We Discuss 'Dream Daddy' Heartbreak, August Game Releases on Waypoint Radio


#1

With Danielle and Rob out, it's the Austin and Patrick show today.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/wj8wzb/we-discuss-dream-daddy-heartbreak-august-game-releases-on-waypoint-radio

#2

@Danika would be an expert here, but is “Dream Daddy” yaoi? “…fictional media focusing on romantic or sexual relationships between male characters, typically marketed for a female audience…” As far as I can tell, game is not disrespectful or anything, but it’s not a deep dive into the subject either. It’s more about romance, than queerness.

I’m just watching Let’s Play, and I’m just a white dude, so I can be wrong.


#3

Having not played it, and going only off screenshots, I would say that it’s closer to Bara.
Probably the simplified explanation here is that Yaoi is typically written by and aimed at straight women, where Bara is written by and aimed at gay men.
Of course, trying to fit all gay male fiction into one of these categories can be doing it a disservice, but if you were looking for something similar, I would look into Bara first.


#4

But that was my point, that it was “aimed at straight women”. Not literally, obv. I mean that in a sense, that this game is light, funny and safe place for everyone to experience this, well, fantasy of particular situation with particular group of characters. That’s, afaik, closer to yaoi.

Good interview with devs, btw, where they talk about that.


#5

‘not wanting to make a character’s story about their sexuality’ is totally valid, but going completely to the ‘literally just never mentioning it’ side is… not quite to my taste


#6

Look, I only just started listening but I’m here to add my voice to Patrick’s DmC defence because that game was BELTING. I’m mad as hell it’s probably not getting a sequel and even madder that the PC version doesn’t have all the content from the Definitive Edition. If I had my way they’d continue both series, because why the fuck not.

Also both Dante and Vergil in that game were HOT, yo. Oof. I’m fanning myself here.


#7

Yuuuuuuup. I’ve really only played through Brian’s path, but it felt less like “we don’t want to tell a coming-out story” than “we’re not comfortable directly discussing this for whatever reason”. There’s just a very abrupt shift from “hanging out” to “I guess maybe we’re dating”, especially given that he reacts poorly to any straight-up flirting prior to date #3.

It’s understandable to some extent, but it doesn’t make for something that feels like it’s successful at engaging with a queer male viewpoint authentically.


#8

Haven’t played yet, but this is really frustrating to hear. It’s unbelievably hard to find games that are told through a queer man’s viewpoint, and I was really hoping this could be the first high-profile game to cover this well. But, alas.


#9

YES. YEEEEESSSSS. Fuck the haters, Emo Dante was hot as hell and the opening of that game is so, so delicious.


#10

Totally; I really enjoy Robert Yang’s stuff, but it’s frustrating that he’s the only example that I can think of w/r/t high profile content specifically relating to queer men, especially given that most of his work deals with systems of oppression either directly or indirectly.

It’s great, it’s important, but I’d also love some more fluffy, sweet content for queer guys, especially given how exhausting 2017 is in general. Tusks looks like it might fit in that niche, though!


#11

Someone I otherwise really look up to dismissed Dream Daddy on twitter as “yet another boring safe queer game” and claimed that everyone should just play Robert Yang’s stuff instead, which I think is kind of a shitty way of looking at things. As you say, as brill and important as Yang’s stuff is, it’s niche at best. The idea that every queer game should explore the woes of queer life is pretty boring and depressing. No single game is ever going to make up for every shortcoming of the games industry with regards to queer stuff, but still every time something like Dream Daddy comes out everyone spends so much time berating it for not doing enough. Putting the weight of the world on the shoulders of a game that just wants to be Good and Nice. Not to dismiss legit complaints like how it apparantly stops just short of telling a coming out story, that’s based on expecations the game set itself, albiet unintentionally. It’d just be nice if queer games could be afforded the leniancy that everything else has been afforded for all of time, you know, occationally.


