THE WORST WEBCOMIC ON THE INTERNET – ASSIGNED MALE: HOW NOT TO TACKLE IMPORTANT ISSUES

Oh God. I’ve actually found it the worst  comic on the internet. This is literally the personification of everything that is wrong with the overzealous left on Tumblr. A comic worse than Sonichu. Less articulate than My Immortal.

A comic is so polarizing, so ranty, it even isolates other trans people and feminists. A comic that is so far left, that when right wing trolls do edits of it,half the time I have difficulty telling which ones are real and which ones are parodies. The only key difference is that the parodies are at least funny. Which is a problem.

Attempts to help like this, done horrendously, to talk about important issues just give trolls ammunition and undermine attempts at improving representation. Honestly, if someone was a centrist, naive and heard endless stories about how bad ‘SJWs’ were and then saw a few of these strips, I can see them easily siding with them. Hell, I actually cheered on the bigot strawmen in half these comics.

BASIC SUMMARY AND STORYTELLING

 

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What is the purpose of this strip?

This strip takes the form of a ‘gag a day’ strip, except without a gag, or humour. Because who needs humour? Instead, we get a heavy handed ham fisted gender studies lecture which usually involves Stephie commiserating with her echo chamber   I mean, band of sycophants friends about some issue, or else berating some unwitting passer by who accidentally stepped on a land mine.

I mean, we read comics to be entertained. No one ever liked PSAs. Even as kids, no one wanted to watch this:

Even when there is a legitimate punchline, it’s often muddied by a bizarre set up:

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I don’t understand what she’s parodying

Wait, so you DON’T want people to research trans issues and be a good ally? What’s your point?? Normally, when this is done, it’s done to parody the weird questions that LGBT people are asked, in attempt to show how demeaning/ ridiculous they are. For example:

‘When did you decide to be straight?’

‘Straight clubs have the BEEESSSST music. Oooooh, I have a straight friend- nothing in common except their straight- you wanna go out?’

But trans issues are more complex than being cis. And they definately need support in this climate.  So it doesn’t work. And her mum asked her a completely innocuous question- what are you spending your money on? Why the sarcasm? Is it because If Stephie said ‘the latest Ms Marvel comic’, Stephie might actually have had an interest and conversation that doesn’t center around gender?

As for It sometimes has mini arcs, but there isn’t much in the way of continuity. No characters really develop, and I still have no idea what personality Stephie’s supposed to have… I know she’s angry, irrational, judgmental and self absorbed, but  I don’t know what personality the creator intended her to have.

Which brings me onto the biggest problem:

THIS AUTHOR HAS NO INTEREST IN WRITING A CHARACTER

Even if this comic is called ‘Assigned Male- the incredible adventures of Stephie who just happens to be transgendered’, don’t be fooled. There is nothing ‘just happens’ about it. Stephie is trans.  I don’t really know anything about her goals, hobbies, or much about her except that she speaks like a gender studies student. Seriously. The author even admits Stephie has no other interests.

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I genuinely had to debate whether to put this in because i wasn’t sure if this was an edit or not.

Lampshading your failure to write an actual character does not fix the problem. Also, there are so many great female lead comics like Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Rat Queens and Ms Marvel… and you’re just going to dismiss the whole medium? When there’s a huge push at the moment to make the medium more inclusive? Hell, we saw another character reading a lumberjanes comic at one point- so the author must know this. And as for videogames, what about Child of Light or Undertale- or freaking Tetris or Candy crush?Or Indie games? Also, football loses value if cis men get anything from it? WTF?

There is one or two token examples of Stephie having a hobby or two– but they were done in a ham fisted ‘tell’ way, is never organically incorporated in the story telling such as say, Lisa Simpson and her sax, or the blokes from Friends and their love of football.

For another example of Sophie’s lack of irony, see this:

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What’s wrong with this panel? This is a reasonable point for every day trans people to make. But in the context of this comic there are  three things:

a) Trans and gender issues are the ONLY thing Stephie can talk about.

b) She’s in a webcomic about a transperson’s life- ie. A PIECE OF MEDIA ABOUT TRANS LIVES FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION

c) IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, WHY DID YOU AGREE TO THIS INTERVIEW?

