrounded by women. Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator may seem like it is silly, (and to some degree it is) but it is a necessary part of the dating sim genre that isn’t tapped into often.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a new dating sim that puts players in the role of a single dad who moves to the town of Maple Bay with his daughter, discovering that the dads in the town are all single and gay. This may seem like the plot of a campy mess—and perhaps it might be, when the game releases on July 13—however it is important to note two things about this game that stand out:
- It is being published by the Game Grumps, a popular YouTube channel that has made its way into all sorts of mainstream media.
- It is a sim focused SOLELY on same-sex romance and relationships.
I have written before on BagoGames about how important it is that the gaming industry endeavors to be inclusive with characters of all sexual orientations and identities. I have also talked about how important it is that LGBT characters be given a spotlight and not be constantly relegated to the supporting role. However, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is one of the first mainstream, if not the first, dating sim to support same-sex romance between male characters.
As a gay man, I see this as more than just an opportunity for animated, onscreen eye candy and the possibility of a thousand fan-fiction tales being written. I see this as the first step in the right direction, considering dating sims are usually directed toward the heterosexual demographic in one form or another.
Some people are probably going to say that straight people shouldn’t enjoy this game because “it isn’t for them” or say that the game won’t sell because of its subject matter being “perverse” or “against social norms.” My answer to such claims is that in order for the game’s launch to be successful, it needs to be played by straight people, gay people, transgender people, people of all races, religions, and every other circumstance and walk of life possible.
This sort of game is a learning experience, a dip into another, often unrepresented dynamic of romance; it is an opportunity to educate and elucidate that games involving gay people can be fun and interesting. Without the support of straight people and other LGBT allies, then we are limiting the impact that the game could have on our dialogue with other people and with people in our own social circles.
But Alexx, this is just a SINGLE game…what could it really do in the long run? To that, I ask you to look at games like Super Mario Bros., the original Final Fantasy, and other games that went on to define console generations, spawn entire franchises, and completely redefine what we view gaming to be.
Maybe Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is representative of something larger in society today. If we can come together, enjoy this game, and just have fun with it regardless of our circumstances, maybe we can come together on other issues and bring healthy discussions to issues like equality, homelessness, and hunger.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is part of a sorely neglected perspective of the dating sim genre. It is something that many developers probably think will not sell well, yet the game’s existence makes a pivotal point that we need to focus on if we are going to continue fostering inclusivity in the gaming industry. All we have to do is keep an open mind and give games like this a try.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator releases July 13th on Steam.