#12

I think this kind of ties into a lot of the political discourse on the left/left-adjacent end of things (the following said by a pretty hardcore leftist). It seems like a lot of leftists place a lot of value in critiquing things in pop culture that relate to them, as applying those critiques can add more perspective and context to the work itself (as well as other left-leaning spectrums of political thought). But I think we’re starting to hit a point where we feel everything needs to have this lens applied to it, and things are more important for what they don’t say than what they do. And, to me at least, that’s not only an unfair way to treat works of art and their creators, but it’s also a cynical and ultimately unproductive way to approach criticism.

I want to clarify that I’m not trying to say that people’s qualms with things like Dream Daddy aren’t valid - it’s also unfair to dismiss someone’s issues with a piece of media outright - but I do think it’s worth examining how we critique and talk about things like Dream Daddy, which ultimately tries to be a positive, fun experience aimed at queer men. That’s a really rare and challenging niche to fill, and though it has some major issues both in and out of the game itself, I think it (and media that attempt to achieve similar goals) should be simultaneously acknowledged for at least trying and (mostly) succeeding to live up to that niche. No one is going to get something as complex as this exactly right, and I think it’s important that these intentions are acknowledged and taken into consideration when evaluating a work of art.

Does that make any sense? I don’t expect it to be a particularly popular opinion, but I do think it’s an important question that will need to be confronted more and more in the coming years. Dream Daddy and the controversy around it seems like a perfect case study.

EDIT: This was supposed to be a reply, but on my screen the reply part didn’t seem to take. So it’s in response to the comment immediately above mine, if it doesn’t show for anyone else.


#13

Yeah, agreed. I think having every work involving queer folks, particularly queer men in this case, be an intense examination of identity and history on some level is exhausting and unreasonable. Even if it fucks up pretty hard in some areas, it’s nice to see someone at least trying to create an uplifting, positive experience. Everyone needs to feel good sometimes, and it’s a great outlet for people who are struggling with their identity and the pressures of said identity to just let go and have some fun.

Not to take away from Yang’s work - it’s absolutely important as well. But you gotta keep the light/dark balanced out.


#14

Totally agreed. Even though the romance part of the game fell short for me, I appreciate how much care they put into trying to make an inclusive, positive title, and it’s been really heartening to see it succeed! Hopefully it’ll mean more titles exploring similar themes and tones, since I think a diversity of perspectives is ultimately what’ll help us out of the overly-critical space we’re currently in.


#15

Yeah, I was trying to be careful to acknowledge that criticism/pointing out flaws is beneficial and should by all means be done, but when we acknowledge things only for what they fuck up or don’t say, we’re robbing our perspective of important context that is equally valuable for other reasons. I don’t know that overly-critical is the term I’d use because I think it implies that criticism is on some level a bad thing. It’s more in how we approach said criticism than the prevalence of said criticism, I think. Though I’m not sure what a replacement term would be, unfortunately.

And yeah, there’s a clear effort here to make something encouraging and inclusive to groups that barely ever see any positive portrayal in media. And even if it whiffs in some places (which, I should note, I view the cut ending as part of the “criticising things more for what they don’t say” ideology), it mostly succeeds, and it’s equally important to acknowledge that yes, these successful parts should be used by other developers as a touchstone for how to approach queer male characters and their interactions. We can’t really learn anything if we only look at how something fails; we need to discuss why it succeeds as well.


#16

I think it’s interesting that in a question about not pushing off-the-cuff discussion of games into hyperbole, Nintendo games were described as effectively being incapable of being bad. That even “the bad ones” are “better than most games”.

Like, if you wanted to know why people describe Nintendo games as trash, recycled, derivative of a thread of design that everyone else riffed off a decade earlier - it’s because the “neutral” take is already some explosive hyperbole that paints these products as some mythical magic space of super-consistent competent (even timeless) design the likes of which normal devs could rarely reach and certainly not consistently.

As mentioned in the podcast, you only have to look at Sunshine to see how bad that game is. The issues tumble out of the game as it is played. It’s totally fine to like bad games; to love them. But everyone else doesn’t need to describe them as very good games (even the bad ones).


