Who’s your Daddy? In video games, YOU are…


A friend linked me to this great article about “The Daddening of Video Games” by Stephen Totilo at kotaku.com, and it got me pondering the daddy issues (in the case of Bioshock 2, BIG Daddy issues) prevalent in culture. A while back I blogged on the emerging Daddy trend in movies and — as if there was any doubt — the Daddy-centric film Taken with Liam Neeson came out soon after and put that bullet dead center. It seems the equally cinematic video game industry is following suit:

“Being a dad, however, is becoming nearly as popular in video games as health bars and shotguns… we are now experiencing a period of video game history that high school text books will look back upon as ‘The Daddening of Video Games.”

Totillo waxes philosophical on what and why this phenomenon may be rising in the video game marketplace:

“Maybe being a dad is the rage. Maybe it’s in vogue, like being a bald space Marine in games used to be… I’ve found in these recent games, being a video game dad is an effective method for getting the player to feel something… the unconditional love a father will hopefully feel for their child can, in a video game, intensify the feelings of panic or tragedy or desperation that the disastrous settings for so many games already call for.”

Even the comments that follow the article provide variant speculation on all the reasons this may be surfacing, including:

  1. gamers tired of simply saving “items” or carbon-copy love interests
  2. average gamer age trending upward to age of parenthood
  3. helpless adult = annoying, helpless child = understandable
  4. game leverages natural protective instinct for progeny to achieve instant tension

A fifth allure, however, is creating an opportunity to BE the parents some players never HAD, as we can see in one commenter:

“It’s always nice to see parents in games actually being parents… as a woman who is generally very grateful that she didn’t have to grow up in the same household with her father (given the nature of who he is), they don’t do much for me personally. My S.O. also grew up without his father and feels this loss acutely, though… so I definitely understand that the father relationship can be very important.”

Culturally, I think it’s important to know and speak to and through this phenomenon, whether it’s at the theater or on our Playstation; our modern narrative is illustrating not only social changes and attitudes we’d love to see, but a longing for father that transcends games, cinema, and even mere biology. Fatherhood is not just in our blood, but on our soul.

Read the full kotaku article (and thanks for the link, Michael!)

  1. Zach M

    Totilo is definitely my favorite games journalist out there. Very insightful. Heavy Rain, by the way, has got to be the most dad-heavy game I’ve ever seen.

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