May-June Roundup: ‘Childhood-Parenthood’

It’s been a season of growth for Blogs of the Round Table this spring with our shared topics of ‘childhood’ and ‘parenthood’. Although the topics were called on separate occasions they wound up merging into a single conversation. Maturity is accepting changes so we’re happy to see the discussion develop organically:

How did your parents influence your experience of games and play? How did their care-taking change the way you look at games? How did growing up change your relationship to games? And how do games themselves explore parenting figures and the need for a caretaker? Tell us about games directed at children and and the guidance needed to mature as a player, developer, teacher, or however else you’re connected to games. We want to hear all about childhood this May and what part it has in developing, shaping and understanding play!

How does being a parent influence play? Have games changed during parenthood or even with different stages of parenthood? What does gaming mean as a parent playing with their children? Moreover, having a family and creating games is a conflict we see again and again in development circles. And then there are games themselves that happily discard or shove aside parental characters as motivation. Tell us about the games you play with your kids, the games that adequately capture the the themes of parenting. We want to know all about how games mediate relationships parents have with children and with one another.

Taylor Hidalgo gets the first word on his blog The Thausarus Rex. Hidalgo isn’t sure he should have played Fallout 2 so young but found its exploratory playfulness oddly to be an oddly childish, for both better and worse:

Much like the children in the street, Fallout 2 is a game of its player’s devising just as much as its pre-developed narrative. The mechanics are set in stone, much like the layout of the streets and physics, but the games that were available within those limitations seem almost limitless. It’s a child’s paradise games to play, inventing random parameters and experimenting with them to see what sticks, what’s fun, and what works.

Seth Tomko pops in on Hub Pages to discuss some examples of surrogate fatherhood in videogames. It’s a solid overview of how the trope works in a variety of well known titles:

The importance of having these storylines occur in games is multifaceted. At the most obvious, the central narrative gets a time-tested structure upon which the action of the game can hinge. At a deeper level, this design put relationships at the center of gameplay…

I decided to get in on the action and sketched out some thoughts about quests to save parents versus quests to save love interests. It seems to me that where love or frendship related calls to action promise a reward, where quests to save parents are motivated by duty with no apparent reward outside protecting the family.

Lastly, on Better Games, Better Gamers, Dan Lipson discusses the mentor-student bond of Kratos and Lloyd in Tales of Symphonia. There are spoilers abound in Lipson’s analysis but he covers an aspect seldom discussed in a game that’s otherwise reasonably well known.

Woah! It feels like we’ve come so far and learned so much. Once again I thank all our wonderful contributors for participating and you readers for looking at their work. We’ll be back real soon for another topic for July’s Blogs of the Round Table!

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