Father’s Day, being right around the corner, reminded me of some of the most and least paternal characters presented in video games. Whether they’re role models, deadbeats, or something in between, I enjoy interacting with all of the characters that came to mind.
My personal favorite video game father is Ethan Mars from the 2010 blockbuster Heavy Rain. The game centers on Ethan’s desperation to save his son, Shaun, from the Origami Killer. In order to rescue Shaun, Ethan drives against traffic on a freeway, crawls through a tunnel of broken glass, cuts off a piece of his own finger, and drinks a bottle of poison. If Ethan isn’t “Father of the Year” material after all that, I don’t know who is!
One of the most classic video game dads has to be Nintendo’s Donkey Kong. He and his son, DK Jr., have a close relationship. The young ape sets out to rescue his papa from the evil clutches of Mario in the 1982 arcade game Donkey Kong, Jr. Additionally, in the GameBoy remake of the classic Donkey Kong arcade game, DK Jr. teams up with his father to imprison Lady Pauline and battle Mario. In the midst of all these quests, Donkey Kong emphasizes the importance of academic endeavors, too—check out the Donkey Kong Jr. Math game. This is one father/son relationship you should beat your chest about!
Unfortunately, not all fathers in video games possess close relationships with their virtual children. In the Castlevania series of games, Dracula constantly struggles with his son, Adrian Fahrenheit Tepes, better known as Alucard. As a dhampir, half-human and half-vampire, Alucard often chooses to fight alongside the Belmont family of vampire hunters rather than side with Dracula. In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Alucard becomes the main character and directly battles Dracula, who wants to destroy the entire human race as punishment for killing his son’s mother, Lisa. Father and son come to an understanding at the end, as Alucard convinces Dracula to forgive humanity and heed Lisa’s last wish to love all. Despite this, players don’t expect a lot of blood bonding for this duo.
Even video game fathers who try their best make mistakes. Katamari’s King of all Cosmos is one of them. Sometimes he comes across as clearly negligent. The King parties too hard one night, muddles with the universe, and sends his poor son to clean up the mess. Considering that the Prince never complains about his task, a player might assume that, if nothing else, the King taught his son a strong sense of duty. The King also shows some signs of accountability for his actions; he often pops up offering tips and tricks for the Prince, showing him how to roll the katamari in the most efficient manner and demonstrating how to collect the most objects in the shortest amount of time.
A video game father of special note is Dr. Thomas Light from the Mega Man series. Dr. Light creates Mega Man, a super robot. Despite outfitting Mega Man with state-of-the-art weapons, Dr. Light maintains a pacifist position; he discourages his children from unwarranted aggression. He imbues Mega Man with a sense of morality and duty, and Dr. Light expresses pride at his son’s accomplishments. Though Mega Man embodies a collection of metal and circuitry, Dr. Light loves him as well as any father could love a son.
If I missed your favorite virtual paternal figure, please let me know. Meanwhile, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!