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Dating sims dating single

is an unabashedly queer game, but not performatively so; it's far more interested in being than announcing.

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During the resolution of one storyline, you're given an option when comforting one of the dads in a moment of personal crisis: You can tell him what he wants to hear or tell him what he Some of the dads have had relationships with women, some with men, but there's no agonizing about their sexual orientation and no more mention of it than there would be in a traditionally heterosexual romance.Leighton Gray, a 19-year-old student at the Savannah College of Art and Design who created, cowrote, and art-directed , is queer herself; when she and cowriter Vernon Shaw sat down to develop the game, she says, defying stereotypes was at the forefront of their minds: “We wanted to set up expectations and knock them down.”Those complex characterizations not only make the story far more interesting, they render obsolete the usual rules of dating sims.For all of the genre's seeming emphasis on romance, dating sims often contain a reductively transactional notion of love and sex, relying on a mechanic that independent game developer Arden once described as “kindness coins”: Put enough compliments or gifts into the object of your affection and receive sex in return.It’s a subversion of dating sims that is not just the best dating sim I’ve ever played but also one of the best games of the year.At first glance, the game's romantic roster looks like a who’s who of sexy stereotypes: the bad boy, the jock, the sensitive artist, the clean-cut hunk.But Gray sees something very different in the passionate response from fans: an audience that has gone dismally underserved by an industry that has failed to either see it or acknowledge it, and one that is ready to show up in force when offered a full-course meal rather than just scraps.

She points to game franchises like , both of which have amassed huge followings in part because of the in-depth (and gender-inclusive) romances they offer in between their battles.

You can try to impress the music nerd or the academic with knowledge you don't have, but chances are your fakery will fall flat.

You might think that the best way to win points with a standoffish dad is through sarcasm; once you learn his backstory, however, you find that what he really wants is kindness.

Gray notes that while queer people—along with women and people of color—have long been expected to sympathize with straight, white cis characters, the mainstream games industry remains reluctant to ask the reverse.

And yet, this presumed lack of empathy or imagination hasn’t stopped lots of people outside the LGBT community from playing and helping make it a hit.“This is a very queer game, but it has legs longer than what a lot of people might have considered niche,” Gray says.

“You’re not going to be sleeping on a mattress surrounded by empty bottles of Mountain Dew. A daddy who has their life together enough to take care of another person is probably more emotionally mature than a twentysomething dude might be.”If ’s hit status suggests any one thing, though, it's that entrenched ideas about what kind of games can be successful and who wants to play them have less to do with reality and more to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy that the industry has become.