I might be voted “Least Likely to Be a Gamer” among my CAPC cohorts, having spent my brief foray in the gaming world on adolescent adventures in Tetris and Bubble Bobble. That said, I hear a lot about the gaming world behind the scenes at our venture, so the Wired headline “Dawn of the Dad: Fathers Are the New Videogame Superhero” piqued my interest. I’m used to mainstream media portrayals of dads as deadbeats and doofuses—not as heroes—so this new spin on fatherhood seemed like a refreshing change. Given the content of the article, these games look both graphic and gruesome, but I’m not here to make an argument about the respective merits or demerits of such features. I’ll leave those conversations to the folks here who know a whole lot more about the content and context of the game.
I am intrigued, though, and hopeful that this marketing campaign, which seems to be happening across several games at once, signals a change in the way that we regard fatherhood as a culture. It’s easy to forget how many of the heroes we acknowledge (like those rescue workers and soldiers) are fathers too; it’s easy to forget too, or ignore, the sacrifices that fathers make every day for their children. As our illustrator Seth Hahne recently pointed out, he loves his child just as fervently as any mother. I don’t doubt it, and I think the same is true of my husband and all the other fathers I can think of. It’s just that they so seldom get credit because paternal love is skewed to seem unrecognizable as actual love.
It’s telling how much these games recognize the power of fatherly love and the sacrificial acts fathers will make to defend their families. Many of these games put the players in the position of father to orphaned children, calling upon deep reserves of protective instincts and drawing upon the love the players feel for their own children. After all, what parent, if his child asked him for bread, would give him a stone (Matthew 7:9)? So then, what father, if asked to preserve his family from a zombie invasion, could possibly turn away?