Has a straight heteronormative man you’ve never met before ever stopped you in the street in broad daylight with these words?
"Excuse me, I just had to say hello."
At first it seems unassuming. But the reason why they’ve approached you might not be as innocent as you think.
Under the radar, a dating trend known as Daygame is taking the world by storm and becoming a subculture in its own right. The clue’s in the name – this is a game which is played by men all over the world, not at night but in the morning or the afternoon, without the cover of darkness.
Daygame’s founders describe it as "the art of meeting and attracting amazing women without going to nightclubs". And on related blogs as well as the dedicated Daygame website, men are seeking advice about how to approach women.
According to the website, "the reason women watch romantic comedies and read romantic fiction novels is because it plays into their fantasy of how they’ll meet the guy of their dreams." The practice plays upon this claim and sees men learning techniques from dedicated 'coaches' who charge upwards of £950 for a 'bootcamp session' and claim to have the secrets needed to "discover how to meet, approach, and attract beautiful women anywhere, any time."
Sure, this sounds just like the plot of the iconic Will Smith romcom Hitch and, as in the movie, it begs the question: Is romance really romance if a pick-up artist is involved? Is being approached by a stranger while you’re going about your day-to-day business the stuff of high romance or in the same league as being catcalled?
Perhaps one of the most troubling things about Daygame is its prominence on Roosh V-related forums. Roosh V is the notorious pick-up artist who wrote the creepily titled book Day Bang: How To Casually Pick Up Girls In The Day and once even called for rape to be made legal on private property.
However, according to James Tusk, a Daygame coach and founder of Project Tusk, a website dedicated to the technique, it’s all above board.
"Daygame is essentially just teaching men to be more confident and to be able to speak to the opposite sex without relying on alcohol, going to clubs or using online dating apps," he explains. "It’s a more honest way of meeting women because you’re presenting yourself as sober and it’s spontaneous."
But for Faye, 28, who’s experienced Daygame countless times in the seven years she’s lived in London, the fact that it is performed in the street, usually when the woman is alone, is problematic.
"Personally, I’d feel safer having someone come up to me in a bar," she says. "I’d probably be with my friends and there are usually lots of other people in close proximity who can step in and get involved when it’s clear I’m uncomfortable."
In a city as busy as London, where everyone’s in a rush, the chances of someone spotting a woman wanting an 'out' during a Daygame interaction and stepping in are slim. Can a situation like this, in which one person feels compelled to talk for fear of being viewed as rude, really be an organic way to meet a partner?
As Chloe, 24, puts it: "Someone approaching you off the cuff, if done right, could be romantic – but the nature of Daygame makes me question their motives. Do they really want to find love, or do they just do it as a power play?"
So who are the men using Daygame as a technique for meeting women and what are they looking for? According to James, there’s really no one-size-fits-all answer.
"I teach men of all ages, from 18 to 70," he says. "Some are young guys who just wanna have some fun, some are guys that are divorced, some guys are virgins really lacking in confidence and very socially awkward." So far, so Hitch. And we all know how that ended for poor Albert.
Dig a little deeper, though, and Daygame proves to be a lot less romantic and clean-cut than it appears on the big screen.
On Twitter, a quick search of the term 'Daygame' brings up a worrying number of explicit messages from those partaking in the game. Countless blogs, YouTube videos and Reddit threads exist on the topic, which see Daygamers from all over the world coming together to discuss their 'lays' and how they’ve increased their number of sexual partners using tips and tricks learned from one another.
Jamie, a blogger who partakes in Daygame, describes himself as being "33, below average height (5'7") and in-shape". He defends the practice, saying: "There are lots of good people who 'do daygame' and they add net value and good vibes to the world, and there are others who are still adjusting and weird girls out occasionally."
On his own blog, he records his Daygame experiences in minute detail, from the approach he used to intricate details of the woman’s appearance, along with graphic insights into the sex they’ve had. One blog entry from March 2019 reads: "I met Natalie on Upper Street. 5"7, slim body, 23 years young – however, I was slightly put off by a mole just to the left of her nose, which at the time appeared to be a dodgy colour." How delightful.
The rhetoric used in Daygame blogs such as Jamie's is inherently misogynistic and it’s doubtful any of the women featured consented to having their experience documented, pseudonym or not. Entries like the one above make it difficult to believe that meeting someone through Daygame is as spontaneous as Daygamers would like to believe.
As this tweet from August 2019 shows, for some men in Daygame it’s less about genuine interaction and more about upping their stats:
According to Mirra, 31, who lives in Soho and recently experienced Daygame on Carnaby Street, this formulaic nature is the most unnerving thing about being approached by those participating in Daygame. "Nothing about the behaviour of the two men who stopped me was inappropriate, but it was still creepy nonetheless and their questions were very contrived," she says.
While saying hello to someone you like the look of isn’t necessarily crossing any boundaries, the power dynamics of the situation deserve scrutiny. "You’re stuck in a conversation they’ve pitched in such a clever way that they’re not being sleazy by their standards because they’re just chatting with you," Faye explains. "I think it’s incredibly manipulative because they make you feel like you’re not a very nice person if you dismiss them."
This discomfort and feeling like it’s impossible to simply say you’re not interested in talking to a man is one most women know all too well. We feel it in the gym, when men approach us to mansplain how best to lift our weights, and in clubs, when saying we have a boyfriend is the only statement that will get a creepy guy out of our space. Is Daygame just another instance of men pushing their own agenda and refusing to allow a woman to walk down the street undisturbed?
James doesn’t think so, and explains that he teaches men how to read the room and detect when their attention is unwelcome.
"If the girl’s not interested, then it’s not a case of pushing it," he says. "You go up and say 'Hello, I thought you looked good' and if the girl is obviously showing signs of disinterest or wanting to leave the conversation, that’s completely fine. That’s the worst case scenario."
Assuming, then, that the conversation is enjoyed by both parties, the structured nature of Daygame, which involves 'stacking' – throwing out assumptions about a woman’s nationality, outfit and mood as a technique for prolonging the conversation – still begs the question: would you want to meet a partner this way?
For Chloe, 24, the answer is no. "If I found out later that my partner had only approached me as some sort of dating practice or using a strategy, it would seem sinister and manipulative," she says.
In our digital age, where apps have replaced traditional dating rituals like blind dates, setting friends up and meeting someone through work, we all understand the desire to get off dating sites and reignite the lost art of connecting in real life. The tacit nature of Daygame, however, makes it feel inauthentic. Stopping women in the street with a set of premeditated questions and techniques seems like just another way for men to exert their power over women.
Daygame may have originated as a technique used by dating coaches such as James to boost confidence and encourage better social interactions between men and women, but it has been tarnished by a few members of the community. Just as there are those who use dating apps like Tinder to connect with others and those who abuse them to send unsolicited dick pics, it’s a dating technique that needs to be practised with respect and social awareness. Because it can have seriously sinister undertones in the wrong hands.