Video game lessons: how not to flirt in real-life

Many people will be thinking of romance and how to treat their partner this weekend now that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re looking for guidance though, I’d highly recommend thinking twice before turning to video games for advice.

For every protagonist couple destined to be together, there’s another which seems totally unlikely and confuses us; and for every charming compliment used by a hero to woo their sweetheart, there’s an opposite which is far too cringey. It’s the latter that we’re going to dig into today as we take a look at some of the worst chat-up lines in gaming. Try using any of these in real-life and it’s almost guaranteed you’re going to end up with a drink being poured over your head.

Dragon Age: Origins: “Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter?”

Today’s round-up kicks off with a pickup line suggested to me by Ellen from Ace Asunder. I’ve not played Dragon Age: Origins myself so the only thing I know of it is what I’ve seen of the clip opposite – and I’m a little bewildered. Does Alistair really believe this is a good flirting technique? I get the feeling he has been hanging out with Garrus (see below) and can’t quite decide if he’s going for sincere or euphemism. But if it’s the former, I’d highly recommend not licking any lampposts.

Fable: “Heeey…”

Getting someone to fall in love with you in the world of Fable is as simple as walking up to them and saying ‘Hey’ in a smooth voice with a raised eyebrow. Add a Manly Arm Pump or Sexy Hero Pose, give the object of your affection a bunch of roses or a box of chocolates and you’re well on your way to marriage. I’m not sure who I’m most annoyed at in this situation. The Hero for being too lazy come up with a less cliched approach, or every single inhabitant of the town for falling for it.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers: “There’s something about you. You really touch me.”

As Nathan from Gaming Omnivore found out for himself last year, Gabriel Knight is a total sleazebag who frequently lets his fondness for pretty ladies get in the way of an investigation. He throws pickup-lines at his assistant Grace so often that you know the first time he meets beautiful socialite Malia is going to be cringeworthy. With lines like the one above and “Your legs are so strong, do you work out at one of the clubs?”, he’s lucky she didn’t slap him before kicking him out of her house.

Mass Effect 3: “I’ve got this big gun back at my place I’d like to show you.”

I feel sorry for Garrus. He’s one of the best characters in the Mass Effect series and has some endearing qualities that would make him a great life partner – but he’s going to struggle to find himself one because he just doesn’t have a clue when it comes to romance. After Commander Shepherd tells him he needs a date and introduces him to another turian at a bar, the only thing he can think of to talk about is gun collection. I’m not sure you could say anything else which sounds more like a euphemism.

Metal Gear Solid: “If you make it back in one piece, maybe I’ll let you do a strip search on me.”

It’s impossible to say what I hate most about the conversations in Metal Gear Solid. It could be the way the characters think there’s nothing wrong with calling each other during a top-secret mission and having a chat. Perhaps it’s how Snake feels it’s appropriate to start hitting on the young Mei Ling immediately after being introduced to her, and while others are on the same line. Or maybe it’s the way Naomi fights for his attention by saying she’ll let him do a strip search. Urgh.

Resident Evil 3: “All the foxy ladies love my accent, it drives them crazy.”

Thanks to Luke for Hundstrasse for sending this gem to me. Carlos from Resident Evil 3 believes he doesn’t need chat-up lines because his sexy accent does all the hard work for him. So when Jill wants to ask something, he automatically assumes she’s going to propose a date – but she doesn’t react and instead asks him why he has been sent there. Perhaps Carlos has been taking a few too many tips from the Fable Hero and needs to start putting in a bit more effort when it comes to dating.

The Curse of Monkey Island: “By my congealed blood, you’ll learn to love me!”

Let’s face it: Guybrush Threepwood is a bit of an idiot. He’s sarcastic, insults everyone around him and messes up every plan he’s involved in, and someone as independent and courageous as Elaine would have been far better off with LeChuck. With lines like those he uses however, it’s never going to happen. It’s usually a good idea to not remind the object of affection that you’re a zombie or make them think about your congealed insides when you’re trying to flirt with them.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: “Is that an ancient Tibetan ritual dagger in your pocket?”