STEPHIE AND HER SOCK PUPPETS ARE TERRIBLE PEOPLE

One thing to note, Stephie is supposed to be 11. She is 11 and she talks like This . Here’s more examples of Dick Grayson, age 12 speaks Stephie and her flunkies talk like:

11 years old – ‘Yes. Because of course I am a heterosexual cis male

11 years old- ‘so you want to compensate for your insecurity regarding your masculinity  and parenting skills by denying my identity‘ – NOT EVEN 20 YEAR OLDS TALK LIKE THIS

11 years old– ‘And spend the summer not getting any sleep because I’ll be so anxious performing a gender I don’t have.’

I understand that some kids are precocious, and the comic even tried to imply this in an earlier comic. But the reason  Lisa worked in the Simpsons was because she was the only character like this, and it contrasted with the straight man ie. the rest of Springfield. She even suffered iscolation from her peers due to her intellect.

This doesn’t work here because half the characters talk like this- even the strawmen. she’s literally like the raging feminists you find on campus that even the other feminists run a mile whenever they see them on the horizon.

Speaking of angry feminists, Oh God, the overwhelming problem with this story is how reprehensible the characters are and how aggressively they spout their views. Lets begin with the first ever comic.

Stephie is sick and Stephie’s mum takes her to the hospital. The receptionist notices that inspite of seeing a little girl, there’s a boys name on the card and she asks Stephie’s militant butch lesbian stereotype mum if there’s a mistake. Her mum, being a responsible adult, explains that Stephie identifies as female in a calm and rational manner…

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Her mum rages at the poor unsuspecting person trying to do their job.

Then, it’s Stephie’s turn. Stephie is angry with her mum. Is it because her mum’s being an irrational rage-aholic? No, it’s because she isn’t doing militant trans activism right. Even though her mum is sticking up for her and using language that mainstream activists use to describe being transgender, she is the real monster for getting it wrong. she throws a complete fit about it. Because apparently Stephie doesn’t think she wasn’t born in the wrong body- she doesn’t have gender dysphoria in spite of having it in other panels when convenient to the plot. No. This is a girl’s body. This is her girl’s penis! Even though she takes hormones and shows signs of dysphoria in some comics and then claims not to have it in others.

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HOW DARE SHE NOT MAGICALLY KNOW THAT STEPHIE’S EXACT WAY SHE VIEWS HER IDENTITY?!

Does her mum punish her for being a little shit? Of course not, Stephie can do no wrong and her mum bends and apologises. But the worst thing is her kid is sick and she leaves to hospital. She is literally going to let her kid be dangerously ill because some medical professional didn’t understand the situation at the counter and she couldn’t control her own kid. What a child abuser great parent.

HOW MILITANT THEY ALL ARE

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Wow. That passive aggressive bullshit definitely won’t isolate people who are reading your comic  to educate themselves and leave only the most militant of trans activists reading

Stephie  and her crew are absolutely horrendous to everyone around them. Even though trans people suffer from discrimination, homelessness and violence at alarming rates, you know what kind of issues this comic decides the tackle? Getting the wrong happy meal!

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Haha, I abused that minimum wage worker for no reason! 

Ah, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen non binary gender bending characters gain superpowers. But remember when Sailor Uranus used her powers to protect innocent people rather than assaulting overworked fast food employee? Yeah, that was terrible motivation. It would have been better if Sailor Uranus used it to attack people who got her the wrong toy on Child’s day or something. That would make her more engaging.sailor uranus.gif

No one even cares if you want a different toy. I used to ask for the boys toy all the time. I worked at a fast food place, we were used to switching them. The bronies already fought that civil right for you.  Let the internet fix this for you:

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This is how she treats the people around her. Attack them for the smallest slights! Most of her friends are trans/ non binary/ gay in some way or the other, but those who aren’t exist for two purposes: to be stawman and commit a slight for Stephie to yell at them about, or b) to worship the ground she walks on and only talk about her issues.

HOW STEPHIE HANDLES DEBATE

Well, it’s not about characters, and it’s not funny, and gives us lectures, it must be educational for newcomers, right? Lets look at how she handles arguments:

cray cray

 

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I JUST WANT TO  BE SAFE, YOU PATRIARCHAL. CISGENDERED. BIGOTED. FUCK!

