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Today is a day notorious for ugly ties and breakfast in bed that
consists of burnt toast and soggy cereal; it's a day where mom strong arms the kids
into putting their video game controllers down long enough to storm the bedroom,
wish dad a Happy Father's Day by jumping on him while he tries to sleep (and
inevitably landing on his crotch) before quietly disappearing from the room and
reemerging behind their video game with the stealth of an experienced ninja. This
may or may not describe one of your personal experiences, either as the father,
or the kid wishing dear old dad a Happy Father's day. Regardless, to all the
dads out there, I hope you enjoy this day set aside to recognize your role in
the child raising effort. Dads, we all had/have one, and whether you're close
to yours or not (or even know yours or not), most of us have had some sort of
fatherly influence in our life that's contributed to who we are.
You may recall (or
not) that a few weeks ago for Mother's Day I published a piece titled, Recognizing
The Unfair Role Mothers Have In Video Games, (read it here
if you want) that discussed how mothers aren't very popular characters in video
games, and when they are present, it usually doesn't end well for them. Fathers
on the other hand, are a somewhat frequent and popular character type to use.
Now, I suppose in theory I can just copy all the characters from that blog and
instead of focusing on the mom's role, I could use the dad's...but where's the
fun in that?
In that blog, I took a look at Max Payne, Red Dead Redemption,
Gears of War, and Portal 2, so I won't be discussing those games. I did briefly
mentioned Heavy Rain, which I will discuss further in this blog.
We've seen the story dozens of times where a father is
pushed to his limits because of some injustice directed towards his child or children.
In the 1989 novel A Time To Kill by
the ever popular author John Grisham or the movie adaptation starring Samuel L.
Jackson and Matthew McConaughey, we see a very angry father exact revenge on
the two men who sexually assaulted his daughter
Just as popular is the plot line where the father's identity
is originally unknown and throughout the course of the story the revelation is
that defining jaw dropping moment of the story. If you know me well enough, then you know I'm referring to that epic moment in Empire Strikes
Back when Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker that he is his father (although certainly not the only movie to have a surprise twist of that nature).
Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
Darth Vader: No.
I am your father.
No... that's not true! That's impossible!
Some of our video games have modeled similar stories and
rely on the father figure as a premise for the overall story. Now, I'm not
going to create a list of video game fathers as you can find plenty of those
around the Internet. I'm simply going to share just a few games revolving
around fathers that are memorable to me. I can't think of a game that focuses
more on the father than Heavy Rain.
Ethan Mars is trying
to save his son from being the next victim, while investigative journalist
Madison Paige, FBI profiler Norman Jayden, and private detective Scott Shelby
are each trying to track down clues to the Origami Killer's identity. The
player interacts with the game by performing actions highlighted on screen
related to motions on the controller, and in some cases, performing a series of
quick time events during fast-paced action sequences.
Admittedly, I've only scratched the surface of the game but
I will say the introduction to the game is perhaps one of the most powerful
moments I've ever experienced from any game. For a father, it can be a truly moving
experience. Without revealing too much, I'll only say imagine being in a mall
and losing one of your kids and the frantic search that ensues, until you
finally locate your missing child. Later in the game, you actually take on a
more active fatherly role by directing your kid to brush their teeth, do their homework and
go to bed. It's a harrowing experience. It might not sound like it, heh heh...but
if / when you play the game, you'll see exactly what I mean.
(I'm going to reveal some info on Half Life and Splinter
Cell, so read at your own risk)
Speaking of emotionally charged scenes involving dads and
video games, an equally moving scene was the death of Dr. Eli Vance in Half
Life 2 Episode 2. If you know your Half Life history, you'll recognize him as
Alyx Vance's father, and an instrumental figure in the resistance movement
against the Combine. He helps Gordon Freeman along the way and was also the first
human being to make peaceful contact with the Vortigaunt species. Suffering the
scars of battle, he wears a prosthetic to
replace his left leg beneath the knee, which was lost when he was attacked by a
Bullsquid while helping Dr. Isaac Kleiner climb over a wall into a Combine
city. Interesting enough, this prosthetic makes reference to the
"advanced knee replacement" Chell received in Portal. Eli Vance works
at the White Forest base before being killed by a Combine Advisor. Many have
admitted this scene moved them to tears, and while I don't recall actually
shedding a tear over the moment, I do recall being emotionally moved as the
whole scene transpired.
Another game that had a memorable impact on me was the
Splinter Cell series.
You learn early on in the Splinter Cell series that Sam
Fisher is a father. Even though this fact doesn't play a critical role in the
story until later in the series, it's still a key bit of information as it
reveals the depth of the character and reveals a very human and sensitive side
of this special agent capable of killing with his bare hands...almost prefers
killing with his bare hands.
In the first game of the series, it concludes with...
With the threat of a
major war averted, the United States begins to recover from the crisis, with
the President declaring that a new era of peace has emerged. The corpse of
Nikoladze is recovered and sparks international backlash for the assassination,
however, not known to the public is how it happened; but nonetheless, the
President thanks everyone who did their part in ending the crisis and that
America "will not forget their resolve". Fisher laughs at the thanks, watching
it at home with his daughter Sarah, who doesn't know why he's laughing. Fisher
then receives a secure phone call from Lambert about another assignment,
obviously disappointing Sarah.
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, we learn that
Sam Fisher's daughter was killed. It's an interesting part of the story because
it sort of just happens and then it's not really mentioned again. At first I thought
it was just a cover up or a diversion, but by the end of the game you really
have no other choice but to believe it.
Shortly after the
events of Chaos Theory, Sam Fisher must deal with the recent loss of his
daughter to a drunk driving accident. But he has little time to mourn, as he
soon has to go on an undercover assignment which requires him to pose as a
criminal in order to infiltrate a terrorist group based in the United States.
It's not until the latest game in the series we learn all is
not what it seems (it never is when spies are involved). At this point in the
game, everything has changed...Third Echelon where Sam Fisher is employed has
changed...but more importantly we learn...
Lambert had found out
that there was a mole in Third Echelon who planned to use Sarah as leverage
against Sam. In order to protect both of them, he staged Sarah's death as a car
accident and secured a similar looking body from Kobin, in order to allow Sam
to do his job. Despite this, Lambert concludes that he wasn't able to locate
the mole, and that his efforts may have been in vain.
If you've played the game, then no doubt you know the
outcome. And if you haven't, well I'll just say that it plays out a lot like
the A Time To Kill reference I made
earlier, about a father exacting revenge on those who would harm his child. Of
course Sam Fisher gets to do it in the line of duty and call it "work", but
playing a video game as a father seeking justice on the bad guys, can be a
truly emotional and powerful experience.
In closing, there is one more game I want to mention. It
hasn't been released yet...it's on the horizon, but it looks to be every bit as
powerful and emotionally charged. And while the entire story isn't quite known
at this point, it does seem to have a fatherly feel to it.
The Last of Us begins
in a Boston quarantine zone twenty years after a fungal plague decimated modern
civilization. Ellie, a 14-year-old orphan, lives in a strict boarding house,
and Joel, who is a black market dealer within the quarantine zone, sells weapons
and drugs. An event occurs where Joel makes a promise to a dying friend that he
will protect Ellie and help her escape.
All I have to say is, I hope nothing happens to Ellie...but my
bigger fear is that something will happen to Joel. Some fathers will stop at
nothing to provide for and protect their children - we've seen it in books,
film, video games...and even real life. These are the kinds of fathers we pause
to recognize on this day.
"I hope I am remembered by my children as a good father." -Orson Scott Card
Take care, be blessed and have a Happy Father's Day.