Anyone who’s ever tuned into our streams will know that Pete and I have different opinions when it comes to Nathan Drake. He thinks he’s a nice guy with a charming cheeky streak; I think he’s an idiot who has far too much good luck on his side. That’s why I’ll never understand what Chloe sees in him or why she constantly flirts with the douchebag. I’ll give her points though for coming up with a bad pickup-line which references his obsession with ancient artefacts though – and I’m not talking about Sully.

And that concludes our lesson on how not to flirt in real-life. Whatever you’re doing for Valentine’s Day this weekend, I hope it involves video games and not licking lampposts.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)

Games of their time: still something special

Have you ever felt like replaying a game you haven’t touched in years, and then felt slightly disappointed when you do? There’s an image of it in your mind and you remember what it like the first time you played – but are let down when what you’re playing now doesn’t match up.

I’ve had the opportunity to take part in several game-swaps with other bloggers this year and this has given me the chance to try some older releases I’ve not experienced before. First up was Luke from Hundstrasse, who sent me Whiplash for my PlayStation 2 after we decided to find the most bizarre retro titles we could. Next was Athena from AmbiGaming with whom I swapped favourite games, and you can find out what I made of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in last Wednesday’s post.

In return, Athena bravely challenged herself to play Fable on her Twitch channel every week until she’d completed it. Work conference calls sometimes got in the way but I tuned in as often as I could and, watching her experience the title that had me back into gaming in my early 20s, I remembered a lot of fond memories and found myself wanting to play it again myself. That weekend I turned on our Xbox One, tracked down Fable Anniversary on Game Pass, hit the install button and waited eagerly with the controller in hand.

I’ll always love this series. I understand why it gets a lot of criticism in certain respects, one of them being that it never lived up to the expectations that the proclamations of designer Peter Molyneux set for it, but I can see past that. To me he was someone who was pushing the boundaries, being inventive, taking risks instead of churning out cardboard-copy titles and I can admire him for that; and there’s a chance that without Fable, I wouldn’t be a gamer today or be sitting here writing about my hobby.

Playing through the start of Fable Anniversary reminded me of how much the original title had pulled me in back in 2004. It was something to do with the land of Albion, its real-but-fantasy setting which felt like something out of a fairytale and made you believe the protagonist was destined for great things. It was the world’s inhabitants too: perhaps my favourite thing about them is the humour, and anyone who enjoys a Monty-Python-style of comedy is sure to find something here which appeals to them.

But damn, the controls were bad. Like, really bad. I didn’t remember it being like this before and had no trouble picking up the title all those years ago. But now the buttons felt as though they were back to front and I was behaving like an uncoordinated mess (more so than usual). Accessing the menus felt counter-intuitive, the items on the D-pad changed continuously and the camera never stayed where I wanted it to. No wonder Athena had remarked about the control scheme on a few occasions during her streams.

She also made a comment about certain releases being ‘games of their time’ during her next session on Twitch the following week and this really struck a chord with me. It completely hit the nail on the head when it came to the original Fable. Its story and humour were still current enough and the graphics didn’t let it down too much, plus it had been positively received when it had been released 16-years ago. But the controls had aged terribly and made playing the title sluggish, giving it a heavy and dated feeling.

I feel the same way whenever I turn on my PlayStation 2 nowadays. The console may have had some great releases but I dislike the controller immensely now, mainly because the jump button never seems like it’s in the right place. I had to hand it over to my other-half while playing Whiplash for my game-swap with Luke because there were certain bits I just couldn’t get to grips with; and I made the decision to play MGS2 on our Xbox for my collaboration with Athena, thinking it may be easier with a modern controller.

It didn’t help much though. I struggled with the way the protagonist insisted on sticking to walls whenever I got too close to them and he wouldn’t do certain actions unless I removed his weapon first. I may had had a few issues with my first Kojima game but as several people in the Twitch chat said to us: there was nothing on the market back in 2001 which was as cinematic or ambitious in what it was trying to deliver, so I can imagine it was something truly spectacular for players at the time.

I guess that’s what ‘games of their time’ are. They may feel old and outdated to us but, when you look back on what they managed to achieve when they we released, it’s clear there was something special about them. Without these titles we may not be where we are today in terms of narrative strength, innovative mechanics or impressive visuals and you can see their influence in many of today’s titles. We might not get the same feeling from playing them now but we’ve still got a lot to thank them for.

