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Veteran Member - Level 11
Gamers are a unique lot. It's easy for non-gamers to collectively
call us all gamers, but really we're very different. Some of us like shooters
and some of us like role playing games. Within those genres we're equally distinctive
too. In our shooters, some of us prefer stealthy tactics while some of us take
a more Rambo'esque approach. In role playing games some of us are fighters
relying on brute strength while wielding sword and shield while the magic users
rely on wisdom, intellect and mystical ability. But if there is one thing we
all share as gamers, it's the fact we have/had a mother at some point in our
life. Regardless of whether you're best friends with your mom or the complete
opposite, we all went through the same process to get to where we are today.
And today is the day that recognizes and/or celebrates that fact. Personally, I'm
not all that close with my mom, but I still pause on this day and recognize the
significance of the gift of life I was given by my mother.
Now, to apply a video game flavor to the topic of mother's
day...I thought I'd share my thoughts on perhaps one of the most ill-treated
non-player character types we see in our games. I say non-player character for
the simple fact that playing a mom or motherly figure in a video game is not
all that common. In fact, I can't think of a game that I've ever played where I
took on this role. I did a few quick Google searches just to see if I was
missing something glaringly obvious - I read a few top female video game
character lists and didn't see any entries that screamed they were moms. I don't
think Lara Croft or Elena Fisher ever mentioned having a few rugrats at home
while they were off gallivanting around the globe.
No. Let's be honest...
When do we see mom's in video games.
Well, when we do...it's usually not very pretty.
Oh sure...there are games like Heavy Rain where there is a mom
character. I'm only a few hours into the game, but I can tell you the mom (my
in game wife, mother of my children) gets on my nerves. If you play the game, its
short lived...because she ends up leaving you, heh heh. I'm not quite sure what
will happen by the end of the game, but for the time...I'm kind of relieved she's
not there harping on me when I don't do the things she's asked me to do.
But that game is kind of the rare exception...
Usually mom characters are used as the catalyst to motivate
the hero male character into action, and as unfortunate as it is...it's usually
because they are *ahem* killed. This spurns the hero to seek revenge or
motivates them in a certain direction.
For example, the Punisher...my favorite comic book series, one
of the original comic book to movie crossovers and inspiration for a few video
games...stars Frank Castle as the Punisher.
The Punisher is a
vigilante who employs murder, kidnapping, extortion, coercion, threats of
violence, and torture in his war on crime. Driven by the deaths of his wife and
two children, who were killed by the mob when they witnessed a gangland
execution in New York City's Central Park, the Punisher wages a one-man war on
the mob and all criminals in general by using all manner of conventional war
weaponry. His family's killers were the first to be slain. A war veteran,
Castle is a master of martial arts, stealth tactics, guerrilla warfare, and a
wide variety of weapons.
This formula has been used in some rather popular and fairly
I vaguely recall the original Max Payne, but I'll never
forget that chilling scene where Max's family is killed. It's perhaps one of
the most grisly scenes I've experienced from a video game.
Back on August 22,
1998, Max returned home to find that a trio of apparent junkies had broken into
his house while high on a new designer drug called Valkyr. Max rushed to aid
his family, but was too late and his wife and their newborn daughter had
already been brutally murdered. After his family's funeral, Payne transferred
to the DEA.
What that description fails to mention, and what words can
only describe but don't convey the same grisly tone...is when Max returns home
you hear his infant crying, then something like a shotgun blast followed by
silence. It was a gripping turn of events.
Then of course there's everybody's favorite outlaw turned
good guy - John Marston, the star of Rockstar's open world Wild West action game.
We're told John's wife Abigail dies from unknown causes a few years after the
climatic ending of Red Dead Redemption, but we do know Abigail and their son
Jack were used to coerce John Marston into doing dastardly things.
In 1911, John Marston,
a retired outlaw formerly of a gang led by Dutch van der Linde, is taken away
from his wife Abigail and his son Jack by the government. Government agents
then tell Marston that he will be returned to his family if he kills the
remaining lead members of his old gang. Marston agrees, then travels to the
territory of New Austin to kill one of his old friends...
A man will do unimaginable things to protect his family, and
John Marston certainly proves this.
Blessed Are The Peacemakers
Another one of the most gripping stories featuring a motherly
non-player character has to be the tale of Dominic Santiago, one of the big
names of the Gears of War series. Unless you've played the game, it's hard to
summarize the totality of this story thread, but it is certainly one that pulls
on the heart strings.
Dominic Santiago is
the deuteragonist. He is a veteran soldier, first introduced in the original
Gears of War as a second playable character. He is close friends with Marcus,
his longtime comrade. Like Marcus, he is a seasoned veteran with a strong sense
for family, and often thinks of his wife Maria, whom he attempts to locate in
Gears of War 2. They lost their two children, Sylvia and Benedicto, on E-day,
and, four years later, when that day's trauma became too much, Maria
disappeared. He finds his wife eleven years later, imprisoned by the Locust. He
euthanizes her because she has been tortured and traumatized beyond recovery.
No doubt his story sets the tone and foreshadows his fate,
which was somewhat predictable but still a shock when it finally happens.
Now, the final motherly character I'm going to mention
contradicts the rest...and isn't entirely a motherly type character. But it is
one that I thought had some motherly inflection...or perhaps, evil stepmother
In Portal and Portal 2, GLaDOS starts out as a warm and
welcoming voice that leads you through a series of test chambers; a sort of
motherly influence in a world of mystery and intrigue. By the end of the series
she clearly becomes evil, and not just by her actions, but also the vile thing
she says to you in an effort to break your mental and emotional state of mind.
GLaDOS, short for
Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, is a fictional artificially
intelligent computer system in Valve Software's Half-Life video game series and
the main antagonist in the video games Portal and Portal 2. She is responsible
for testing and maintenance in Aperture Science research facility in both video
games. While she initially appears to simply be a voice to guide and aid the
player, her words and actions become increasingly malicious until she makes her
There are a few times GLaDOS mentions your parents...and even
simulates calling them on the phone at one point.
GLaDOS: Well done. Here are the test results: You
are a horrible person. I'm serious, that's what it says: "A horrible
person." We weren't even testing for that. Don't let that horrible-person
thing discourage you. It's just a data point. If it makes you feel any better,
science has now validated your birth mother's decision to abandon you on a
I'm sure there are other examples, and perhaps you know them
and want to comment and share them. I would encourage you to do that. There are
a few female gamers that I am aware of that hang around the Game Informer community,
but the only one that I know for sure is a mother, is our very own Oni no
So, to Oni no Tenshi, those of you who are mothers that I
might not know...to my own family and to all the video game mother characters out
there who paid the price to breathe life into our video games...
Have a Happy Mother's Day!