Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and Destructoid is already getting in the spirit. I thought I would throw my hat in the ring and try out a little Mother’s Day festivity with a mom-themed blog entry of my own.
I want to focus on GOOD moms, though. Cool moms. Bad ass moms. All of the incredible potential mom protagonists that I could be playing in a game right now, and yet nobody is letting me. It seems like an especially relevant topic to raise, considering that the “daddification” of game stories continues to spread in the AAA space while high budget mom roles are comparatively absent. Why this? With titles like the new God of War, and The Last Of Us, and going all the way back to Bioshock 2 of the previous generation, consumers have plenty of options to choose from if they feel like playing a HERO DAD in a tight spot. You can play anything from a handsome five o’clock shadow dad all the way up to a grizzled old borderline grandpa dad. But where are the badass moms?
Everyone does know that bad ass moms are real, right?
We’ve all met them, right?
Let me clarify that I’m not raising the issue of leading woman roles in general. That's a separate issue. I’m talking specifically about a lack of leading MOMS where the game also cares deeply about them being moms. (As opposed to, say, killing them in the first scene or earlier so that a man has license to be angry and brooding. AGAIN.) The “daddification” of games is being treated as kind of a funny little coincidence at the present moment, but if this lopsided trend continues, doesn’t anyone out there think it is probably going to start to get weird pretty soon? It’s going to start getting a little weird, right? I feel like it could get weird. It might already have one toe in the weird zone. Let's agree to keep an eye on it.
But we can fix it! We can start right now on Mother’s Day! Just imagine all of the kick ass moms we could have! You think Kratos is terrifying? Have you ever seen a mother flip the mamma bear switch? I’m not talking about the “don’t you talk to my son that way” switch. That mode is maybe one percent bear. I mean have you ever seen what a mother becomes when her child is in literal peril? Have you ever seen what a mother becomes when the thing that is harming her child is another adult person? That’s the mamma bear switch. I’ve seen my own mom flip that switch, and I’ll give you some advice: Don’t be in that woman's way.
This is actually something that I’ve wanted to see in a game for a long time, so I’m going to do the super nerdy thing where I fantasize about ideal games that don’t actually exist yet. (I know, I'm sorry.) In this case, a short list of three existing maternal characters that I think would make excellent video game moms that I would love to play. I'm even going to focus specifically an older maternal figures to give us a little more of another thing video games are sorely lacking: Heroic OLDER Women
Let’s a go!
3. PROFESSOR MCGONAGALL
I fully admit that this one is cheating a little bit, since she’s not technically a mother in the biological sense, but I hope we can agree on the grounds that she does have a large number of children in her care. Professor McGonagall is the total package. She’s a researcher, a teacher, an administrator, and a warrior. Oh, the ministry of magic is stirring up some political bullshit? She’ll take care of it. Oh, the headmaster has to leave and now managing the entire school is her job? No problem! Oh, the Death Eaters have risen again and are going to attack the school and all of the children? Step aside while she whoops some magical ass. We’re talking about a lady who exudes power on like nine different levels, okay?
So what would her game be like? I think it would be very interesting to explore the way someone like Professor McGonagall has to keep all those different plates spinning at the same time. I would imagine her game being comparable to titles like Ni No Kuni 2 or Stardew Valley or Recettear. In all of those games, there is a certain amount of managerial or administrative work you have to do—especially when it comes to budgeting for the next quarter. In Ni No Kuni 2, you actually have to shuffle personnel around to various roles based on need, which parallels quite nicely to shuffling teacher schedules around depending on what courses are being taught this semester.
And don’t forget the extra-curriculars! But all of those games also task you to take sword or wand in hand and defend those under your protection. You can’t tell me that playing a headmistress witch in both her management and combat roles would not be fun!
Yes, it’s a weird choice, but I think it could be a cool one. One of the reasons I chose her is because I’ve been playing the new God of War recently. (Don’t worry. No spoilers here, friends!) One thing that’s really great about the new God of War is that putting a character like Kratos into a father position creates certain complications on account of the fact that Kratos has... erm... problems. Similarly, Rousseau is a character whose bid to be a mother makes us wince a little bit on account of the fact that Rousseau has... erm... problems.
Here you have this woman who has been living in isolation and fighting (sometimes quite literally!) for survival for years and years. She is bitter. She is paranoid. She is suspicious of everyone and everything. She is practical to a fault. Any of this starting to sound like any other characters you know?
But Rousseau is also different in that she skews very heavily into the paranoia zone, making her very skittish. Everything looks like a threat. Everything is "infected". Everything is a sign that “they” are doing something, and it’s bad. How interesting it would be to play a game as someone like Rousseau who—like Kratos—is extremely overqualified when it comes to surviving and protecting herself, yet still needs a lot of help mentally and emotionally. She struggles with trust, both in the sense of trusting other people as well as in the sense of trusting simple reality. Imagine her in a role similar to that of Alan Wake (hey, the smoke monster and the dark presence are close enough to the same antagonist, right?), where it turns out that her paranoia is not entirely wrong! But imagine if, like LOST, her paranoia is not entirely correct either. Imagine a character who is not one hundred percent sure about what is real and what is just warped reality. Imagine she has a daughter she must protect. Imagine that daughter is her strongest tether to reality.
1. GRANDMA BEN
Like Vanessa Williams, I have saved the best for last. Grandma Ben is fucking legend. If you don’t know about her, that can only mean that you have never read the complete BONE graphic novels by Jeff Smith. I’m not even a comics person and I’m telling you that you will not regret reading these. Imagine a 10-volume epic that is like Who Framed Roger Rabbit mashed up with Lord Of The Rings. Imagine that it’s not weird at all but is actually very incredibly good. Grandma Ben is a character in that epic tale, and she is the most bad ass grandma that ever was. Imagine if your grandma lived on a dairy farm but also she was somehow Luke Cage. That’s basically the level of grandma we're on.
Grandma Ben lives in a cute little cabin in the woods, where she chops her own wood, raises her own cows, and butchers her own chickens. At first you admire her just because she’s a granny who gets shit done, but it doesn’t end there. Pretty soon, a couple of guys who are up to no good start making trouble in her neighborhood, and it makes her quite cross! You won’t like grandma when she’s cross!
That’s when the truth about Grandma Ben starts to come out! I won’t spoil anything for you, dear reader, but suffice to say that there is a little bit more to Grandma Ben’s badassery than meets the eye! She is an absolute delight!
I honestly want to see someone like Grandma Ben in an action game. We’ve seen more than enough grizzled old vikings, from Skyrim, to Banner Saga, to new God of War, that we deserve an equivalent in a character like Grandma Ben. I wanna play the grandma who is both maternal one minute and in the next minute, when she catches some orc or wereolf being a MIGHTY IMPOLITE YOUNG MAN to her grandaughter, rises up and punches that orc straight through a wall. Then she tut-tuts at the unconscious orc that that is no way for a young man to act! All of this while not spilling a single drop of the jack daniels in her hand, of course! She got a good deal on that jack daniels! She had a coupon!
What about you? Any bad ass moms you'd like to see made playable?