The best and worst dads of gaming

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The fathers of the gaming world are frequently an ill-fated bunch, always either dying to spur their offspring on to save the world, or having their kids die so they embark on revenge missions.

I'm a new father myself, with my beautiful little boy Gannicus Picard Arthur arriving just last week, and there's no doubt gaming will be a big part of our relationship.

The first night I spent with him in the NICU involved explaining when to use the lancer and when to use the hammerburst, the circumstances under which blind fire is a viable tactic, and when its acceptable to leave cover. Hopefully I'll have him rolling d20s as soon as he's big enough to not try swallowing them.

There's been a lot of iconic fathers – both good and bad – in the history of gaming, and here we're going to count down some of the most memorable on both ends of the spectrum.

For the other side of the parenting coin, check out our list of the best and worst moms in gaming instead!

Lee Everett – The Walking Dead Season 1

The first of several non-biological fathers we'll cover, after coming across Clementine during the zombie apocalypse, Lee Everett more than rises to the occasion of raising a little girl who isn't his own.

From figuring out how to cut hair to finding a way to feed Clementine and even teaching her important life lessons while the world slides into horror, Lee is a hell of a surrogate dad.

Even in his dying act he toughens up Clementine, making her more prepared for the way the world has become.

Harry Mason – Silent Hill

Unlike James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2, Harry Mason isn't secretly the antagonist who killed his whole family, so he's already got that going for him.

In the original Silent Hill that really kicked the survival horror craze into high gear, poor Harry just wants to find his daughter and get the heck out of the creepy city filled with evil monsters and crazy religious zealots.

He goes through some severe craziness to ultimately achieve his goal and prevent her from being used as a conduit for an evil god. Eventually in Silent Hill 3, Harry actually dies for his daughter.

Adam Fenix – Gears Of War

Although very bad for both humanity and locust (what with engineering the hammer of dawn strikes and then literally killing all locust everywhere), Adam was apparently very good to his son, who felt a fanatical loyalty to Adam.  The Gears hero Marcus ends up spending years in prison when he abandons his post in a doomed attempt save his dad.

When the two are finally reunited years later in Azura, Adam is more than a little apologetic for all he cost his son. In the upcoming Gears Of War 4 we'll get to find out if Marcus is any better a dad, as his son will be one of the main characters in the next generation.

 

Barret Wallace – Final Fantasy 7

Another non-biological dad, Barret adopts Marlene after Shinra massacres everyone in Corel. He's constantly struggling between wanting to be around his daughter – who by all accounts is turning out to be a polite and pleasant little girl despite her roughshod father – and going off to battle monsters and corporations to save the planet.

Kratos – God Of War

You've got to give it to Kratos for really sending some mixed messages and exemplifying both ends of the good/bad spectrum.

On the one hand, he went on an epic quest to find Ambrosia to save his daughter from plague. On the other, he then subsequently killed his wife and daughter.

Sure, he was sort of tricked into doing it by Ares, but he still did it, and then spends the rest of the series killing every god he comes across in response.

The Lone Wanderer's Dad – Fallout 3

Who doesn't want Liam Neeson as a dad? I mean, he'd go to crazy lengths to get you back! Although in Fallout 3, he's a lot less of the dad from Taken than a mild mannered scientist trying to make a difference.

James gives up his scientific pursuits to bring pure water to the wasteland to care for his son in Vault 101. Of course, the lure of science and progress pulls him out of the Vault and onto a new quest, with the Lone Wanderer following in his footsteps as the two go on adventures together across the wasteland.

In a stunning example of fatherly love, if you blow up Megaton and tell him about it, he totally forgives you. I'm honestly not sure if that's good or bad parenting. Later on in the game, James sacrifices himself so the Lone Wanderer can escape the Enclave soldiers.

Sole Survivor – Fallout 4

Whether the Sole Survivor is a fantastic dad or a really, really bad one sort of depends on how you play, but honestly it's pretty hard to be a good father in this game. Who seriously followed only the main story line quests from beginning to end without doing ANYTHING on the side? 

Sure, your kid has been kidnapped out of time from a cryogenic facility, but there's lots to do out there in the Commonwealth, and eventually something is going to draw you away.

Whether it's the lure of caps, all those super needy settlements that Preston Garvey is so excited to tell you about, or maybe even the mysteries to be discovered in Far Harbor, it's a good bet you'll spend some time forgetting all about little Shaun.

Joel – The Last Of Us

Dang, Joel fights hard to save his daughter in the opening segment of The Last Of Us, but alas, it wasn't meant to be, and she's an early casualty in the end of the world.

After turning into a hardened killer who does what it takes to survive in a world gone mad, Joel goes even more nuts to protect surrogate daughter Ellie. That dedication to protecting her actually dooms the world, making him the best dad, but perhaps worst human being.

King Of All Cosmos – Katamari Damacy

This hilarious father figure from the Katamari series also previously made our list of the most outrageous and least inspiring quotes in all gaming for his relentlessly negative speech.

A bumbling creator god, the King frequently accidentally destroys existence, then tasks his kids with fixing everything for him.

The King definitely doesn't believe in coddling his children, or even giving them any sort of positive reinforcement. I can't tell you how many times I heard the sad music in Beautiful Katamari as the King said “Here's a tip: you can do better!”

In one instance if you fail a level, he goes on a massive tirade about what a slacker his son the Prince truly is and how sad it is he has such a loser for a son... while he hurls giant pool balls at you!

That wraps up our rankings of the best and worst father figures from every era and platform of the video game universe. What did you think of our list and who should have made the cut that we missed?

Here at Gameskinny we'd like to wish a very fond happy Father's Day to all the gaming daddy's out there! What games have you gotten your kids into and are they beating your high scores yet?

For all the gaming momma's – we didn't forget about you! You get your own list of amazing and terrifying mothers right here.

Published Jun. 8th 2016

Featured Contributor

Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.


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