And fun fact! The author trans Yuno Sophie Labelle got kicked out of a local trans group for going off on an angry tirade  ‘questioning their beliefs.’ I wonder how she could have approached them that would have provoked that response?

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And aww, ‘truscum’?  Isn’t that cute. She’s invented a new hate term for transgender people who don’t agree with her! It’s lovely how she keeps those spaces safe for other trans women where they can go and not be verbally attacked.

But that is assigned male in a nutshell.

It doesn’t want to educate the audience. It doesn’t want to make logical arguments. It wants the audience to blindly agree with her points otherwise they’re a PRIVELEDGED CISSEXIST TOOL OF THE PATRIARCHY!

Yet asking questions about those points for clarification- even none invasive none personal questions? SEE ABOVE. And accidentally making a mistake?  … BTW, whatever happened to that kid who said transwomen were women trapped in a male’s body?

Worse still, aside from the strawmen, the biggest target of her ire are the perfectly

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Actually, that’s a pretty good argument- it makes their issues a mater of human rights, and people often dehumanise trans people by referring to them as ‘it’, so it’s something people need reminding. It should be done because they’re smart, funny and talented? Okay, fine. But what about Caitlin Jenner or trans people we despise? Do we get to respect them? What about trans women who are violent criminals? If we respected trans women based on merit, wouldn’t that mean that misgendering women who are terrible people is okay?

This comic doesn’t just rely on blind aggression to argue its points! We also have logical fallacies:

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‘I am a Duck! And my body is MINE. So it can only be a duck’s body. Ducks have all types of bodies ‘ LOGIC

Strawman, strawman everywhere:

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Yes, because transphobes typically have a problem using crass terms for genitalia in regards to transwomen.

Giving the enemy swirly eyes:

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Yeah, twitter wasn’t convinced.

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See what you did there, but no, people not being attracted to trans people is a VERY different debate to people not being attracted to different races. The ‘you are transphobic for not wanting to date me’ directly plays into the TERF fear mongering that they do to lesbians that transwomen are gonna bully and manipulate them into having sex with them.

And the admission that the presence of any logical scrutiny will destroy her:

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Stephie makes an Illogical arguement, is called out on it, then she pivots.

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That does not counter his point

You should try and be more like the perfect ally like Stephie… speaking of allyship

STEPHIE IS SELF ABSORBED

hypocrisy lol

Hmmm, learning and mostly listening….

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Don’t tell other people how to advocate for their rights? Well, that’s good advice. Lets see how long Stephie can keep that up before she starts telling a gay anti bullying campaigner how to do it and making it all about Stephie:

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She couldn’t even listen for a fucking panel. And of course, gay activist couldn’t be allowed to be right or have validity talking about his own his own issues! No, we’re going to turn him into a strawman so her Sueiness can be right!

Oh, gee! Thanks for transplaining to a gay man what homophobia is and making him the REAL homophobe, asshole! Why couldn’t he be as well versed on gay issues as an 11 year old trans girl?

I’m sure a homophobia educator who selflessly devotes his time to travelling around schools to promote equality would TOTALLY start calling femme gays ‘fags’ in the middle of class. It’s not like he would have recieved letters from or spoken to boys who go bullied for being effeminate or anything.

And also- maybe they aren’t tired of the effeminate stereotype because they’re monsters. Maybe it’s because the swishy stereotype is the only representation they get in media, and they’re sick of basically being belittled and reduced to this:

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And lets not forget that she’s only started living as a female for five minutes, and yet she’s the only one enlightened enough to stand up to those sexists and realise objectification is wrong.

She’s also so self absorbed she can’t put her own issues aside to help a kid with his homework:

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This wouldn’t be so bad, but we never see her do anything or care for anyone else’s issues unless its gender related.

This comic isn’t the only one she spent berating the gays for not being good enough cis allies . She never attacks lesbians or Muslims funny enough, even though both groups tend to have far more issue with transwomen in their communities than gay men.

I personally have a theory as to why: morality isn’t based on your actions, but how marginalized you are. You’re only allowed to be sympathetic in this series if you have at least two marginalizations. Gay men are scum because even though they’re cis men and being gay doesn’t cancel that out. Cis women are dickheads because they’re still straight and cis. Lesbians- in spite of being typically more anti trans than gay men- don’t get criticised because they’re still both women AND gay and can’t be evil. Myrick gets forgiven for being traditionally masculine because he’s trans and POC. Her best friend is good because she’s black and female, in spite of being cis.