The next game-swap lined up is with Ellen from Ace Asunder. She was rather put off of full-motion video (FMV) after watching us play the strange Dark Nights with Poe and Munro in May so I’ve sent her copies of Her Story and The Madness of Doctor Dekker to prove that there are some good entries in the genre. In return she has gifted me Final Fantasy XIII to help me get over my aversion to turn-based combat, so we’ll see if we manage to convince each other to come around to the others’ way of thinking and open our eyes to new genres.

FFXIII was released in 2009 so it’s a little newer than the other titles I’ve played for game-swaps so far, relatively speaking. I’m curious to find out if it turns out to be another game of its time, and whether I’ll see what it is that makes it special for Ellen.

Metal Gear Solid 2: cutscenes and craziness

Back in March, Luke from Hundstrasse and I took part in a game-swap. Our objective was to find the most bizarre retro titles and, in return for my gift of Realm of the Dead, he sent me Whiplash – a platformer that caused come controversy when it was released in 2004.

It was a fun experience so, when Athena from AmbiGaming asked if I wanted to do another game-swap, I agreed straight away. This time the requirement would be different though: instead of searching for titles the other had never played before, we instead challenged each other to try one of our favourite releases. This explains why she completed Fable on stream recently, something I can only apologise to her for; I might love this game but the controls and camera do feel awfully clunky nowadays.

She nominated me to play Metal Gear Solid in return but it didn’t quite work out as planned. Thanks to the original being rather expensive to purchase and a code donated by Ellen from Ace Asunder not working due to regional lockout, I didn’t get the chance. Athena agreed I could play Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty instead, so a copy was ordered for my PlayStation 2; but ultimately I installed it on our Xbox One after realising it was available via Game Pass as it would enable the use of a modern controller.

This would be the first Hideo Kojima title I’d ever tried so I felt a little apprehensive for a couple of reasons. Although I can enjoy action releases, poor coordination means I’m not that great at them and I wondered how long it would take me to complete the game. In addition, my opinion of Kojima had been influenced by articles I’d read in the past – about the way he viewed women, his eccentricity, his sense of ego – so I wasn’t sure whether I’d feel comfortable with what I was about to see.

I usually give a story overview of the game at this point in posts but I’ve struggled to write one for MGS2. There are so many plot-twists thrown at the player, particularly within the last couple of hours, that I’m not entirely sure I fully understand what happened. There was something about virtual-reality (VR) simulations, several terrorist organisations, a president being taken hostage, huge metal machines which behave like animals and artificial intelligence (AI) – and this is only a start.

And there are cutscenes. Lots and lots of cutscenes, some so lengthy that our Xbox decided to put itself on standby while we were watching. I found this infographic online which shows they averaged 05:30 minutes each, with the longest being 20:15 minutes. I’m not adverse to such moments in video games because I usually play them for the narrative, but at times it was excessive: it felt like the control was taken away from us each time we were starting to get into the gameplay.

Metal Gear Solid 2, MGS2, Sons of Liberty, video game, man, Solid Snake, face, gun

Luke was watching while Pete and I streamed the game on Twitch, and kindly sent me an email last week to try and explain it all. I can’t deny that I’m still confused though. There are so many plot elements, not all of which seem completely relevant or necessary, and there are far too many names for someone who struggles to remember the characters are like I do. There was the impact of streaming too: sometimes it was hard to follow what was happening in-game at the same time as trying to keep up with chat.

Luke also told me about the controversy surrounding MGS2 at the time of its release. The tanker section, where you play as Solid Snake, was released as a prologue so fans were understandably annoyed when they got their hands on the full release and realised they’d be spending a lot of time with Raiden. I’ve also read that Kojima came up with the idea of this new protagonist to appeal to female players, after hearing female debuggers working on the original Metal Gear Solid say that it wasn’t appealing to them. More about this later.

I agreed with Athena before starting that I could attempt the title on the easiest mode and I’m glad I took this option. I had to pass the controller to Pete on several occasions because there were sections I struggled to get to grips with. My main issue was the way the camera angle changed whenever you entered a new scene so I never knew which direction I’d be moving in (the main reason I’ve never felt totally comfortable with classic point-and-click series that make the transition from 2D to 3D).

