Sunday May 14, 2017

Why is motherhood so badly portrayed in video games?

Mothers are rarely accurately portrayed in video games - if they're even portrayed at all.

Mothers are rarely accurately portrayed in video games - if they're even portrayed at all.

Listen 9:01

Seeing as it's the time of year when we celebrate mothers -- Happy Mother's Day, by the way! -- we thought we'd ask a question: why is motherhood so often poorly depicted in video games?

Kate Gray is game maker and journalist, who recently wrote about the representation of mothers in gaming for The Guardian.

Kate cites Dante's Inferno as an example of one poor depiction.

"

[The mother] gives birth to these demonic unbaptized babies with swords for hands and throws them at you," Kate says. "She's throwing her children at you. It's not a great depiction of a caring mother." 
Kate Gray

Kate Gray.

Kate points out how mothers are often portrayed as an absence. "To have a mother who's dead or missing or absent is a cheap way of making people have feelings," she says. "Very rarely are [mothers] the protagonist."

While there are several nuanced portrayals of fathers in games, why is motherhood so often portrayed so badly? "I think it's a multitude of reasons," Kate says, citing the lack of female senior game designers as one reason.

"A lot of time people think stories about motherhood won't sell because they think there aren't a lot of 30-40-something-year-old women playing games," she says. "And that is provably untrue.

"Maybe a bunch of guys shouldn't write a story about a woman without hiring a woman to do it."

How can mothers get better, and more accurate, portrayals in gaming?

"A huge first step is to get more women in the industry in every single discipline," Kate says. "And convincing women that despite all the horrible things they see being in the industry, that their work is worthwhile and important."