A few days ago, the top selling game on Steam was Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, and that took a lot of people by surprise. What is this game? Why is it so popular? How did it top the charts so quickly?
To help you get in the loop, here’s a quick explanation of how a game about dads dating became a hit internet sensation.
It’s Made By The Game Grumps
You can never discount star power when it comes to projects like this. For those of you who have somehow been hiding under a YouTube rock for the last several years, the Game Grumps are one of the most popular Let’s Play groups on the internet. Consisting of Arin Hanson, aka Egoraptor, and Dan Avidan, aka Danny Sexbang, the Grumps have nearly four million subscribers and are still growing. The Grumps played a key role in producing and developing Dream Daddy, and they make up the majority of the voice cast. Basically, their entire fanbase decided to check this game out.
Not to mention the game is written Leighton Gray and Vernon Shaw, each of who have their own powerful fandom followings. Then there are the tangential followings from other projects the crew has done, such as Ninja Sex Party and Hot Pepper Gaming, who gladly gave the game a try. Basically, if you are a member of the YouTube gaming community, you’ll recognize every single person who had a role in this game’s creation.
It’s A Genre We Don’t See Much Of In America
Dating simulators are a dime a dozen (or should I say ten yen a dozen?) over in Japan, but can you remember the last mainstream dating simulator that made it big in America? Does the Mass Effect franchise count?
The same holds true for visual novels. American audiences tend to react poorly to games with minimal gameplay. Heck, just look at the intense backlash we have seen against “walking simulators” that focus on narrative and environmental exploration over active gameplay.
But that doesn’t mean that dating simulators and visual novels don’t have their own American fanbase that is practically starved for content. Where have these fans been, you may ask? Consuming the incredible amount of dating sim and visual novel content that has come out of Japan.There are tons of these games on your favorite digital distribution platform. Hundreds, thousands of dating sims stuffed full of anime characters, many of questionable quality.
So when a bunch of American developers released a non-anime dating sim visual novel, they appealed to a market that is pretty much starved for well-written, well-drawn, quality produced content. This market jumped on Dream Daddy like a pack of wolves on a fresh kill, except instead of a dead deer or something, it’s a bunch of hot dads. Awesome.
It’s Incredibly Diverse
Dream Daddy is an incredibly progressive game. It’s a dating simulator that allows you to play as a gay dad that dates other gay dads. A racially diverse cast of gay dads, to boot! Have you ever seen anything like it before?
We have seen dating sims that let you date birds, alpacas, potted plants, dinosaurs, insects, primordial gore monsters, time traveling historical figures, and the cast of Homestuck. I’d say that dating simulators have let you date everything but the kitchen sink, but I swear there’s one that lets you date that too.
In fact, the one thing that it seems like dating sims haven’t let you date is a quirky cast of racially diverse gay dads.
There is a huge population of gamers that are looking for more progressive games, and Dream Daddy is about as progressive as it gets. It has its flaws, sure, and it stumbles around some issues, but it includes positive portrayals of gay men (and trans men) of all different shapes, sizes, religions, dispositions, and propensities to suddenly pull out a knife. Simply put, many gamers want progressive games, the Grumps made a progressive game, and said gamers purchased said game. Simple business. Simple gay dad business.
It’s Full Of Jokes
Dream Daddy is, in essence, a parody. It never plays up the character’s LGBT identities for fun, but it certainly makes fun of other things. One character is basically a vampire. Another character spends his days hunting Big Foot. Another character gets into a daughter-on-daughter bragging contest that is actually animated as a Gameboy Pokémon battle. In fact, every dad seems to have some reference to a classic gaming franchise imbedded in his dating scenario, not to mention you get dating scores and rankings after every date you complete.
And if inside gamer jokes aren’t good enough for you, there are dad jokes! Oh so many dad jokes! If you are a fan of cringe humor, this dating sim is the one for you. The Game Grumps are, at their core, a comedy troupe, and that comedy comes through super strong in Dream Daddy. Even the “dad tips” on the loading screens are priceless!
You Can Play As Goku
I mean, who wouldn’t want to play as one of the world’s greatest fighters on his quest to find a love interest? I’m just… Saiyan!
The real reason why everyone likes Dream Daddy is simple: it’s just a good game. The art is good, the writing is good, the voice acting is good aside from some volume issues – it’s just all around good! It’s a well-produced game in a niche genre dealing with subjects few other games will tackle, created by a popular internet comedy group. Of course it was going to sell.
If you haven’t checked out Dream Daddy yet, I highly suggest you do. You’ll have a ton of fun creating your own Dadsona and dating the game’s incredible cast of characters.