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.“Dads are such a universal, emotional thing for people, whether you have a good or bad relationship with your father, or no father in your life,” Gray says.
One of the dads, Damien, is transgender as well, though you can easily play through the game without realizing it; there's no neon sign pointing at his gender identity, only subtle hints as you get to know him better.
Like the rest of the dads, he is who he is—and he is allowed to be, without controversy.
"We can have narratives that are about queer people that are not necessarily about being queer.
It’s about these relationships.”When you create your own character, you also have the option to make him a trans dad if you wish, complete with the ability to choose chest binders.
is an unabashedly queer game, but not performatively so; it's far more interested in being than announcing.
Some of the dads have had relationships with women before, 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.“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.“The argument ‘oh, I don’t know if it’s going to sell’ isn’t going to fly anymore," Gray says.“A lot of times with dating sims it’s a matter of getting a read on the character’s personality and telling them exactly what they want to hear,” Gray says.“That's a really frustrating way to play a game.”, though, encourages players not to think about romance as a game at all.“I know so many people who play those games not because they’re interested in the combat but because they want the romance and the relationships,” she says.