It's about biphobia in game writing…

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CW: spoilers and dubious consent, as well as the usual biphobia.

The recently released game Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator by Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray is described by its producers as:

a game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other hot Dads. You and your daughter have just moved into the sleepy seaside town of Maple Bay only to discover that everyone in your neighborhood is a single, dateable Dad! Will you go out with Teacher Dad? Goth Dad? Bad Dad? Or any of the other cool Dads in this game? With minigames, sidequests, and a variety of paths and endings, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is this year's most anticipated Dad-based game.

Not quite as neat as Not The Robots' tagline of "this year’s most exciting Roguelike Stealth Furniture Eating Simulator",* but still sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Even if, unlike some of us, you're not interested in dating men and not the father of a daughter yourself?

You can date seven dads. They have a variety of ethnic backgrounds. One (only) of the seven has a visible tummy rather than a 'six pack'. Your character's creation includes trans body options like wearing a binder as well as a variety of ethnic origins and body shapes, and with the right prompts, one of the seven subtly comes out as trans by mentioning they have binders in their, ahem, closet.

As another part of your character creation, you get to specify, as part of talking to your daughter, whether your previous partner was male or female.

Does that mean you can end up being the only bisexual in the village? No! One of the seven, Joseph, is already in a relationship. They're the only one who is. They're married. To a woman.

And which do you think is the only one of the seven who rejects you when you fall in sim-love together? After sex with you, obs?

Why yes, it's Joseph.

Now, you could argue that all seven could be bisexual, in terms of their behaviour. They all have kids, after all, and those could have been from a relationship with a woman, rather than surrogacy or adoption or.. But Joseph is the only one who clearly is in a sexual relationship with a woman. He's the only one where the bisexuality is pointed.

It's interesting – and typical – that when the game is reviewed from a gay male perspective, that's over skipped over. There are, rightly, complaints about not reflecting gay male realities, for example.

And the authors get that:

A lot of people have said that this game fails to engage with queer culture in a meaningful way, and I absolutely understand that criticism

says Leighton, the 'queer woman' of the pair, before going on to say that they wanted it to be a "heart warming and inclusive" story.

But what about from a bisexual perspective? Well, most of the other characters warn you off Joseph. He does say that if you carry on, he feels someone else – i.e. his wife – will be hurt. Because it's your fault, obviously.

Actually, it's worse than that. On your third date with Joseph, he tells you his marriage is over by mutual agreement and that he wants to be with you. He then literally carries you to bed for sex. Almost incredibly, you don't get to say no.

This is the only character who doesn't care about consent: you can opt out of all the sex that can happen with everyone else.

Whether or not you wanted it, Joseph tells you he had a great time and gives you a kiss farewell before parting. Reporting him to the police or calling a rape helpline is not an option either.

Actually, it's worse than that. Each of the seven dads has a number of endings to their story with you. Despite telling you he wants you and the sex was great, for him anyway, Joseph's two main ones are:

a) The one where he dumps you to attempt to repair his relationship with his wife; and

b) The one where he continues to have an affair with you, while staying in that marriage.

Either way, 'you can't trust bisexuals' is the message. They'll either 'leave you for the other gender' or 'carry on cheating'.

This is the only one of the seven that doesn't have any sort of "heart warming and inclusive" happy ending. There's another one where the best outcome is that the relationship is put on pause while he works through his issues, but there's the strong hint that you will, in time, get together. Everyone else, it's 'happily ever after' time.

This is what biphobia looks like.

And it's not just me saying so, even if most of the complaints seem to be about the way you don't get to go off into the sunset with Joseph. And the authors don't get that.

Leighton admitted:

that she was surprised by how many people were vocally upset about Joseph's ending. .. "[The goal] was to get people to analyze why they'd villainize [his wife] when, in reality, if you're dating Joseph, you're not exactly doing so hot yourself — and how her potentially cheating justifies you doing things with Joseph .. I'm surprised, because I thought the discourse about that path would be like, 'This feels morally dubious and bad,' because you're essentially trying to break up a marriage."

Well, that would be a marriage where one of the parties says it's over, is living separately away from their spouse and children, and where their spouse has said "You aren’t even his type" to you before any sex happens with you. Joseph's wife certainly knows he's bisexual in attraction, and she probably knows he's sexual with other men – take the right paths, and you know about him and Robert. She's also flirted with you and if you go on a third date with one of the others, she goes off with one of his friends the same night.

Plus in game terms, you don't get to talk to him about the state of his existing relationship and if you don't go on that third date, there's no 'I'm going back to them' in future. If you have adulterous sex – willingly or not – then the marriage is back on, if you don't, it stays finished.

Just what sort of "heart warming and inclusive" story is that?!?

Actually, it's worse than that. Because this 'don't trust bisexuals' is deliberate.

Saying exactly what somebody wants to hear until they kiss you is what a sociopath does.

says Vernon justifying it.

Actually, it's worse than that. There is within the game data a third ending for Joseph. It's one where you wake up the morning after the who-cares-whether-or-not-it-was-consensual sex, and he turns out be the leader of the murderous cult of some evil god. You know, like all bisexuals. He's then stabbed to death, with "I’ll see you in your nightmares!" as his last words.

"Heart warming and inclusive"? I think not.

And although they're prepared to justify one bit of biphobia, this is not something the pair want to talk about: "Leighton Gray, a queer illustrator and one of the game's creators, wouldn't go on record about the storyline; neither would Tyler Hutchison, the game's lead developer. "If someone does end up finding more about it… I will be very impressed," Hutchison said."

But players have not been so reticent and the discussions at the game's Steam pages include "it's one thing to just reveal him to actually be a jerk and another to reveal that he's actually a murderous sociopath… Joseph's story could've been about the struggles of religion and coming out, instead they just pull a camp trope of him as a hypersexual demon who preys on men."

Quite.

This is what biphobia looks like.

I should probably add a quick disclaimer that I haven't actually played this one: apart from the way that the creators don't understand why there are complaints against the biphobic crap, there's currently no Linux version.

* Highly recommended for those of us who like that sort of thing. It's often on sale or in bundles, so check out IsThereAnyDealOn.com if you want to save some money when getting it.

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