#17

So… I just got finished listening to the latter half of this (I tend to not be able to listen to Podcasts in one go unless I’m in roadtrip mode but better late than never) and… talking about Daddy dating sim a bit, Austin brings up a point that a lot of talk being done about the game has been bringing up the issue that that game seems to have a sterile and cleaned up image in regards to things of the LGBTQ community.

Here’s where I’m having a really strong sense of conflict but further exemplified how complicated these sorts of things are. I’m not an authority in these things, nor do I claim to be. I am one member of the LGBTQ community, and I speak from my heart based upon my own life. I am just one voice amongst a group of many voices with their own stories and experiences who all deserve to speak for themselves.

(For context I am a cis-gendered demi-homosexual man with a strong preference toward the more romantic and affectionate sides of a relationship rather than sexual. Anyhoo.)

My experience gay media, particularly when growing up, hasn’t been a very good one. The media that did portray someone like me (a man who is interested in intimate relationships with other men) have generally had a highly sexually charged connotation, or in worse cases, made into a joke. This was in the more common western media where a gay man was just treated as a sassy best friend who would constantly make sexual related jokes. It didn’t help anymore to be growing up with the rise of anime and manga that portrayed men in same sex relationships and was more or less treated as fetish fuel and often completely invalidated that homosexuality as being a form of real love, instead being just a strange kink.

At the same time, when I started to integrate myself into the gay community, it became clear how much social conflict there was within our minority, where you’d have smaller gay subsets that would often challenge or otherwise dismiss the preferences in attraction and expression between other men (how many times I was declared as too bulky to be a gay man, or that my desire for a more feminine expression some how meant I could no longer consider myself as a “real man”. It was awful and to this day still has left many scars on my heart and mind).

So basically having a combination of shitty media along with people having shitty politics, I found myself completely isolated in my thoughts and feelings on things like sexuality, identity, and expression. I wasn’t even looking for people who felt the exact same way I did about all these things. I just wanted people to understand and accept me as I wanted to be, and in turn, do the same for them. It took a while before I got to that point and I appreciate the friends and colleagues I have now who come from so many different backgrounds, preferences and configurations, and what I love about them is their ability to communicate with me on an emotional level and how our life experiences have made us into what we are today.

This was a lot of my experience in playing Dream Daddy. Mind you, I haven’t gotten through every route and I’m not saying they’re perfect, but the thing that made me enjoy them so much and feel really good was being able to hear these characters talk to one another about the state of their heart and mind. More over, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a game like this allow men to express their feelings and thoughts; something that’s still extremely difficult in society today with the looming shadow of masculinity and the importance of “manliness” being the priority for men to focus upon.

In all honesty, Dream Daddy isn’t a perfect example of LGBTQ media, and perhaps my opinion of this game is a bit swayed from having known it’s development has been going on for a long while (blah blah, not important) but if anything, I was just really happy to see a game that allowed men to not only embrace being in a relationship with other men, but also allowed them the space to be vulnerable and talk about their insecurities, because that’s still a huge issue in media everywhere, and it screws up the hearts and minds of LGBTQ community members in ways that aren’t so inherently obvious.

This was just my own feeling with playing the game, and I enjoyed the experience very much and would like to see people build upon what it had done and do it even better if they can, rather that make future creators think of avoid anything close to it out of fear of complete dismissal.


#18

Haven’t had time to listen to the podcast, but Coming Out On Top is also an indie gay dating simulator with a generally lighthearted tone but waaaaaay more sex. I didn’t feel it was oriented towards straight women (lesbian here). Lots of sex, some kink, but also quite a bit of ~feelings~. I enjoyed it, although I played it early-ish in its release and I understand there’s been a lot of content added since. Mostly just leaving this here because others were discussing other entries in the genre, and this may not have been on everyone’s radar.


#19

(This is a general point not directed at anyone in particular, but)
‘Can’t it just be a nice game rather than a grim exploration about what it means to be queer?’ sure but hey you don’t have to literally never use the word gay to accomplish that? Right?

I don’t know, ‘nice but kinda shallow’ is what I went in expecting to be honest, and it’s what I got, so.

also yeah Coming Out On Top is great. love it.