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Ugh, the savages. All of these seemingly disparate men have one thing in common: A Dad Dating Simulator. Excitement round the title was so high, that when the release was delayed by a few hours, co-developers Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray had to post an apology to wildly expectant fans on Twitter. It received over 17, likes. In Dream Daddy, your character who you get to intricately customise moves into a new town with your year-old daughter in tow, after recently being widowed.

Through conversation, dialogue choices and mini-games, you will try to impress those dads until they like you enough to take it to the next level although there is nothing more explicit than the implication of sex and the occasional glimpse of boxer briefs. So how did a game about dads dating each other - a relatively niche subgenre of an already niche kind of game - become number one on Steam, a PC store with over m users? The term has been around for a while, and has started to filter into video game design in recent years. Think Geralt, the gruff-voiced monster slayer from from The Witcher, or Mitsurugi, the elder statesman from the Soul Caliber series of fighting games.

Secondly, there is a growing demand for queer games in an industry where mainstream hits tend to represent the white, hetero male-gaze, leaving straight women, people of colour and a huge proportion of LGBT people out in the cold. Dream Daddy, however, has enjoyed the push of its publisher, Game Grumps — a hugely influential YouTube channel with nearly 4 million subscribers. There is also a growing interest in games that think about and explore relationships, rather than just using humans as action ciphers.

When you create your own character, you also have the option to make him a trans dad if you wish, complete with the ability to choose chest binders. One of the dads, Damien, is transgender as well, though you can easily play through the game without realizing it; there's no neon sign pointing at his gender identity, only subtle hints as you get to know him better.

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Like the rest of the dads, he is who he is—and he is allowed to be, without controversy. The game and the community surrounding the game was so positive and loving that it encouraged them to be themselves. Dream Daddy 's success belies a long-held assumption of the mainstream gaming world: While the industry has taken marginal steps toward inclusion, queer characters still tend to crop up as sidekicks and subplots rather than as protagonists.


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But Gray sees something very different in the passionate response from Dream Daddy fans: She points to game franchises like Dragon Age and Mass Effect , both of which have amassed huge followings in part because of the in-depth and gender-inclusive romances they offer in between their battles. Gray notes that while queer people—along with women and people of color—have long been expected to sympathize with straight, white cis characters, the mainstream games industry remains reluctant to ask the reverse.


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The simplest explanation for its broad appeal is the most obvious: But its subject matter—dads—also touches a nerve that resonates with just about everyone. A daddy who has their life together enough to take care of another person is probably more emotionally mature than a twentysomething dude might be.

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