Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015 is my Favourite Thing About This Year.
2015 was a pretty sweet year in terms of culture and entertainment. But there is one thing about this year I love above all else and it is this game:
In Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015 you play the role of a young boy who is looking to shower with his dad, while avoiding all the other dads that are showering in the same shower block. As you would expect the levels become more difficult as you progress, and there are some side-quest mini-games on offer to keep things interesting, but this is basically what it says on the tin. Lots and lots of showering with your dad, and all for about a buck.
There are three things going on with this game at a conceptual level that are just pure brilliance to me. The first is the fail-state for this game, which is that you lose when you jump in the shower with the wrong dad. I can remember going camping with my family as a small child and having to navigate the shower-blocks trying to find my dad, and I can tell you there is nothing more humiliating than walking in on the wrong dad. It was more shameful than accidentally calling your teacher ‘mum’ by a country mile. There are lots of games which are based on very day-to-day events, but few in which losing makes so much intuitive sense.
The second thing that works really well here is just that it takes maximum advantage of every opportunity to make a dad joke. As someone who is really not a fan of puns, I still appreciate how well that sort of groan-inducing humour belongs here.
My absolute favourite thing about this game, though, is in the positive associations it fosters around masculinity and fatherhood. Men are often portrayed as inadequate care-givers for children or, worse, lurking sexual predators who cannot be trusted around children. We saw this in the bare-faced hostility and suspicion that Shia LaBeouf received for performing with Maddie Ziegler in Sia’s “Electric Heart” video. And this vilification of men, in turn, makes it difficult for them to confront gender norms and take on nurturing roles that are traditionally associated with women and mothers.
Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015 confronts this image head-on by forcing nude children into showers with nude dads––pixelated dinkles on display and all! And by emphasising the pedestrian nature of this interaction, the game reinforces the natural sense of innocence that is inherent in a healthy child-parent relationship. There is nothing special about fathers washing their children, or being openly affectionate with their sons, but what is remarkable is that media depictions of men doing these things are so rare.
It’s not a perfect game. There could be more racial diversity in the father-son pairings, and, although it would be difficult to implement in terms of gameplay mechanics, I wouldn’t mind seeing hints at adoptive or mixed-race families. And even though I feel like people would be way more uncomfortable with this game if it included daughters in the mix––for the same reasons I outlined above––I hope it’s something that is included in the 2016 release which is presumably on its way.
Finally, though, as testament to how amazing this game is, I want to leave you with a Let’s Play video of the game prominently featuring Justin McElroy of MBMBaM (“muh-bim-bam”) and The Adventure Zone. Just a note that it’s a bit of a NSFW video or, as Justin puts it, “There’s a lot of fucking nude dads so you better just strap in.”