The thing is though, for all the things I found confusing or frustrating about MGS2, there’s a part of me that enjoyed playing it. After our stream of the last section of the game, my other-half and I both admitted to each other that we’d actually had quite a lot of fun. Maybe it was the fact that we could finally say we’d experienced a Metal Gear title, or that we’d played while discussing it with friends over Twitch, or that we just never knew what the plot was going to throw at us next. It’s difficult to put my finger on it.

I can see why the series is one of Athena’s favourites. Certain elements might come across over-the-top or not aging well, but it must have been pretty amazing to experience a release that like that on the PlayStation 2 when it was originally released back in 2001. As Nathan from Gaming Omnivore and Phil explained to us, there was nothing on the market 19 years ago which was as cinematic or ambitious in what it was trying to deliver, so I can imagine it was something truly spectacular for players at the time.

I’m afraid I can’t end this post without saying something about the game’s depiction of women though, and I’m not sure what it is that annoyed me the most. Maybe it was that Emma both looks and behaves like a 12-year old girl despite being 18, and Raiden has a good long look at her butt as she climbs down a ladder above him. Or perhaps it was that girlfriend Rose feels the need to call him regularly and constantly brings up their relationship every time he wants to save, even though he’s on an important mission.

As Kevin from The Lawful Geek said in chat: Kojima can’t write a female character to save his life. But my annoyance could also come from the designer creating the protagonist for female players, as if a hunky blonde hero is the only thing we’re interested in when it comes to playing video games. It almost feels like he treats a person’s view of the opposite sex as something that’s purely sexual; his characters’ interactions are very voyeuristic and it’s as if people are measured in terms of their sexual worth.

I might not like all the characters. I might think the cutscenes are excessive. I might feel that MGS2 is incredibly self-indulgent and as Brandon from That Green Dude said, could have benefited from an editor going through it and telling Kojima ‘No’. But playing this game has definitely been an experience and one I’m glad I’ve had. In the very least, it gave me the opportunity to play something I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise and be more open to the idea of further game-swaps in the future.

Metal Gear Solid 2, MGS2, Sons of Liberty, video game, man, Raiden

Speaking of which, my next collaboration is lined up already. I’ve shared before that I really dislike turn-based combat because I just don’t have the patience for it, so Ellen is going to try and convince me otherwise with her gift of Final Fantasy XIII. In return I’ve gifted her both Her Story and The Madness of Doctor Dekker, to help cure her of her aversion to full-motion video (FMV) after she watched us play Dark Nights with Poe and Munro in May (perhaps not the greatest example of the genre).

Thanks so much to Athena from slogging through Fable and for giving me the chance to experience my first Metal Gear game. Here’s to more game-swaps!

Byte me: IT geeks in video games

What do you think when you hear the term ‘IT geek’? Is the image conjured in your head of an overweight and bespectacled male, someone who lives an unhealthy lifestyle, prone to talking in excessively-technical terms and leaving crumbs all over the keyboards?

That’s the stereotype used in The Moment of Silence, a point-and-click from 2004 by House of Tales that I spent around eight hours with towards the end of last year. Unfortunately I’m unable to finish it after a Windows update caused the game to stop running but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: although I’d like to see how it’s jumbled story ends at some point, its depictions of certain characters are horrible. It caused need to start thinking about how we’re portrayed in video games and I wondered if we’re always shown in a negative light?

Bill from The Moment of Silence

The Moment of Silence, video game, office, advertising agency, desks, men, Peter, BillLet’s start with the character who inspired this post: dear old Bill. He’s a colleague to protagonist Peter and looks after the IT equipment at the advertising agency where they work together. He’s accused of being overly protective of his server room and getting crumbs all over the keyboards around the office; and it’s revealed that his password is ‘sexmachine_bill_2044’. This is an absolutely terrible representation and Bill’s only redeeming feature is that he seems genuinely concerned about Peter’s wellbeing.

