4 Great Dads in Gaming
Disclaimer: May contain minor spoilers for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Mass Effect: Andromeda, The Batman: Arkham franchise, and Fallout 4
It’s that special day of the year we all set apart to celebrate dads. Some of our favorite dads wear jean shorts and taught us how to swear, and some of our very favorite dads are in video games. Yes, just like we did in May for moms, we’re going to share the four great dads of gaming and what makes them so damn special. So, grab your favorite grilling utensils and let’s count ‘em down.
- Edward Kenway – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
This popular entry into the massive Assassin’s Creed franchise was the first game to appear on current gen consoles, and resonated with gamers and critics alike. Players spend much of Black Flag swinging, stabbing, and shooting their way through the Caribbean and being double crossed by filthy pirates. The focus of this game is Edward Kenway, a rough and tumble pirate captain with a penchant for drinks and riches. A touching finale and epilogue reveals that Edward’s estranged wife back in England has been raising a daughter he never knew he had. The real shock here is that the kid comes from his wife, and not the many world-renown prostitutes of the Caribbean in the 18th century Edward has no doubt known biblically.
So, what makes this scalawag a great dad? He tried his best to give his children the life he never had. His years of pillaging plantations and treasure fleets culminated in the achievement of his lifelong dream to become a respectable man of leisure. His son, Haytham, grew into the consummate gentleman. Granted, in Assassin’s Creed III Haytham is a dickhead who engages in a fight to the death with his own son, but he does so in a very classy way. Every Dad wants their children to have a happy life, to go beyond the boundaries of their own achievements and leave a lasting impact on the world. Edward went from impoverished drunk to drunken pirate to respectable man-about-town-who-drinks-a-lot, and he tried to make sure his children never had to struggle like he did. Yo-ho, Captain Kenway, three cheers for a good captain and a great dad.
- Alec Ryder – Mass Effect: Andromeda
Mass Effect: Andromeda wasn’t quite the smash hit some of us wanted, but it was a welcome return to a beloved franchise. Players are put in the shoes of one of the Ryder twins, the first name is entirely up to you. This of course led to a series of unfortunately named protagonists like “Richard,” “Mustache,” or “Clown.” The Ryder twins father, Alec, is an ass kicker of intergalactic renown who sacrifices his life for yours by giving you his helmet when yours cracks due to a rather dangerous tumble off an alien monolith. It’s kind of sad.
Alec Ryder doesn’t hesitate. His son or daughter is gasping for air, and he doesn’t hesitate to give him or her his own helmet. Sacrifice is a hard thing to imagine, because the vast majority of us will never know how much we would give for the safety or happiness of another person. But every Dad knows in his heart exactly what they would give for his children. Everything. Alec Ryder did, and that’s what puts him on this list. Thank god piss poor facial animations aren’t in the criteria for good dads.
- Batman – the Arkham franchise
Batman is an expansive series that has endured through 75 years of incredible success and miserable failures. The staying power of the Caped Crusader is due entirely to his malleability – his character is just as magnetic whether he’s a Victorian detective, a children’s cartoon, or the gritty Batfleck. In April of 1940 Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne took on the hardest fight of his life, becoming father to young, recently orphaned Dick Grayson. Or, as we all know and love him – Robin.
Bruce Wayne eventually becomes father to other children, some metaphorically others literally, including Jason Todd (The Red Hood), Tim Drake (Robin), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle), and Damian Wayne, among others. For all his children, we see Batman try to prepare them for a harsh world and to give them purpose in the pursuit of justice. In the Arkham franchise we see Batman interact most with Dick Grayson, now fully grown and on his own under the moniker Nightwing, and Tim Drake’s Robin. The interactions Batman has with Dick Grayson are touching, paternal, and sometimes humorous. One of the most dramatic moments in the story is when Batman decides not to tell Tim Drake that Barbara Gordon has been taken by Scarecrow. Batman doesn’t share the news with Tim. Maybe he just wants Robin focused, maybe he doesn’t want him to feel that pain, but that dilemma is truly engaging, and fueled by the father/son nature of Tim and Bruce’s relationship.
- Nate – Fallout 4
Fallout 3 was the first game in the franchise after Bethesda took over the property in the 21st century. That game and its recent sequel, Fallout 4, deal heavily in themes of fatherhood. In May, we took a moment to appreciate Fallout 3’s mom, and this month we’re looking at the male player character from Fallout 4. His default name in the character creator is Nate, so for sake of brevity that’s what we’ll call him too. We meet Nate in an idyllic American home life in an alternate future where the U.S. is engaged in World War III against China and everyone has a robot butler. Also, everything looks like I Love Lucy and The Twilight Zone had a baby.
Soon nuclear war arrives, as it does, and Nate, his wife, and their infant son Shaun flee to an underground bunker. The couple are cryogenically frozen for decades until a shadowy organization, known as The Institute, kidnaps Sean, shoots Nate’s wife, and leaves Nate a meat popsicle for an unknown amount of time. When Nate is finally released from his icy prison, he arms up, gets a dog, and tracks his son down even into the hellish Glowing Sea or deep into the belly of the Institute’s underground lair. He goes to the ends of the Earth for his son, and he never hesitates. That’s what father’s do.
Typically, when I talk about RPG characters, I like to say the player instead of a generic name, because every player has a unique ownership of the story. But I know that you would be a super shitty dad, because I was too. I got distracted on my hunt for my son with helping a radio D.J. get laid, building a hospital, spending two days of my life on the Benevolent Leader trophy, and just kind of goofing around in the wasteland. If this happened in Taken, Liam Neeson’s daughter would have ended up being a slave. Not cool guys. But, without our interference, I think Nate makes a pretty kick-ass dad.
Happy Father’s Day! Most great dads aren’t pirates, spacemen, Batmen, or wasteland warriors, but they’re always there for us in their own way, and today is the perfect excuse to say thank you for everything they do.
Tell us what you think! Who are some of your favorite gaming dads? Is your dad a gaming dad? Could my dad beat your dad in a fight? Trick question! He totally could! Let Handsome Phantom know your thoughts and you could get a shout out on Adventure Mode!
Kevin Lukacs is a historian, writer, occasional playwright, and a total console pleb. Find him on Twitter @kclukacs
Author: Kevin Lukacs
Kevin enjoys writing plays, short stories, comedy, history, and of course opinion pieces and listicles about video games. His dad could totally beat up your dad. You can find him in DC getting his M.A. in history, should you ever feel the need to fight about weebs and whether or not Knights of the Old Republic is the best game ever made.