Oh boy, I'm about to write some stuff that I really never thought would cross my keyboard.
Dream Daddy is a dating simulator about gay dads dating other dads, published by, Game Grumps and released July 21st, to mixed reviews. Among these critiques recently, a debate about the dad, Joseph as surfaced, after the game was released and data miners got to doing what they do best. The big discovery was a unfinished bit of code which contained an alternate ending for Joseph's arc. The information, as of now, is incomplete, and rumors are swirling around at a fever pitch. There is a lot to sift through and a lot of unconfirmed facts, but here is the general issue: Joseph, a Christian, bisexual, white man, is in some sort of cult and the pieces of this ending painting a rather concerning picture of a literally demonized, predatory bisexual dude.
Rightly so, people were upset about this portrayal. It's fucked up, after all, and more and more people are choosing to boycott the game. Which is, of course, their decision, taken from their opinions given their backgrounds and what they believe. Cool, but what I am absolutely disgusted by, is the level of vitriol some of these people hold for people who are still going to play Dream Daddy, based almost entirely on a scene which isn't in the game and was left unfinished. Here are some questions I've asked myself in these last few days, and trust and believe I have some opinions. Is the offense equal to the punishment? Is it hypocritical as a gamer who has played and enjoyed something problematic at some point, to condemn on people for enjoying something problematic? Is this, really the hill we should be dying on? If this is getting too long for you, you can leave here with the short version, no: fuck yes, and no, for a white man? No.
Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?
So first of all, this scene isn't in the game. The developers haven't confirmed or denied that there were ever plans for it to go into the game at some point in the future or if it was scrapped. It was a huge mistake to leave that scene in the game code. People data mine everything these days. But can you judge a game based on scraps of code you dug out of the deepest corners of the game files? No, and I just don't think that warrants a boycott, especially when the success of this game puts money primarily in the pockets of the Queer people who made it. Now, I don't want to say, just because Queer people made it, we need to support it. That type of thinking leads to some absolutely appalling mindsets. But I just don't think this is enough to know if the devs are bad people.
We've all thought horrible things. The difference between a bad person and a good person is the decision of whether to say that horrible thing or not. The back end files of video games are like the thoughts of the developers. When you data mine, you are looking at thoughts, not actions. And it is unfair to judge people on their thoughts if their thoughts stay to themselves and their actions aren't harmful to others. I really feel like this instance falls into that category.
Is This Whole Discussion Hypocritical?
I am the first person to allow people their contradictions. I don't hate hypocrisy, dissonant opinions from the same person, or other contradictions people may have inherently. I do hate certain instances of these phenomena but, they are not innately bad. The world is messy. So, I feel conflicted about this. On one hand, I don't think I necessarily care if people, who have played other problematic games, taking a stand on this. That doesn't have any baring on their current decisions. What is wrong is the amount of people condemning others for coming to the same conclusion they've come to before on other topics. All gamers make moral allowances, games have bad politics, it's unavoidable. A lot of us also, at some point, pass on a game for moral reasons. It's okay to boycott something but, attacking people who are enjoying one of the few games that succeeds, in some sense, in inclusiveness on the basis of a scene that wasn't in the game is ridiculous. It's especially ridiculous when this vitriolic resentment is coming from people who consume other problematic content and enjoy it, which, once again, is every gamer.
Someone shouldn't be able to play Persona 5 and love it to death though: Yosuke being scrubbed clean of any acknowledgement of his Queerness, the disgusting treatment of Ann, and that horrible reoccurring gay joke in the red light district, and suddenly decide that somehow people who are enjoying Dream Daddy are: A. different than them and B. any worse than them. This also applies to you anime lovers out there.
Is This the Hill we Want to Die on?
When I say this I mean, this is the most conversation about a fucked up scene in a game, as I've heard in a while, and not nearly the worse I've seen. Yet, this is the one folks want to wage a full out war about, against a primarily Queer indie team, for a concerning scene, that wasn't included in the game. Yes, we can hold two thoughts in our heads at once but I flat out don't see this same level of anger towards straight, dudes making horribly problematic games. I would have loved to see this level of nuance applied to Breath of the Wild and how gross and predatory Link is in the entire Gerudo arc. Or maybe Children of Zordiarcs which has an entire cast of children experiencing and inflicting horrible violence throughout the game. But we don't expect the every day game to give a damn about trying to do better so when those games come out they slide under the radar with maybe a couple of comments, but mostly nothing. Now, I would advocate for a harsher judgement of all games but this brings up a secondary question.
Why judge Dream Daddy more harshly than games that are fucking this stuff up constantly? Why crawl up Bioware's ass for including gay romance options when their whole team is straight. We're falling down a slippery slope as a community of disenfranchised gamers of never supporting anything that has a molecule of care about us, put into it because, it isn't perfect. That holier than thou streak needs curving, now.
This Feels Slimy
I feel a little slimy having written this. It is out and out tone policing and I do not advocate for that usually but, I just can't abide by this level of pretentiousness and misplaced anger directed and people who are trying to play a game where they feel represented because it isn't utter perfection. So I stand by the fact that this is problematic and I know it.