Leighton is a writer, sometimes illustrator, story consultant and game developer based out of Los Angeles, California. She is the co-creator, co-writer, and art director of Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator. She is currently the art director at The Fullbright Company (Gone Home, Tacoma) and hates talking about herself in the third person.
She attended (and subsequently dropped out of) the Savannah College of Art and Design for sequential art and was a part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Games for some reason. She frequently travels to do public speaking about art history, video games, and how Twitter is bad.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (2017) (Video Game), Game Grumps, Buy
Leighton’s interview to Milk & Honey, as seen in Milk & Honey Comic Anthology Issue 1:
interview asked by editor Giancarlo D'Alessandro
M&H: Dream Daddy is a fantastic and hilariously written visual novel. What came first in the conception? The story or the idea of presenting it as a game?
LG: The idea for the game originated from the character creator, where you can create your own “Dadsona”. I had just recently played Hatoful Boyfriend (the dating sim where you date pigeons) and figured a game about Dads dating Dads would be interesting and fun. My cocreator Vernon and I developed all of the characters first and did some pretty extensive world building and planning before we even started writing. It all blossomed from there.
M&H: Your writing plays off “dad” jokes and culture, but also looks at issues in the gay community. What would you say was the main message you wanted your readers to take away from Dream Daddy?
LG: There are a lot of messages seeded throughout the game: it’s okay to like the things you like, it’s never too late to make up for past mistakes, sometimes you need to put your needs above the needs of others, etc. Ultimately I think it all boils down to trying to convey how you can be supportive and kind to the people you care about.
M&H: Dream Daddy was produced by Game Grumps, a popular video game culture Youtube channel. How did you come about collaborating with them?
LG: When I shared the idea for this game with Vernon, it wasn’t a formal pitch at all. We were on a day trip to Disneyland and I jokingly mentioned the idea to him. He ended up loving it so much that we spent the rest of the day outlining what the project might look like. Vernon works for Game Grumps, so we developed a pitch bible for them and they agreed to fund/produce the project. They’ve been super supportive and a joy to work with this past year!
M&H: Many reviews I’ve seen say that Dream Daddy is a ‘surprise hit’, but you and I both know that hunky dads are always a recipe for success. Did it still come as a surprise when you saw the immediate response about your game?
LG: A lot of this game was very intentionally designed to be shareable, but I can speak for the whole team when I say that we’re blown away by how much it blew up. I don’t really read or look at anything that isn’t directly tweeted at me, I only read the articles my mom sends to me, etc. Regardless, I still constantly stumble on memes or art about our game constantly, which is a really surreal feeling. Plus having people we really respect tell us that they love our game is the best feeling in the world.
M&H: Amanda, the main character’s teenage daughter, has a witty and loving relationship with the player. Has your own dad been an inspiration in your work?
LG: For sure. Player Dad’s relationship with Amanda is a pretty direct parallel to my relationship with my Dad growing up, so I’m really glad it’s resonating with people. My hope was that people would be able to see their own relationship with their dads from a parent’s perspective, and maybe have a greater appreciation for the emotional complexities of some of the big decisions you make as a parent.