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‘Dream Daddy’ Is A Surprisingly Earnest Dating Simulator Where You Can Date Gay Dads

Steam

“Dream Daddy” is a brand-new dating simulator in which you play a dad trying to romance other hot dads, and I’m pleased to report it’s much more charming, earnest and goofy than I expected it to be.

My main source of apprehension stemmed from the fact that “Dream Daddy” was produced by Game Grumps, a “Let’s Play”-style YouTube channel with 3.9 million subscribers. It’s run by Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, both of whom are known for their over-the-top, juvenile, shock-based senses of humor. For example, their most recent “best of” video features a clip where one of the two asks the other if he thought he could “stuff tits into [his] asshole.”

So, to say that I was fearful about whether this game would treat its same-sex romances with respect is an understatement. However, I’m happy to report that after playing “Dream Daddy” for a couple of hours, my fears were (mostly) unfounded.

Wait, back up. What’s a dating simulator? How do you play “Dream Daddy”?

If the dating simulator genre is a totally foreign concept, here’s how it works: They’re essentially video game versions of those choose-your-own-adventure books.

In “Dream Daddy,” you design your own character — which, notably, include “binder” body options for trans characters — and help shape their story with the decisions you make.

If you’re having a conversation with another character, you’ll sometimes have to choose between one of several responses. Sometimes, these responses will affect another character’s perception of you, which is indicated by an explosion of hearts (good) or a murky, black ink cloud (bad). Other times, these options simply alter the way a conversation unfolds, but there isn’t a tangible, numbers-based outcome.

Ultimately, your goal is to pursue one — or several, if you’re feeling frisky — romances with another character. But if you choose the wrong responses in conversation, they might not return your affection. Kinda like real life, really.

The sweetest relationship in “Dream Daddy” isn’t with another dad

“Dream Daddy” is, of course, about romancing hunky men, but there’s actually a different relationship at the heart of the story: The one between your character and his daughter, Amanda.

The whole conceit of the story is that you’re a single dad who’s moving to a new neighborhood with Amanda — and, in the process of getting to know the new digs, meet a bunch of hot dads. It’s implied that you’re downsizing because your character’s spouse died in the somewhat recent past. Also, Amanda is in her senior year of high school and will be going off to college soon.

Amanda is the main vector by which the story moves forward, and it works surprisingly well. She’s the one pushing you to get to know the people in your new neighborhood — spoiler alert: They’re all dads — and she’s a nice, familiar face that helps ground everything in between all the flirtation.

In the opening minutes of the game, I was already getting choked up over the pair’s conversation about my character’s late husband, which is not what I was expecting out of a game called “Dream Daddy.” You can choose whether your spouse was a man or a woman, but this game is about romancing dudes, so, the choice was pretty clear.

I’ve also been surprised at how invested I am in her own narrative about troubles in school. I haven’t delved too deeply into her story yet, but I’m intrigued to see where it goes.

So, who can you date in “Dream Daddy”?

All right, enough about Amanda. What you’re really here for is hot dads. I get it.

I’ve met all the dads so far, and my current favorite is Craig, a sporty, reformed frat bro who’s settling into his new role as a divorced, mature(ish) dad. He regularly pantomimes a voice for River, the wide-eyed tot strapped to his chest. He also works out a lot. I’m not down with his fratty masculinity — he’s bound to have “masc4masc” in his Grindr profile, right? — but for now, he seems like a good option.

At first, I was partial to Hugo, a charming English teacher at Amanda’s school, but then I found out he had a son named Ernest Hemingway Vega. That’s simply too much.

I’m only a couple of hours into my first playthrough, so we’ll see how things go. Overall, I’m genuinely surprised at how much I’m enjoying it, but I do have some qualms with the way the writing fails to engage with gay culture in a meaningful way, despite relying entirely on the idea of gayness for its success.

But that’s a topic for another day. I’ll have more thoughts on “Dream Daddy” soon.

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Why Are Your Friends Calling Hot Guys Daddy?