Hackerman from Kung Fury

Kung Fury, man, Hackerman, 80s, mullet, glassesMove over, Guybrush: there’s a new geek crush in town. Although he’s from the short film rather than the game itself, Hackerman is worthy of a spot on today’s list because I think I’m in love. His computer skills are so legendary that he can even hack time and without him on Kung Fury’s team, they may not have been able to travel back to defeat Kung Führer’s Nazi army. Take a look at this video if you want to see how he did it and to quote the man himself: with great processing power comes great responsibility. Swoon.

Bernard Bernoulli from the Maniac Mansion series

Day of the Tentacle, Remastered, video game, boy, geek,nerd, Bernard Bernoulli, laundretteBernard is a much-loved protagonist from a well-known series but it’s impossible to say he’s an entirely positive description of someone who’s good with IT. He may be the most useful character in the original game with more technical skills than the other kids, fixing both the telephone and radio; but he lacks guts, is easily terrified and carries his pens in a pocket protector at all times. Although you might be able to forgive Maniac Mansion as it was released in 1987, it’s a bad stereotype we’re bored of.

Delores Edmund from Thimbleweed Park

Thimbleweed Park, video game, kitchen, Delores Edmund, girlWho wants to run a pillow-factory when you can work for a famous developer and make adventure games? Delores decided to follow her dreams despite the risk of being disowned by her family, and it’s this courage which makes her one of the best things about Thimbleweed Park. Not only is she highly intelligent, teaching herself to code and having a poster of Ada Lovelace in her bedroom; she’s also warm and friendly, and wants to do the right thing for her town. Now that’s just the kind of hero we need.

Octacon from the Metal Gear Solid series

Metal Gear Solid, video game, man, coat, glasses, OctaconChief engineer Hal Emmerich, better known as Octacon, is a computer programming whiz and devoted fan of anime. He was initially planned to look different as the original idea for the character was to make him ‘heavier, wearing a cap and programming while eating a chocolate bar’; but it’s thanks to Yoji Shinkawa for ignoring yet another tired trope from Hideo Kojima. Saying that though, Octacon’s history still contains an affair with his stepmom so I guess originality didn’t win completely.

Chris Hartley from Until Dawn

Until Dawn, video game, male, teenager, Chris HartleyWhile playing Until Dawn for Halloween this year, there was only one character I really wanted to save – and I’m pleased to say he made it to the ends credits in our playthrough. Chris is awesome. He may love technology, be lost without an internet connection and want to be an app designer, but he doesn’t let his geekiness be the only thing that defines him. The best thing about him is how much he cares about his friends: he risks his life for him on several occasions and can even sacrifice himself for Ashley. She’s one lucky girl.

So it seems as though the representation of IT geeks is the same as any other in video games: many are positive while others are simply awful. As discussed by Ed Fear at AdventureX last month, stereotypes aren’t necessarily a bad thing because they give players a handhold and let them know something about a protagonist immediately. But it’s important for developers to build on that and make their characters more than a trope, because that’s where the power to change opinions comes from.

I’d love to hear how you think you’re represented in games. Are there any characters you feel are positive role models, or are there any that you hate?

We’re taking part in GameBlast20 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)

A trip down nostalgia lane

It’s time for some sentimentality and yearning for a return to past periods in my gaming history, with some particular titles that evoke the feeling of nostalgia for me.

This is a very subjective topic and I’d love the opportunity to share my own memories and see how they compare to yours. Most of the following games come from the late 1990s when I finally had my own income and could buy any release I wanted – or one every few months at least.

1997: Tomb Raider II

A friend and I had reached level 14 together, the ice palace, and had just pulled a lever before leaving Lara Croft standing still while we checked a game guide for what to do next. We had left our progress un-paused for quite some time with the character stood facing the wall, so our view was restricted. We had no idea there were giant Yetis in the game – and we definitely didn’t know that this was the level which introduced them – and I expect you can imagine our screams a giant creature barged it’s way on screen and began attacking Lara.

I found this title to be just as scary as Resident Evil 2 (see below), if not more in some places. I believe it was the ambient music and sound that provided the right atmosphere to immerse myself in the 3D world. The scariest thing would have to be the butler at Croft Manor who follows Lara around the lonely mansion while carrying a tray of crockery, and groaning from back pain no doubt. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t managed to lock him into the freezer just to get rid of him.