SCIENCE AND FACTS ARE TRANSPHOBIC

Ugh! The worst thing is that this is anti science and anti reason.

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But Stephie, You  ARE female, so any experiences you have will be a girls experience! It doesn’t matter how you’re percieved. Unless you’re saying that you need other people to validate your identity.

‘Saying there are male and female brains is neurosexist’. First, wha? Second. BUUULLLLLSSSSHIIIIIITTTTTT! It’s not neurosexist, it’s scientifically demonstratable. Scientists have actually done research and found that there are male and female brains.  In fact, it’s those big mean neurosexist scientists that are actually proving that transgenderism has a biological basis and that trans women really do have a feminized brain– thus not men pretending to be women.

But Stephie aint having nothing to do with biology.

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Actually, Mr Scientific Research provides us with DNA testing which can determine how many chromosomes you have. Why don’t you take one if you think they got that wrong, Stephie? Because you KNOW what chromosomes you have; this is a red herring and you know that. And it’s the MALE Y chromosome which triggers the processes in the womb that cause the development of a penis, except in exceptionally rare cases where something goes wrong, so yeah, if everything is working correctly Y chromosomes = boy parts = biological sex.

This isn’t even an arguement that trans activists even use anyway.

Most trans activists  have a perception of reality and can make reasonable arguments see a difference between ‘gender’ and ‘sex’.

Here’s a fucking diagram:

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But for all those gender studies books she reads, Stephie uses the words interchangeably (unless its in a talking point to bash teh gayz), which leads me to believe she doesn’t grasp even the basic gender theory.

But I’ll bite. So… if saying that sex difference isn’t in the brain, has nothing to do with genitals, biology, then it must be to do with clothes and gender roles? What did you say about that again?

mJRKJPF

 

So… the question remains… if gender has nothing to do with genitals, nothing to do with the brain, nothing to do with stereotypes and gender roles don’t mean anything and everyone gets to define gender for themselves… why do you need to identify as a girl? What is your motivation to transition? If girl and boy have no meaning besides what you want it to mean, why can’t you wear dresses and say you’re defining boy as someone who wears dresses? Afterall, you say men are privileged and being a girl sucks, so why do you want to experience life as a girl?

Also, why don’t you have dysphoria in the earlier part of the series and then get dysphoria in the later issues.

THE WORST PART

You know, there is so much more I wanted to talk about but don’t have enough energy to. This comic has ended me. Do you know what the worst part is? This book is being sold and marketed to small kids.

what a fun person

There are hardly any books dealing with trans characters, so this book about an angry, hateful, irrational person who has no personality is the role model trans children are getting- and what other kids will think being trans means.

If her comics are anything to go by, what riveting reads in age appropriate language we’re gonna get:

riveting stuff

They’re also getting to see a mother genuinely struggle to come to terms with their trans kid’s transition and see them painted as a monstrous harpy.

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How DARE she have difficult letting go of the child she gave birth to and the mother/ daughter bond she thought she was going to be able to treasure the rest of her life. Also, why would she burn clothes that SHE WOULD HAVE PAID FOR?

Why was Sophie so intent on not letting Stephie be a character? Instead of the lectures, why couldn’t she create a role model like Sailor Moon provided 20 years ago? Sailor Uranus was a wonderful role model and a fun character.

Sailor Uranus is brave, strong, cocky, loyal, a race driver, a loving girlfriend and superhero who fights evil with her friends. She doesn’t identify with either gender and takes the male role, pronouns, dress and identity in civilian life . We see her live as none binary without endless soapboxing. We see her fight evil with her friends, bicker with her girlfriend and raise a child, not lecture people endlessly on privilige and cissexism.

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A race car driver AND superhero? It’s almost like she has other things to worry about rather than who gave her the right happy meal

Or even Alyssa from the tween friendly Batgirl comics. She’s not a pivotal character, but she is a character

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OMG Alyssa can be trans AND have a life as well.

Why couldn’t have Sophie given the world one of these women? A girl that trans women could look up to and cis children could recognise as loveable? Why did she have to let her pet peeves- mostly against allies and well meaning people who say the wrong thing- overthrow her story.

