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They simply follow their hearts, and any obstacles they face are a result of emotional and personal complications, not struggles with their identities.

“We were determined to not make any of the dads' individual paths their sexuality or have their sexuality be their defining trait," Gray says.

“I’ve seen so many people who are straight or who never play videogames play it.”The simplest explanation for its broad appeal is the most obvious: It’s just a really good game.

But its subject matter—dads—also touches a nerve that resonates with just about everyone.

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.

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 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.Spend a little more time with them, however, and these facades dissolve, revealing complicated men whose passions, secrets and struggles cannot be neatly contained in cookie-cutter character types.Yes, the Goth Dad enjoys cloaks and long walks in graveyards, and the Jock Dad loves getting in his reps at the gym—but they both struggle to cope with rebellious children, shattered marriages, and the parts of their lives that they are ashamed to share with the world.“The most moving [feedback] comes from people who are trans or nonbinary people feeling really included in this experience,” Gray says.“Someone actually messaged me today and said that this game encouraged them to come out as non-binary to their parents.

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