The missing mom avatar

Tue Jul 23, 2013

Why aren’t there more mom avatars in video gaming? I’m just throwing that out there. I haven’t done much research on this topic, but I can speculate. As the protagonist in the game’s narrative, the avatar has become more complex and interesting these days, which is great. And it seems that there are more options for female gamers, as far as customization goes. I’m thinking of the FemShep in the Mass Effect trilogy, and so on. There’s still plenty of objectification (maybe more-so in sub-cultures like the Japanese game industry), but overall strong female characters are out there (looking at you Lara Craft).

But when it comes to playing a parent - mom is out in the cold. The father-daughter type relationship has come up most recently in Naughty Dog’s Last of Us (which I haven’t played) and also the excellent Walking Dead game by Telltale. The emotional bond fatherhood engenders is also explored in Heavy Rain. There are probably more examples out there. But I can’t think of a single game out there where you are a mom (or mom-type character).

It could be the perceived demographic of gamers - although there are more female gamers than ever, most game developers probably can’t envision moms doing any kind of gaming beyond pretend yoga on the Wii Fit. Or maybe it’s the nature of games - where the story is almost always driven by a fight or flight situation where you have to gun down zombies / aliens / bad people (or run away from them). Are we uncomfortable thinking about a mom who is willing to kill?

But then again, what is more natural than a mom protecting her child? A mom backed into a corner would likely wield that shotgun with far more determination than a trained but emotionally-detached soldier. Tough mom characters appear in the movies, why not in games? Think of how awesome Sigourney Weaver was in Aliens, when she faced down the xenomorph queen slobbering over the little girl and says “Get away from her, you bitch” with such quiet conviction that her words seem more powerful than the mechanized robot suit she’s sitting in. Why can’t I play her in a game?

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