She created a platform, and yet she created a work which is more famous for its anti SJW (and much funnier) memes than its content.

But did this always have to be the case? How could Sophie have created a comic that teaches people about important social issues while still being fun and entertaining? Well, next time I’m going to look at some well handled trans/ female etc characters in other mediums, and the odd couple of panels the author sort of got right, to explore how it could be done right.

GAME REVIEW: DOES DREAM DADDY REALLY LIVE UP TO ITS HYPE?

It feels like the whole internet has become obsessed with this overnight- spawning dozens of pieces of fanart, as well as lets plays, conspiracy theories and an inevitable toxic fandom– and why wouldn’t it? With the developer Game Grumps’ huge female following and its rare inclusion of gay men (including MOC and transmen) as datable romantic leads, it was bound to become a hit. Add to boot a mysterious secret ending hidden in the data files, its got everything needed to gain a huge cult following.

But is this game actually live up to its hype?

Well, after watching the strong opening on youtube (courtesy of Rantasmo) and seeing the positive response from gay and trans people, my curiosity was peaked in spite of my general disinterest in dating sims. So without further ado, lets have a look at the game.

 

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DISCLAIMER: Closest I’ve ever played to a dating game sim 

BUILDING YOUR DREAM DADDY: THE GREAT REPRESENTATION BEGINS HERE!

Probably its biggest claim to fame is the amount of diversity this game has, including well rounded characters who are gay, POC, and trans (plus it even has interesting female characters in the forms of Amanda and Mary).

Though there are great games  like Portal, Borderlands, Child of Light, Undertale and the Persona 3 and 4 with well written queer/ female/ POC etc characters, it’s no secret that the video game industry is lagging behind every other creative medium in terms of treating anyone not the presumed ‘default’  straight white/ Japanese etc as a human, in spite of an increased amount of female players and players  who are gay or of color.

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Love you Sazh, but Japan, what were you thinking with the chocofro?

Anyone not part of that demographic is barely considered appealing to as a periphery demographic, let alone the main demographic. So the fact that Dream Daddy exists is huge.

First off, it lets you have a wider range of body types than normal. You can choose to be a gym bunny, skinny guy, a bear or even freaking Goku.  (It lets you have Goku hair and eyes. I loved the concept). I just went for the eye candy, but judging by the delighted twiiter response, a lot of gay players were delighted to be able to play as someone like themselves.

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I created this handsome fella to be my protagonist

As for POC options, this one allows you to choose a range of skin tones, as well as hairstyles and features more typical of African Americans, including dreads ,cornrows, fuller lips and rounder noses.

And most notably of all, you can make your character cannonically trans. I  wouldn’t have noticed it if it wasn’t pointed out, but it does give you the option of wearing a binder, This is small, but such a wonderful acknowledgement which has really resignated well with trans players, who are typically relegated to being punchlines in games if included at all, although this improving at least in Western games.

NOT YOUR BLANK SLATE DATING SIM LEAD

Although you may be able to fully customise your sim, your dad’s personality is clearly defined. He’s a loveable goofy sitcom dad. Kind, laid back and socially awkward, he loves nothing more than spending time with his daughter, avoiding the gym and making bad dad jokes. No matter what dialogue option you chose, it could never make your character completely left field of his basic personality, and all the ‘bad’ dialogue choices came across as more of a case of MC putting his foot in his mouth than being cruel.

I think this was the right choice, because it made his relationships with the other characters (which I’ll move onto in a second)  more engaging and give or take. The only problem was the occasional disconnect between character and character model. There’s no way a character with 0% body fat and abs to die for would be that horrified by the thought of going to the gym and spend all day eating nachos.

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Damnit Link. I don’t care what your ingame excuse is,HOW CAN YOU NOT EMOTE!?

Plus, if I chose to play as a trans dad and chose to date the trans character, wouldn’t MC have shown more of a reaction after the binder revelation? Just one extra line of dialogue just would have made it that much more immersive.

THE DADDY DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP

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A great advantage of having a clear personality as your lead is the banter. What sold me on this game is the relationship between Amanda (your daughter) and MC. I LOVED Amanda. A world away from the bratty valley girl, she is a vivid, funny, quirky teenage girl who’s supportive of your relationships, but also brings her own teenaged troubles to the table which was really engaging and heart wrenching.

