I’m not a father. I’ve checked. In fact, I ask Marissa about twice a day in varying states of panic whether or not I’m a daddy. Thus far the answer has been a resounding and merciful “no” followed by an “and stop asking me that!” But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate one of this year’s trends in gaming — portrayals of father / child relationships. In most cases it is a portrayal of a father / daughter relationship.
I’m thinking of two of the most critically acclaimed games of the last couple of years — The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. I haven’t played Shadows of Mordor, but despite some of the strange overarching themes, Mike “Gabe” Krahulik of Penny Arcade fame wrote this post on it’s fatherly moments.
When I was a kid / teenager, games tended to focus on these simple hero fantasies with a touch of romance. I grew up with the love stories of Mario and Princess Peach, Link and Zelda, Pacman and food. As a child, that’s what I wanted. To be a hero and save some hottie who would then kiss me on the cheek and leave forever. As a teenager I started to be ok with the idea of her sticking around.
But all that was a long time ago. My fantasies of being a hero have died down a bit. I find it less compelling. Not to say I don’t like heroes or the idea of being a hero. I still read comic books, watch Superhero movies, play videogames as an “ordinary” hero that is going to save the world / galaxy / universe. I even dabble in some light romance.
However, I already have that romance in my life. I got married to a beautiful girl who is not quite royalty, but is still very cool. Tonight, I’m going to fix her dinner and we’re going to eat together holding hands across the table. I no longer need that in videogames (or movies, for that matter.)
What I do find compelling, suddenly and quite strangely, is the idea of having this oddly protective and nurturing relationship. Then it occurred to me, I’m of that age now. A lot of my friends are fathers. The “videogame generation” is now out of college, married, and having kids. Of course videogames would reflect that. Like all good art, good videogames will reflect something about the people that play them and that make them.
We’re all growing up, and so are videogames.