Here’s my “hot take” on Dream Daddy, which isn’t even that hot of a take. Like, I don’t hate this game. It’s whatever. It’s fine. It exists. But I do have thoughts about it, which I’d like to be able to just say once and be done with.
The Game Grumps being involved is a problem. Period. I don’t really believe the claim that they “only did voice acting and had no other input,” but even if that is true? That’s still a problem. Creating a game full of gay men and then hiring a bunch of homophobic straight men to voice them is a problem. There are gay voice actors out there. Plenty of them. There’s no excuse to cast a straight person in a gay role.
Also, I feel like lots of people don’t realize this, but Vernon (one of the game’s co-writers), isn’t just “the non straight guy who co-wrote it,” he’s literally a member of the Game Grumps team. He’s a creative developer who works with them daily. He regularly signs off on their gross jokes and their racist/transphobic/homophobic/etc. bullshit. Him being the co-writer means that yes, the Grumps WERE involved in the creation of this game.
By all accounts, the game is fine. Everyone seems to agree that it’s a decently fun game, nothing majorly wrong with it. But it’s also very basic, for a dating sim. Each daddy has three dates, and then their route ends, everything is very shallow and simple. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But the thing is, there are lots of queer developers out there the put mountains and mountains of effort into their games which then just get ignored, or ripped apart. The fact that this incredibly simple, shallow game, which has a bunch of douchebags and creeps for voice actors and “A Game Grumps Production” on it is the one that’s raking in the cash and receiving the widespread press coverage and fame is… upsetting.
Remember when Christine Love, a trans lesbian developer, made “Ladykiller in a Bind,” a visual novel about kinky lesbian sex? There were so many people coming out of the woodwork to tear her apart, claiming that her game was lesbophobic, misogynistic, transphobic, etc., just because she was a queer woman creating a game with themes that they didn’t personally care for. And where was the defense squad then? Where were the people rushing to silence her critics? Where were the people DEMANDING that you play this game and support queer developers? Nowhere.
None of you cared about Ladykiller in a Bind. None of you card about My Boyfriend the Space Tyrant or Escape from Pleasure Planet. None of you cared about We Know the Devil. You let those games come and go without a thought, let their developers get hated and harassed without and demands to protect them. So why is this game different? Because it’s made by the Game Grumps. And because “Daddies” has become the fun, hilarious internet joke.
Like, I don’t hate this game. I think it has problems, which deserve to be critiqued, and the fact that everyone who criticizes it gets dogpiled on and harassed and treated like they’re “betraying the community” is horrible. The fact that the only acceptable response to this game is “yes it’s fantastic I love it” is unacceptable. The fact that people who are upset by parts of it get called things like “ugly demons” is awful.
THE FACT THAT YOU ALL SEEM TO CARE MORE ABOUT THESE FICTIONAL GAY DADDIES THAN THE ACTUAL REAL GAY PEOPLE YOU’RE HARASSING IS FUCKING ATROCIOUS.
I get that we’re all desperate for representation. I really do. I get that we’re so desperate for representation that Damien (a character who makes one offhand mention about a binder and who otherwise makes no mention of being trans inside the game and had to be confirmed as trans by one of the developers on twitter) is considered great trans representation. I get that we just want to have simple gay fun and be allowed to enjoy the few opportunities we get to do that. And you can! No one is trying to stop you from liking this game. But you can’t refuse other people the right to criticize homophobia and transphobia and other problems where they see them.
There are issues with this game. There are issues with its development, and there are issues with the way it chooses to present its story and its vision of “the gay experience.” No one should be required to be silent about those things.
Before I end this post I want to cover the infamous “cult ending” that there’s been a lot of discourse about. Honestly, because that content seems to have been cut from the game, I don’t think it’s really all that relevant to the discussion, though it’s still really gross and concerning that they thought it was a good idea to put in the game to begin with. If it was left in the game, it would absolutely be relevant. People who claim it would be no big deal because “other dating sims have horror endings too” are ignoring two big things:
First, that this game was sold to the LGBT community by being presented as a very nice, charming, friendly happy game about gay people. To be enticed by that, only to play it and have the story take this incredibly dark, morbid turn would be pretty upsetting. Someone who picked up this game for some “light fluffy gay fun” only for it to swerve into “shock value murder” would have every right to be upset, and I think people do have the right to be upset by what was found via data mining.
Second, I think people are ignoring the context. The “cult ending” would have revealed that the REASON why there were so many available gay dads in town was because one of the gay men was leading a cult that murders the mothers in a town. The game’s story would say that these gay men are around because one of the gay men murders women. If you can’t see why that’s a really shitty turn for the story to take, then I don’t know what to tell you.
Personally? I wouldn’t have cared for this game no matter what. I’m not into the whole “daddy” thing, so even before I heard it was made by the Game Grumps, I just wasn’t interested (though it wasn’t until after I learned about it that I was like “what the fuck, why”). And even now, I really just don’t want to CARE about this game. But the fact that this game is quickly becoming “Gay Culture That You Must Not Criticize” without doing anything to earn it, the fact that it’s getting accolades while other queer games get ignored, the fact that having any negative thought about this game is unacceptable and gets you labeled a “demon” makes that impossible. I don’t want to hate this game. But I refuse to be bullied into loving it.