It’s a dilemma for some of us…do we fight against the “Daddy” label, or just give in and accept it? I think I garner more attention from younger guys these days than I ever did when I was on the scene…despite being a youngster who preferred to have liaisons with older guys. Even up to a week ago I received a message on Instagram from a younger…dare I say in his 30s…very good looking English guy, suggesting that if I was after a “sugar babe” to hit him up! I should point out that I don’t have the financial cred to be a Sugar Daddy…but I can’t say I wasn’t flattered! I was! I have spent the last 15 years fighting off the label of “Daddy”, but now find myself questioning why! I think the problem has always been the way gay Daddies are promoted – both in the media, and in movies. Usually older men who are financially independent, and have the money to fulfil the whims of the young guys in their company. However, a bit of reading on the subject dispels that myth. Yes, there are young guys out there who partner with older guys for financial reasons, but there are equally a number of guys who do it for less material reasons…they find the company of older men more stimulating than guys in their own peer group, often for intellectual reasons; they prefer the experiences of older guys, both sexually and emotionally; or they just prefer older guys…full stop. Having now come to the realisation that it’s not all about money, I’m thinking that…provided they are not after financial support (fuck knows it’s difficult enough to support ones self on a pension), I should embrace my inner Daddy. After all, aren’t the emotional and sexually experienced traits of older guys the reason I used to chase them!

It’s my job to write about celebrities from 9 to 5, and when a hot male steps out, I’m the first to call him “Daddy.” Usually, I’ll chat my friend and co-worker Erin with links to photos of hot guys, with comments like this:

“Doesn’t Kanye look like such a daddy in his Yeezys?”

“Gerard Butler could literally ask me to tie his shoes and I’d do it.”

“Ryan Gosling is an actual father but wow, what a daddy.”

“Drake is such a dad.”

She tends to agree, and often, we’ll debate over the exact qualifications of what gives a dude “Daddy” status. It’s a funny game that keeps us entertained. But where exactly does this term stem from? And why have empowered women suddenly picked it up as a phrase to toss around?

From my perspective as a homosexual male, use of the term “daddy” in gay culture, where it’s specifically popular, boils down to your sexual preferences. “Bottoms,” the label for generally submissive types in bed, if they’re so inclined, call their dominant partners, labeled “tops,” “daddy.” It outlines the power dynamics of the sexual relationship and boils down to sex.

Outside of gay culture, however, I’ve noticed pop culture has adopted the term too. Issa Rae’s lead character on Insecure throws the term around, and in 2017, “daddy” has seemingly morphed into “zaddy,” another version of the term that essentially has the same meaning.

According to Urban Dictionary, guys considered “zaddy” basically have the “It” factor. They’re stylish. They’re perceived as cool. They have their s— together. And obviously they’re hot. Typically, they’re rich. Ty Dolla $ign has a song called “Zaddy” in which he boasts about women flocking to him for his wealth and his ability to provide them with a better, more opulent lifestyle.

Zayn Malik often comes to mind when we think of “Zaddy” because fans have used the term to call him sexy on social media. The first letter of his name is “Z,” like, you know, “Zaddy,” so there’s that, too. As to why people pick up the slang word in instances when they’re not talking about the singer? I’m not so sure, and I’m not so sure it matters. It’s simply a way of labeling a man as attractive and automatically giving him the dominant role in the relationship.

The term “dad” is also used popularly, and it essentially equates to the same as “zaddy” or “daddy.”

But does the use of this term have anything to do with actual fathers? Not really. While some women may refer to their biological fathers as “daddy,” the use of the term in this particular instance has nothing to do with kinship. Most of my friends, at least, are uncomfortable with the term. “Ew, I’d never call a guy daddy. It reminds me of my dad,” friends tell me.

Designer Rachel Antonoff created a white shirt labeled with “daddy” on the front for her fall collection. Why? “I had wanted to do a shirt that said, ‘No more daddy-daughter dance’ just because, from the perspective of it being really heteronormative,” she says. “Then we changed it to daddy-daughter dance, and then we just shortened it to ‘daddy.’ It sort of had a weird little journey that actually had nothing to do with current pop culture.”

“On some level, there’s an element of creepy factor, like it’s just a gross word for some reason, and the idea of someone actually referring to their father as such, even though many people do, but it still is funny to me, which I think is part of why we were so amused by the idea of the daddy-daughter dance in the first place,” she added. “I think there’s an element of humor to it, to just tossing that word out there.”

I agree.

But still, where the hell does this term come from, and why is it so polarizing?

A Reddit thread from two years ago proves that most of us have no idea why we’re using this, yet we still are. In the thread, a tweet Lorde shared about Kim Kardashian was referenced to try to offer an explanation.

“I retweeted Kim’s amazing cover and wrote ‘MOM,’ which among the youthz is a compliment; it basically joking means ‘adopt me/be my second mom/I think of you as a mother figure you are so epic,” she wrote after a fan said that doing so wasn’t very feminist of her.

One Redditor chimed in, “The same thing happens with ‘Dad.’ I’m not sure how much is serious, how much is delusional, and how much is it weird daddy issues. You will find a mix of all of these.”

And that, indeed, is true.

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