Fathers of Gaming
Today is Father’s Day in many nations around the world. Love ’em or hate ’em, fathers make us who we are, and in gaming it’s no different. Protecting their loved ones in dire situations, providing support, or just beating up their kids over mistakes long past, these fathers can be the heroes and villains in our protagonist’s story.
Eli Vance (Half-Life series)
Father of your partner in crime throughout the Half-Life 2 games, Alyx Vance. Eli played a supporting role throughout the games, but as a father to Alyx he was a strong figure in her life, caring and supportive of his daughter. He also built her Dog, which as far as great things a dad can do is pretty high up there.
Tragically, their relationship is cut short at the end of Half-Life: Episode 2, but is likely to shape what is to come in the Half-Life series.
Jecht (Final Fantasy X)
Probably a pretty bad choice for this list. One of the main antagonists in Final Fantasy X, Jecht left his son Tidus with massive insecurity issues through constantly berating his son’s skill and constant crying. Eventually, Jecht was assumed lost to the sea, still leaving an overbearing shadow on Tidus both emotionally and as a top blitzball player. However, as the player sees through the “Jecht Spheres” left around the game world, Jecht came to mature alongside Braska and Auron as a father, and eventually managed to reconcile with his son. Unfortunately, this reconciliation was a little bit late as at that point he had become a major part of Sin.
PLAYER CAST FIRAGA AND TIDUS IS FEELING THE BUURRNNNN pic.twitter.com/guCWJFihjp
— Irene Koh (@_PromKnight) June 11, 2014
Joel (The Last of Us)
Among the tragedy, horror and suffering of The Last of Us’ apocalyptic setting it is the relationship between Joel and Ellie that serves as its focus. Bereft of his own daughter, following the initial chaos of the cordyceps outbreak, Joel gradually becomes a father figure to Ellie, the young girl he is charged with escorting across the US, many years later.
Like a true father during an apocalypse he makes sure Ellie learns all the necessary skills to survive and it all pays off when she manages to see them through the harsh winter after Joel is critically injured. The bond becomes so strong that Joel sees no other option when that harrowing final act comes…
Ethan Mars (Heavy Rain)
Sure, he managed to ‘misplace’ two sons on two separate occasions, and, yes, he does have plot-convenient blackouts, but this is a father who will do whatever it takes to save his son.
Or maybe he won’t. I don’t know. That’s down to you. Nice work, pops.
Haytham Kenway (Assassin’s Creed III)
With an air of the Skywalkers about it, it transpires that Haytham is the leader of the Templars in the Colonies while his own son, whose existence he had not been aware of before, was raised as part of the Assassin Order.
This was presented memorably as players spent many hours in Haytham’s boots, learning the lie of the land and going about business and building a brotherhood, much like an Assassin might, only for the truth to out itself when Kenway Senior inducted his own protege, Charles Lee, into none other than the Templars.
And while not clearly presented in the game, Haytham had, on occasion, placed Connor’s survival over the wishes of his Templar brothers; even discovering the lies behind his own induction into the organisation many years later. Of course, this is all revealed in a journal (published as a tie-in novel) rather than the game itself, so… nice work.
Still, hints were there. Haytham was a charming and still somewhat merciful man, who often found himself at odds with the Templar’s methods, if not their ultimate goal. Nor is Haytham the real antagonist; that’s Charles Lee and, ultimately, the treatment of Native Americans, who suffered at everyone’s hands. It’s perhaps the first time in the series where players are encouraged to consider the larger ramifications of the Templar/Assassin conflict outside of tying their perspective to a lead character.
Also, who doesn’t want a sequence where your father ‘back-seat drives’ your own ship as you pursue a shared quarry?
The Mishimas (Tekken series)
Rather than a reality series that follows this dysfunctional family (although, wouldn’t that be a show!), this is a twofer. I’m not up to date on my Tekken lore, but I do recall the Mishima family featuring two deadbeat dads. Though, I suspect by now that Jin has probably sired another bloodthirsty future tyrant.
Either way, the Mishima family history is a string of father-son betrayals, deaths and resurrections, devils and… more devils. Evil Bastard Supreme, Heihachi, killed his own father and even threw his five-year-old son off a cliff as a ‘test’. And that’s only the beginning.
You have to hand it to them, though, these guys know how to put on a good tournament.