In effect, you’re working towards two endings for your dad. You’re working towards getting the good Amanda ending, as well as the good ending with whichever dad you’re hoping will be your one true love. When i first played this, I went for hunky married youth pastor Joseph because I knew he’d be a train wreck and I wanted to see what happens. I ended up getting up getting the Bad Ending with him (apparently the youth of today don’t appreciate my dance moves), but even though I ended up alone, it wasn’t a sad ending because I still had Amanda and it felt really real and bittersweet.

Of course, just don’t get both the Joseph and Amanda bad ending because it’s just that depressing.

INTRODUCING… THE DADS

Now, we’re onto what everyone’s really interested in: the smexy mancandy. Basically, the first part of the game sets the scene and deals with Amanda. After you’ve met all the dads, it allows you to go on ‘Dadbook’, where you make a profile, and choose which dad to date. You can date any dad up until you choose to go on the third date, which is when you will commit to a dad and get his ending for better or worse.

Here’s a quick intro to the dads, but if you’re not interested, skip to the paragraph below Joseph.

BRIAN

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Helloooo, Murse!

Brian is the bearish rival dad. You spend your whole time competing with him while he shows you nothing but magnamity and kindness- so essentially his story involves our protagonist creating conflict where none is to be seen.

ROBERT

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He’s essentially the ‘damaged bad boy with a heart of gold.’ He’s an interesting story because his story intersects Joseph’s, making for a more interesting story. The only downside is that half of his ‘rebellions’ and ‘bad boy actions’ feel excessively juvenile rather than a badass. To me he felt like that rebellious cousin you look up to when you’re 15, but doesn’t look so cool when they’re 39 and still exactly the same.

CRAIG

BONUS-DAD-TENT

A very popular dad and your college best friend, he’s the typical sporty ‘jockish’ dad. You can tell he’s very manly because he uses bro every other sentence. He’s pretty cool because he’s a gay asian whose conventionally very macho, which is something very rare in the media.

DAMIAN

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The bizarre goth dad. Although they don’t have a clear handle on what goth is (referring to My Chemical Romance goth, even though its one of the defining bands of the Emo movement and generally despised by Goths), they use his OTT nature for some pretty entertaining scenerios. His is possibly the most entertaining route.

MAT

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He’s the cute nerd who gets flustered and babbles on an awkard tangent. Although not as instantly sexy as Craig or some of the others, his and MC’s shared doofiness do make for some heartwarming moments and he’s a grower.

MR VEGA

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The sophisticated teacher who ironically has the gobby hellraiser of a son. I’d feel sorry for him, but he named his own son Ernest Hmingway. That just screams ‘Man Who Goes To Tate And Mistakes Dropped Crisp packet As Revolutionary Piece Of Art.”

JOSEPH

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If you ever fantasised about gaining a virtual dick and sticking it in crazy, then Joseph is the route for you. He’s married to what seems to be an awful alcoholic and is very invested in being a role model to his church, so already we have more conflict than the other dads. He is the one dad who completely diverges from the traditional dating conventions, as his story possibly touches on the closet and also unhappy marriages and infidelity. Both his good and bad ending are bittersweet, and both are actually worth playing. PRO TIP: Complete the first two dates for Damian and Robert before going down Joseph’s route. It makes for a better story.

As you can see from the descriptions, it plays out like a typical dating game sim, and your success with your chosen dad depends on your  responses to certain questions and situations.

For the most part, I found Most of the dads are really, really likeable and the dialogue is on the sweet and uplifting side. There’s not much conflict (except when pertaining to the Joseph and Robert  routes), but the dialogue is engaging and funny enough to keep you hooked. I suppose the overall feel can be described as sort of Steven Universe without the aliens, where everyone is basically warm and engaging,

Because of the three dates rule, it’s significantly shorter than your average dating sim/ graphic novel (especially when compared to goliaths such as Fate Stay Night). Because aside from which dad you choose to interact with, the storytelling is mostly linear and so if you want to restart it can get a bit repetitive.

The best thing to do is create a character and go on two dates with each dad, and then complete the final date.

