The 2017 Best Videogame Dads Awards

No longer (or ever) hosted on SpikeTV.

In 2017, a videogame just isn’t a videogame without a dad in it. From Wolfenstein to Assassin’s Creed, Shadow of War to Danganonpa: it’s scientifically impossible to market a game without a rough, tough, and preferably buff leading man... who is also a daddy.

But dads, digital and otherwise, come in all shapes and sizes. We here at Zam are equal opportunity daddy’s boys, girls, and other assorted gender-flavors of father-likers. So I haven’t just been hired to pick one group of the year’s best daddies on one set of criteria, but a party of patriarchs with pluses and negatives as varied as their beards. Sometimes it’s a sex thing. Sometimes it’s not! (It’s usually a sex thing.)

Whatever your particular reason for loving dads, and the video games they’re in, here’s a big list of them. All of them. Like, whatever your specific weird interest or narrative hook of choice, it is literally represented in the next 1100 words. Enjoy, but remember: serious dad-related spoilers ahead.

Best Dad with a Dead Kid: Bayek (Assassin’s Creed: Origins)

Nothing says motivation like a dead loved one. It’s basically impossible to believe a character might do the right thing without some kind of personal, vengeful investment, after all. Believing otherwise would just be naive -- and naivete is just another word for not being smart enough to be cynical. Since videogames are nothing if not mature, thoughtful entertainment, all the best dads have dead kids (and/or wives, sisters, childhood friends… basically anyone to make killing 657,000 bad guys believable).

All joking aside, Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ leading man, Bayek of Siwa, is the rare videogame dad that actually acts paternal. Flashbacks throughout the game show him genuinely taking advantage of teachable moments and doing his best to prepare Khemu for life in the harsh world at large. Origins also gets bonus points for showing Bayek and his wife, Aya, working through their shared grief -- rather than just casting Khemu’s mother as another victim.

Runners-up:

Heihachi Mishima (Tekken 7): no points for throwing your own son into a volcano.

Monokuma (Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony): for killing, resurrecting, and re-killing his own robot children.

Talion (Middle-Earth: Shadow of War): for being the boring, Platonic ideal of this trope.

Dad (Well, Parent) Most Likely to be Investigated for Child Neglect: Samus Aran (Metroid: Samus Returns)

Samus is an unconventional choice for one of 2017’s best dads. We know what you’re thinking. How can she possibly be a dad? She’s never had a kid of her own! To which we say: being an adoptive parent, even to an infant life-draining parasite from planet SR388, still counts. And you should feel terrible for implying otherwise, you monster.

It’s only appropriate that she should win it for Metroid: Samus Returns, too. It is a remake of the much maligned Game Boy game in which Samus first became a proud parent of the titular creature. On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore that Nintendo’s most famous bounty hunter basically sold the baby alien to curious scientists sometime before Super Metroid. Hence the “neglectful” part.

Runners-Up:

Akira’s Off-Screen Dad (Persona 5): for sending his son to just live with some guy that runs a cafe.

Sebastian (The Evil Within 2): for letting his daughter get hooked up to a shared consciousness nightmare machine for the better part of two games.

Heihachi Mishima (Tekken 7): for being the workaholic head of the Mishima Zaibatsu.

Dads Most Likely to Just Hang Out Together a Lot, You Know? Just Guys Bein’ Dudes: Goro Majima and Kazuma Kiryu (Yakuza 0/Yakuza Kiwami)

This one’s sure to ruffle some feathers. While it’s never made totally clear that Kiryu and Majima are very much in love, it’s absolutely made clear that Kiryu and Majima are in love. The signs are subtle, but most assuredly there: from when their eyes first meet at the end of Yakuza 0, to the time Majima swears only he’s allowed to kill his “Kiryu-chan”… To the time he performs a pole dance for Kiryu in a strip club… And again when he dresses up like a zombie and demands to bite and “taste” his fellow professional criminal. Oh, and all the roleplaying.

Yes. It’s that classic “boy meets boy” tale: timeless as the ages and pure as the driven, weapons-grade cocaine the pair have almost certainly sold in their capacity as high-ranking yakuza members. Age hasn’t dimmed the fairy tale fire, either, as the two appear to be ready to adopt another child of their own in Yakuza 6 next year. At least that’s what appears to be happening in this shot from the game.

Runners-up:

Everybody (Dream Daddy): for proving sex isn’t fake.

Bowser (Super Mario Odyssey): for clearly only ever kidnapping Peach to fuel Mario’s jealousy.

B.J. Blascowicz (Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus): for being so aggressively het I’m actually kind of into it.

Best Dead Dad: Mr. Price (Life is Strange: Before the Storm)

The best father figures inspire us long after they’re gone. Which is why we so often ask them to prove it. We look them dead in the eye and say “Prove it, old man. Prove your dedication to your only offspring -- the only living legacy that your existence on this sphere had any meaning.”

They think we’re joking at first, but we do not smile. We do not smile even as their own jocular grin begins to fade as they realize the gravity of the situation. We certainly don’t smile when we reveal the knife. How did it get there? Where were we hiding it? It doesn’t matter. We present it to them, handle first, and repeat the words: “Prove it.”

He takes the blade and his face contorts; not into a smile, of course, but into dry, painful sobs. Because this is not a joke. He has been selected for the proving…

Anyway, this one goes to Chloe’s dad from Life is Strange. Boy, was that ever sad!

Runners-up:

Talion (Middle Earth: Shadow of War): I had to copy-paste his name here because I already forgot it after the last category.

Amanda’s Other Dad (Dream Daddy): for seeming pretty cool, but only ever appearing in Polaroid form.

Pascal (NieR: Automata): because it’s unclear if he dies canonically or not.

MOST FUCKABLE

Majima.