Bad dads of gaming

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.

30 thoughts on “Bad dads of gaming

    1. Confession: I’ve not actually played any of the God of War games and so Nathan helped me out with the Kratos entry! He reckons he’s going to train me so my hand-eye coordination becomes good enough to be able to play them… I reckon he’s going to fail miserably. 😉

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            1. Yeah, I seem to remember Ben writing something about the redesign a while back and saying it got more hate then it deserved. I might just take a look and see if my terrible coordination can stand up to it.

              Liked by 1 person

  1. Can I put a vote in for William Birkin from Resident Evil 2. Works late at the lab all the time, injects himself with G-virus, and then hunts down his daughter to try and implant some kind of parasite into her… Not going to get those ‘best dad ever’ socks if you ask me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh good choice – when I was drafting the list for this post, William was on it but unfortunately didn’t make the final cut. Maybe he did all that because he got the socks and would have preferred the mug?

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  2. Bowser’s a lousy fake dad to the Koopalings but he’s a pretty legit real dad to his son Bowser Jr. He’s very careful to make sure the little guy doesn’t spend too much time playing video games, and they bond over fun hobbies like kidnapping a young woman or trying to brutally murder an Italian plumber.

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  3. So. This is going to be embarrassing.

    I’ve played Bioshock through twice. I enjoyed it both times.

    I never realised that Andrew Ryan and Jack Ryan were related.

    I’ll hand in my gamer badge before I leave. Goodbye all.

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  4. Also professor hojo from final fantasy 7. If it wasn’t for him sephiroth wouldn’t have gone insane and nearly caused the end of the world.

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  5. …. I was wondering if you’re familiar with BlazBlue and Relius Clover? Because that guy is top contender for ‘Worst Dad’… Contact me again if you wanna know how much of a horrendous dad he is.

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    1. I haven’t played anything in the BlazBlue series, so thank you for pointing this out! Care to share why Relius should be included on the list? 😉

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      1. Hmmm, so you haven’t played BlazBlue series? Oh very well, this is going to take kind of long.

        All right, so, Relius is a genius scientist with complete lack of empathy, everything he does is in the name of science and satiating his curiosity, everything is a specimen to him. Due to time travel shenanigans and such, he ended up marrying and having a family, but eventually, he turned his wife and his daughter (with their consents, or so they said) into automatons/robots/marionettes that felt ‘lifeless’ and only anchoring their soul, and again, he only considered it ‘for science’. His youngest son, Carl Clover, became traumatized about it and became a cold hearted kid as a result, hating him, but Relius is just pretty ‘meh’ about it, and only says that Carl is just an amateur in finding out the secrets of the universe. Oh and Relius just left him alone (with his daughter/marionette, Carl’s big sis) to become a vigilante, while Relius… is hatching another plan that may shake the world, with his wife/marionette in tow, where he controls her like a puppet.

        Yep, a dad that is that callous and doesn’t even consider his family members as anything but specimens. ‘Best dad of the century’. I don’t think even my words can explain to a good details how much of a ‘evil dad’ Relius is…

        Well, there you go! I hope it satisfies you. What do you think?

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        1. I think I missed out on a great entry for the ‘bad dads’ list ha ha ha! What is it about people in fighting games that makes them such terrible fathers? 😉

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            1. Yeah, Relius Clover and Heihachi Mishima could indeed be in the minority. But there’s something about fighting tournaments that doesn’t seem to be conducive to parenthood: your kids usually end up following in your footsteps and then kick your butt for your wrongdoings!

              I think I’m going to have to do a follow-up post at some point, bad mums of gaming. Watch this space.

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