It’s Father’s Day on Sunday here in the UK, a weekend to spend some time with our dear old dads and show them a little appreciation. It’s my own dad’s birthday today too so it’s going to be a double-celebration – along with good excuses to eat plenty of cake.
Fathers are easy to find within video games: when they’re not upsetting their kids or being murdered during the first cutscene, they often serve as the protagonist’s major motivation or source of encouragement. Exploring twisted personalities is usually far more interesting than looking at nicer characters though and that’s why I’ve been investigating the worst dads in gaming. If you think your father is bad for his poor jokes and lame dancing, he’s got nothing on the guys on this list.
Warning: minor some spoilers (and exaggerations) are included below so if you haven’t played a title, you may wish to skip forward to the next entry.
Kratos from God of War
Kratos may have gone on an epic quest to save his beloved daughter, but he really let himself down when he subsequently slaughtered both her and his wife. He might have been tricked into doing by it by Ares but it doesn’t earn him a ‘World’s Best Dad’ mug on Father’s Day. If he’d spent more time at home with his family rather than running off and being a power-hungry warrior under the influence of the God of War, maybe things could have been different.
Thanks to Nathan for helping me out with this one!
Philip Holmes from Beyond: Two Souls
He may not be a murderer like most of the fathers in this list but when it comes to being heartless, Philip Holmes takes the gold medal. Not only does he take young adopted daughter Jodie to a research facility and tell her it’s for the best if she’s left there, he then moans as his wife when she tries to say a proper goodbye. The caring-dad façade drops even further when he calls Jodie ‘evil’ and a ‘monster’ when Aiden retaliates – you’re one cold man, Mr Holmes.
Heihachi Mishima from Tekken
A lot of dads want to prepare their sons for the future, but it’s not many who decide they should be able to survive being kicked off a cliff. Heihachi Mishima was one however and it turned out he was right; young Kazuya lived through the ordeal (although he ended up growing up with plenty of deep-rooted daddy-issues). Add to that Heihachi’s performing of experiments on his grandson and shooting him into space, and you’ve got a pure example of horrific multi-generational abuse. Simply shocking.
Thanks to Tim for helping me out with this one!
Bowser from Super Mario Bros.
The Koopalings were originally introduced as ‘Bowser’s seven kids’ in the instruction manual for Super Mario Bros. 3 but then in 2012, it was confirmed they aren’t actually his children. As if living through that drama and not knowing your true lineage wasn’t traumatic enough, the kids have faced years of bulling and being made to go up against the King Koopa’s mortal enemy. Someone who steadfastly believes that kidnapping a princess is key part of any plan clearly isn’t going to make a great father figure.
Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid
Fatherhood and a liking for world domination are never going to be a great mix. Through a genetic engineering program called Les Enfants Terribles, Big Boss fathered three sons before proceeding to try and kill them in a variety of daft battles. When one of your kids creates a terrorist group named Sons of Big Boss, whose members have received gene therapy in order to mimic your traits, you need to take a step back and seriously consider your life choices.
Andrew Ryan from BioShock
Let’s face it: Jack didn’t have a good start in life. During his journey through the underwater city of Rapture, he discovers he’s the result of a fling with an exotic dancer who was murdered by his father in a fit of rage when he found out she’d sold the embryo to his arch-nemesis. Jack gets exactly what he wants when he finally confronts Andrew Ryan during a nice round of golf – but in doing so, proves he’s as much of a disappointment as his dear old dad claimed he was.
Ethan Mars from Heavy Rain
All parents make mistakes and have been distracted at times but Ethan Mars seems to have a real problem with keeping his kids by his side in crowded environments. Youngest son Jason wanders off while his dad looks for change to buy a balloon, which results in him dying after he’s hit by a car; and other son Shaauuunnnn is kidnapped by the Origami Killer when Ethan falls asleep on a bench at the park. He then becomes more interested in getting it on with a hot reporter than rescuing his own child – how irresponsible is that.
James from Fallout 3
James believes in a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do kind of parenting. He tells you to stay inside the vault but doesn’t lead by example, fleeing to the surface without you; and it’s only when you escape after him that you realise he hasn’t prepared you for anything at all. When you finally catch up with James, he expresses his disappointment if you’ve recently nuked an entire town. But did he ever stop to think that if he hadn’t disappeared, you wouldn’t have felt the need to unleash hell? No, he didn’t.
You in Fable II
Congratulations, you’re a dad! But not necessarily a good one. After getting married and having a child, you can choose to shirk your new-found responsibilities by heeding the call of bouncing experience orbs and venturing out into the world once more. You could have stuck around at home and cycled through the expressions wheel with the wife, but no: you decided you’d rather go for The Party Animal achievement and get everyone in the inn drunk. How very irresponsible.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.