1998: Metal Gear Solid

This was a timed demo from the Official PlayStation magazine, and I remember the preview article made the game out to be something special.From the intro only is was obvious it was going to be a big hit and I’m not usually one for stealth games. The story, cinematic cutscenes and gritty aesthetic drew me in with its movie-like quality; and let’s not forget one of the best boss-fights ever in video games with Psycho Mantis. This sequence broke the fourth-wall by making your controller move using the rumble feature and causing you to believe the television channel had been changed by blanking the screen with ‘HIDEO’ in the top-right corner – a reference to Hideo Kojima.
Beating Psycho Mantis requires the PlayStation controller to be unplugged and placed into the second controller port, otherwise you’re unable to control Snake. He even reads your memory card making references to how many saves have been made and comments on particular entries such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night if one exists. The controller trick alone is both genius and risky because unless you have a friend or game guide to explain it, you could become stuck. One other trick worth mentioning is the point where a character tells Snake about a radio frequency that can be found ‘on the back of the CD case’, referring to the actual physical one. One of the screenshots included there was of a radio conversation with the frequency clearly visible. Imagine what an incredible problem this was if you rented the game as often the original sleeve wasn’t included.


1998: Resident Evil 2

Back when demo discs were stuck to the front of magazines, I had my first experience with the Capcom’s Resident Evil series on my original PlayStation. I’m sure it was my first time with zombies in video games and the quality of this one was astounding, but I hadn’t heard of the developer before. My brother and I played the time-limited ten-minute demo over and over to get as far into the opening section as possible. We thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t find it that scary until after the statue puzzle upstairs in the police station. Returning to the lobby takes you through a narrow corridor where we experienced our first jump-scare – zombie arms smashing through the window. We both up and left our room in horror.
The frights in Resident Evil 2 were unintentionally signposted by a pause in the gameplay while the CD drive spun up and you could hear the sound of the laser navigating the disc. It wasn’t obvious at the time as it’s not something you’re aware of as a kid, but today it would almost be comical. We were planning to buy the full game as soon as it was released until this fright and we headed straight to our parent’s room to let them know we’d had second thoughts. In the end we did get it, and the same thing happened again but with crows instead of zombies; except for this time we had the volume up high to make the most of a new set of speakers, and once more we left the room sharply.

2003: PlanetSide

Not many will know this unique massively-multiplayer first-person shooter for PC but it’s still going strong today with PlanetSide 2, a free-to-play title. The enormous scale of the game made every battle unique with hundreds of players from three factions sometimes converging on the same base and fighting for ownership. It was like Battlefield but set in the future with MMO mechanics and a persistent world where capturing territory wasn’t temporary like in round-based games, but an ongoing war that didn’t end until the servers were turned off in July 2016. I spent most of my online life playing just this game.
My fondest memories are of those times with my outfit, which was like a guild, and there was a strong sense of belonging to your faction which fuelled competition with players on other groups. I can still remember the in-game names of the top players on my server, called Werner, and one god-like player who was always at the top of the leaderboard. There still hasn’t been another online shooter with the same level of strategy and team-play as PlanetSide. Becoming a top-tier squad leader required experience points only earned through leading a successful squad. Once you reached the coveted command rank five, you received a powerful orbital strike and access to a channel where other leaders would agree where to strike next on behalf of hundreds of players.

I could probably continue down memory lane for much longer but I’ll leave it here. This list is only the tip of the iceberg for me, and I’ll probably remember some other significant games I wish I had included, but we can leave this for the comment section. Do any of these resonate with you? Are you from a generation in gaming before or after these games? Let me know below!

Bad dads of gaming

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday here in the UK, a weekend to spend some time with our dear old dads and show them a little appreciation. It’s my own dad’s birthday today too so it’s going to be a double-celebration – along with good excuses to eat plenty of cake.

Fathers are easy to find within video games: when they’re not upsetting their kids or being murdered during the first cutscene, they often serve as the protagonist’s major motivation or source of encouragement. Exploring twisted personalities is usually far more interesting than looking at nicer characters though and that’s why I’ve been investigating the worst dads in gaming. If you think your father is bad for his poor jokes and lame dancing, he’s got nothing on the guys on this list.