ATTITUDE TO GAY PEOPLE

 

This was my biggest worry, considering the way male/male romance and yaoi tends to belittle and fetishize gay men.

As I played this I did not believe for one second that this game had a gay man as a lead writer for a variety of reasons I will go into in a different post. I guessed bisexual female based on the Teagan and Sara reference and the way Amanda was written, and judging by my research I was right. This is very much a gay relationship put into a  heteronormative dating framework.

However, it does not treat its male leads as yaoi bate and made them engaging well rounded characters and contains none of the belittling of gay men that I’ve come to expect from this type of genre.

DID DREAM DADDY LIVE UP TO ITS EXPECTATIONS?

Overall, yes. In terms of inclusion, it lives up for its reputation. As for the writing, although it is pretty short and linear, the writing is suprisingly good, with plenty of references to geek culture, humour, genuine character interactions and even moments tha can be heartbreaking and touching.

HOWEVER, due to its very linear path and short length, it somewhat lacks in replayability. Even though it’s popular at the moment, unless it spawns some sequels, it lacks the replayability to be an enduring classic like Fate Stay Night.

RATING

3 bad dad jokes out of 5

 

THOUGHTS FROM ACTUAL GAY PEOPLE

It has to be noted, as a bisexual woman, I am not the group that is represented in this.

For some thoughts on it from gay/ trans men who are represented in the game, I have a few links here:

http://kotaku.com/what-we-liked-and-didnt-like-about-dream-daddy-1797270467

https://mic.com/articles/182664/dream-daddy-trans-inclusion-damien#.yTcqvGSos

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Experience Machine- Jason Werbeloff

The skullcap sits to one side of the chair. Its snaking wires and sensors throw a Medusa shadow against the basement wall. I touch its plastic. Stroke its wiry hair.

The Machine gives me everything I want. Or the one thing I want. Life in a woman’s body, under the tangerine glow of the Spiral Arm Nebula. But nothing remains the same for long, not even in the timeless worlds of the Experience Machine.

Fantasy; obsession; impossible desire. The Experience Machine is a brilliant dark horror/ science fiction story about living in a world that’s so cold and stifling, that building a machine that allows you to live out any desire is the only way you can be yourself. The happiness found in the Experience Machine comes at a price, however, as our protagonist finds their life in the real world slowly unravelling and each jaunt in the machine taking a dangerous toll on his health.

I think we can all relate to (the unfortunately named) Manfred, as there’s been a time in everyone’s life where things have been so dreadful that you feel like the only escape is to the world of fiction. Manifred’s desire is even more desperate because s/he’s going through the worst struggle of all- feeling like s/he’s in the wrong body and attracted to men in a dysphoria where it seems like transgender/ genderfluid and gay community don’t exist.

I’m currently using male pronouns to describe Manifred/ Mascara because male pronouns that are used throughout the story (and in his cameo in Hedon). Manifred doesn’t use the words ‘trans’, and it is not pinned down whether our protagonist is trans or suffering from gender dysphoria. This makes sense, because the world of Manifred/ Mascara is populated by strawman bigots and Manifred/ Mascara is still young and living with their bigoted religious parents, so they probably lack the freedom and language to fully explore their identity.

Our protagonist’s voice is very well done. The writing and language is very simple, flowing and engaging. We find ourselves gripped by Manifred’s struggles, and by watching him try to straddle between his two worlds- the real world of coldness and bigotry, and the fantasy world of romance and acceptance. Like with a lot of Werbeloff’s other works, the religious people our protagonist has to contend with are presented as crude, strawman bigots who vomit  homophobic bile every time they open their mouths. I might object to this portrayal of homophobia as oversimplified, but sadly, as Werbeloff lives in America- the land of Donald Trump and televangelists- I can’t criticize the portrayal because there’s sadly too much truth in it.

The best part of this story  was its  twisted, brutal and glorious ending. When I started reading this, I was certain I knew how it was going to end, but I was glad to be proven wrong. The ending went full slasher as it devolved into a delicious bloodpath that was sick, graphic and yet refreshing and extremely funny. In his other short stories, Werbeloff often stumbles to make the dismount with his finales, but here he made his landing with Olympic-level form. I have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone who wants to read grizzly sci fi horror dripping with black humour.

RATING: 5 mad scientists/ 5