One kind of person has become much more popular subject in games as of late. I'm talking about the dad. He's strong, bold, epic, loving, and protective. Virtual dads have all the traits we love in our real fathers, while giving just a little bit of that extra oomph only fictional folks can provide. But what about the video game moms? We all know the stereotypes. They're either dead or gone. There are plenty of badass ladies in video games, so why can't some of them also shoulder the responsibilities of motherhood?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there aren't any epic mamas in the video game world. Off the top of my head, recent additions include Freya from God of War, Ana from Overwatch, and Haruka Sawamura from Yakuza 6. But the fact remains that enviable dads are more the norm in the industry. While I can list those that are strong, independent madres, there are even more that just don't give off a powerful vibe. There's the mom in Animal Crossing! Except she's absent, and only referenced to in letters. What about Lucca's mother in Chrono Trigger? Oh... oh, no. What about Atreus' mom in God of War? She's gone too. Even Haruka can fall under this category, because even though she did a lot for her son, she also is in the hospital when Yakuza 6 begins.
When you think of video game dads, there are a lot of really great examples that have made it big in the mainstream. There's Lee Everett from Telltale's The Walking Dead. He didn't choose to be a father, but he'll be darned if you're going to do anything to hurt Clementine! Same with Joel in The Last of Us. He wants nothing to do with Ellie in the beginning, but he makes for a very protective, good dad by the end. God of War (2018) marks the beginnings of Kratos' journey into fatherhood, where he stumbles at times, but tries his hardest either way. There's even Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, which had players seeking to romance a suitable step-dad for their daughter.
Real life moms work just as hard as real life dads, so shouldn't they be allowed their time to shine in the video game spotlight? I'm not suggesting we give Lara Croft a daughter or a son out of nowhere; that would probably just feel forced, and maybe even awkward. What we can do is introduce the character of the present, powerful, and protective mother. Just like Kratos teaches his son the way of the world, his mother could have been alive to do the same. Just like Lee, and Joel protect Clementine and Ellie, so could an adoptive mom. The protective mama bear stereotype exists for a reason people.
The only concern I have with video games including more moms it going to the extreme. Instead of dead or runaway mothers, we might fall into the other matron stereotype, where a woman lives only to take care of and protect her offspring. These characters can be multifaceted and not just “the mother.” Lee was a murderer before the apocalypse; he killed his wife's lover. Any adoptive mother for Clementine could have had an equally shady past. Say she escaped prison for killing a husbands lover, or maybe she was in prison for holding up a gas station just for the fun of it.
Video game moms suffer from a whole slew of stereotypes that should be abandoned. But let us be careful not to throw them into a totally different pit. Dads are admirable, strong, tough, protective, and caring. Moms can be all this and more too.
Can you think of a video game mother whose portrayal you really liked? Let me know who she was in the comments!
Image Credit: Alexandria Neonakis