Warning: minor some spoilers (and exaggerations) are included below so if you haven’t played a title, you may wish to skip forward to the next entry.

Kratos from God of War

Kratos may have gone on an epic quest to save his beloved daughter, but he really let himself down when he subsequently slaughtered both her and his wife. He might have been tricked into doing by it by Ares but it doesn’t earn him a ‘World’s Best Dad’ mug on Father’s Day. If he’d spent more time at home with his family rather than running off and being a power-hungry warrior under the influence of the God of War, maybe things could have been different.

Thanks to Nathan for helping me out with this one!

Philip Holmes from Beyond: Two Souls

He may not be a murderer like most of the fathers in this list but when it comes to being heartless, Philip Holmes takes the gold medal. Not only does he take young adopted daughter Jodie to a research facility and tell her it’s for the best if she’s left there, he then moans as his wife when she tries to say a proper goodbye. The caring-dad façade drops even further when he calls Jodie ‘evil’ and a ‘monster’ when Aiden retaliates – you’re one cold man, Mr Holmes.

Heihachi Mishima from Tekken

A lot of dads want to prepare their sons for the future, but it’s not many who decide they should be able to survive being kicked off a cliff. Heihachi Mishima was one however and it turned out he was right; young Kazuya lived through the ordeal (although he ended up growing up with plenty of deep-rooted daddy-issues). Add to that Heihachi’s performing of experiments on his grandson and shooting him into space, and you’ve got a pure example of horrific multi-generational abuse. Simply shocking.

Thanks to Tim for helping me out with this one!

Bowser from Super Mario Bros.

The Koopalings were originally introduced as ‘Bowser’s seven kids’ in the instruction manual for Super Mario Bros. 3 but then in 2012, it was confirmed they aren’t actually his children. As if living through that drama and not knowing your true lineage wasn’t traumatic enough, the kids have faced years of bulling and being made to go up against the King Koopa’s mortal enemy. Someone who steadfastly believes that kidnapping a princess is key part of any plan clearly isn’t going to make a great father figure.

Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid

Fatherhood and a liking for world domination are never going to be a great mix. Through a genetic engineering program called Les Enfants Terribles, Big Boss fathered three sons before proceeding to try and kill them in a variety of daft battles. When one of your kids creates a terrorist group named Sons of Big Boss, whose members have received gene therapy in order to mimic your traits, you need to take a step back and seriously consider your life choices.

Andrew Ryan from BioShock

Let’s face it: Jack didn’t have a good start in life. During his journey through the underwater city of Rapture, he discovers he’s the result of a fling with an exotic dancer who was murdered by his father in a fit of rage when he found out she’d sold the embryo to his arch-nemesis. Jack gets exactly what he wants when he finally confronts Andrew Ryan during a nice round of golf – but in doing so, proves he’s as much of a disappointment as his dear old dad claimed he was.

Ethan Mars from Heavy Rain

All parents make mistakes and have been distracted at times but Ethan Mars seems to have a real problem with keeping his kids by his side in crowded environments. Youngest son Jason wanders off while his dad looks for change to buy a balloon, which results in him dying after he’s hit by a car; and other son Shaauuunnnn is kidnapped by the Origami Killer when Ethan falls asleep on a bench at the park. He then becomes more interested in getting it on with a hot reporter than rescuing his own child – how irresponsible is that.

James from Fallout 3

James believes in a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do kind of parenting. He tells you to stay inside the vault but doesn’t lead by example, fleeing to the surface without you; and it’s only when you escape after him that you realise he hasn’t prepared you for anything at all. When you finally catch up with James, he expresses his disappointment if you’ve recently nuked an entire town. But did he ever stop to think that if he hadn’t disappeared, you wouldn’t have felt the need to unleash hell? No, he didn’t.

You in Fable II

Congratulations, you’re a dad! But not necessarily a good one. After getting married and having a child, you can choose to shirk your new-found responsibilities by heeding the call of bouncing experience orbs and venturing out into the world once more. You could have stuck around at home and cycled through the expressions wheel with the wife, but no: you decided you’d rather go for The Party Animal achievement and get everyone in the inn drunk. How very irresponsible.