fatherhood in video games

Video games have had fatherhood themes running through them for years – in earlier times, more simple storylines and relations were popular, such as Donkey Kong passing the torch to Donkey Kong Jr*. Fatherhood was, for a long time, a trope for a sequel.

Jorge Albor of PopMatters, however, recently discussed the more modern and complex storylines that have created some of this generation’s great games. Games like The Last of Us, Heavy Rain, and The Walking Dead Season 1 provide good examples for Albor of modern games tackling fatherhood issues.

Jorge Albor – since you asked – is co-creator of video game blog Experience Points, and a Community Development Manager at Wikia, in addition to contributor to PopMatters.

When thinking about fathers in video games, it’s easy to find them in fighting games: a handful of male characters in the Tekken, Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive series ended up dads. In RPGs, fathers show up from time to time. But more recently, action games took on the role of complicated fatherhood, from the Metal Gear Solid series to the BioShock series to the God of War series.

But it’s only been recently that games have become so complex and story-driven that we’ve seen truly moving fatherhood moments in games. Think about Ethan Mars in Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain. He loses sight of his son for just a moment in a crowded mall and that’s what sets off your story:

In Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, you play as a character named Joel who is tasked with carrying some “cargo” across the United States. Thing is, that cargo is Ellie, a girl who is important in the resistance to a zombie outbreak. Joel had recently lost his daughter (spoiler alert!) and Ellie ends up filling the void in different ways:


There are plenty of other games out now that touch upon fatherhood, including Albor’s other example, The Walking Dead Season 1. Heck, even Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 works fatherhood into the story, but in a flatter sort-of way where you and your fathers are both soldiers in different time periods.

What’s your favorite fatherhood story in a video game? Tell us in the comments!


*Of course because you’re a video game nerd, you know that Donkey Kong Jr. is actually Donkey Kong and Cranky Kong is the original Donkey Kong of actual old-school Donkey Kong fame. But as to not bog down the reader, we, you know, couldn’t say all of this in the intro.