Queering UX Design: A UX Review of the Dream Daddy App

Ben Davies-Romano
13 min readJan 20

A little while ago, a fellow UX-nerd friend mentioned that she’d spent 10 hours on a Saturday playing an app in which she was role-playing a dating fantasy in a choose-your-own-adventure game. She had seen the ad for this app over and over again until she decided to check it out. What began as a half-hearted joking look into what she had assumed would be some knock-off 50 Shades of Grey fantasy turned out to be very, VERY engaging.

This app reminded me of one that went viral a couple of years ago — “Dream Daddy”. We’re not talking “Daddy” in the sense of “Father” here, by the way. If you know, you know, and if you don’t? This will be a very puzzling (and possibly educational) read for you.

A screenshot of the opening screen for the Dream Daddy app. The pink logo in cursive script with hearts is in the center, with the tagline “A Dad Dating Simulator” and illustrations of the various Dad characters in the background.
Legitimately the simulator you didn’t ask for, but need.

Dream Daddy has become a bit of a cult thing online. Now and then, I see a reference to one of the datable dad characters. However, I’d never tried it. So after my friend admitted that she’d spent 10 hours in her first session with a similar app, and seeing it referenced in a random tweet, I decided to try it out.

So, buckle in, time to become your dad-self and get dating — and, of course, consider why these kinds of apps might prove to be so addictive and what we can take as inspiration for UX work in other areas.

Top of the journey: first impressions from the App Store

My first surprise came when in the logo, I noticed the little head of a baby in a carrier peeking up out of the corner, strapped to a man. “Dream Daddy” is “Daddy” in the literal sense as well as the queer sense in this world.

A screenshot of the App Store listing for the Dream Daddy app. There are screenshots showing some of the Dad characters in the app, along with a 4.1 star rating and age recommendation for 17+.
Such pointy men.

Now, most of us will look at those screenshots first to get a first impression and decide whether we’re going to download an app or not. The imagery was what I was expecting — three triangularly-shaped men in three different archetypes. However, the line of dialogue shown has a pun: “mis-steak”. And it looks like they’re at a barbecue. That’s a proper dad joke, and not what I was expecting. Consider me drawn in.

Additionally — not only are they in the “Simulation” category but “Simulator” is present in…

Ben Davies-Romano

UX, Product, Marketing and all spaces in between | UX Lead at Klarna | Co-founder of Tech Outcasts (www.techoutcasts.com) | ☕️ and 🏳️‍🌈