Dads are a tricky subject. Some are loving and inspiring whilst others absent and off hand. Some are communicative and open, whilst others are as hard to fathom as the depths of loch Ness. Some are in touch with their creativity and at ease with their feminine side, whilst others are purely manly. Although the people I've got to know through Family Gamer talk about their dads in different ways, they all seem to agree that they make up a big part of what it is to be a family.
However we do as fathers, or however we relate to our fathers, perhaps the most important aspect is to simple be there in each other's lives. With this in mind it's interesting that Wikipedia suggests the focus of Father's Day is about celebrating 'family-oriented activities' together, rather than the 'gift giving', 'flowers' or 'lie-ins' of mother's day.
Sunday June 15th 2008 is father's day in over 30 countries. And it's a great excuse to give Dad's something that compliments their social, game playing, fun instincts. Let's take a moment to pick out a few video games that should be a good fit for your Dad, or perhaps help your partner enjoy their Father's time with your kids.
Dad and Kids Rainy Day Fun: Here are some games for Dad to playing with the kids on those long rainy afternoons. These should work well both for gamer Dads playing with their offspring and for younger gamers looking for something suitable to play with their novice male-parental-unit.
- Wii Mario Galaxy: Ingenious Mario 3D platforming fun, where a second player can use the spare Wii-Mote to guard and assist the main player.
- Wii Lost Winds: Novel 2D platform game where two players can use their Wii-Motes to gust the character through the various platforming puzzles.
- 360 Viva Piñata: A game about gardening a fantastical island that has great dual-controls to let Dad jump in and help his progeny with some gardening know how.
Dad's Cave Time: Everyone needs time to recharge. And for Dads this is often once the family are all tucked up in bed. After dark with a beer or two, some snacks and a pair of headphones he can happily play the following games without worrying about rousing the rest of the house.
- PS3 Motorstorm: Breath taking deformable environments and a diverse range of vehicles, every petrol head Dad's dream.
- PS3 Uncharted: Dad can try his hand at being Indiana Jones. This action adventure game has some great script and storytelling that make it a real page turner.
- PSN Everyday Shooter: A rolling game of three minute levels each providing different abstract space shooting challenges. Think of it as a music album in video game form.
- 360 Assassin's Creed: Awe inspiring climbing, running and leaping around ancient cities. Throw in a sci-fi sub plot and you have the ideal late night game for Dad.
Dad's Commute to Work: Once the fun, family and feasting of the weekend are behind him, every Dad must face the road back to work. Why not ease his way with any of these handheld games that should make the journey pass a little quicker.
- PSP Football Manager: A football (soccer) management game that has all the fascination and addictiveness of the real Premiership.
- DS Advance Wars: Think of it as chess in war form – an ingenious balance of all the diversity and restrained of the battlefield. This turn based gem of a game is great to pick up and play on the train,
- DS Picross: Not only some brain stretching puzzles to solve here, but each one slowly reveals a miniature pixelated piece of art. Crossword and Sudoku Dads should love this.
Dad's Lad's Night In: Every Dad needs to let his hair down now and again. When the boys are over, it's time to shuffle Viva Piñata and Cooking Mama back under the sofa and get out the man games. Here are some body-checking, fist pounding, bloke-friendly games for when Dad has the boys round.
- 360 Gears of War: The absolute depiction of macho over the shoulder action. Dad can team up with his mates to stop-and-pop (run, shoot, hide, run) his way through the alien infested levels.
- Wii Tiger Woods 08: A sport for the more discerning men. This game's real life golf swing enables anyone to play. Dad can improve his handicap and hopefully sink a few birdies.
- 360 Rock Band: Places real life plastic guitars, drums and mic in the hands of the guys, so they can rock out together. Let them take out that hard week at work on the drums.
- 360 Halo 3: The peak of first person shooting games. Dad and the lads can team up to work the co-op war campaign, or go head-to-head online.
Dad's Play with Mum: Behind every great gaming Dad there is a great woman. And what better thrill can there be than to have her play along with you. Here are some games for Dad, which should also get Mum up off the sofa wanting to play as well.
- Wii Boom Blox: A Jenga like puzzle game, where Mum and Dad can use the Wii-mote to topple, slide, bowl and explode their way through some ingeniously designed levels. Hard to describe, but great fun to play.
- Wii Wii-Fit: The new phenomenon from Nintendo. It tracks your fitness and provides Yoga, Muscle, Balance and Strength games to help you along. This really is a game that Mums are often keener on playing than the Dads.
- DS Brain Training: Mum and Dad can improve and track their brain power. It provides some daily mental exercises and coaching that are surprisingly fun. Dads and Mums can compare their progress and compete on the Sudoku levels.
Dad's Misspent Youth: Dad wasn't always a Dad. The years before the family and commitments no doubt still hold the expectation and excitement of starting out in life. Why not give him a trip down memory lane with some of the games he used to play back then.
- 360 Pacman Championship Edition: Great re-imagining of the classic Pacman game. Not only does it provide new moves and ideas, but Dad can vie for position on the online score boards.
- DS Konami Classics Series: A great collection of those 10p eating machines from Dad's local arcade. Try mentioning any of the following to him and see if his eyes light up Scramble, Time Pilot, Track & Field, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Gradius and Contra.
- Wii Pinball Hall of Fame: The William Collection: Maybe Dad was more of a master of the Silver balls. This collection of Williams pinball games on the Wii benefits from recreating real world pinball machines.
- 360 Arcade Ikaruga: A little bit more recent but a superb modern interpretation of the shoot 'em up. If Dad liked 1942, Flying Shark or Tiger Heli then this would be a great present for him.
Hopefully one or more of these lists should suit the Dads in your life, and provide some inspiration for their Father's Day gift. I'll be back in a couple of week to talk more generally about Family Gaming. Until then why not have a read through my other columns.
Paul Govan - The Family Gamer