The Ten Best Video Games for Dad on Father’s Day

In case you need a friendly reminder, Father’s Day is approaching once again. On June 17th, millions of dads will wake up to ties, cards and decorative beer mugs for them to drown their unspoken gift disappointment sorrows with alcohol in.

But not your dad; not this year. This year, you are going to give dad the gift of gaming. In trying to help all sons and daughters with this task, I was shocked to discover that there are actually quite a few good games for dad available. While you can’t go wrong with classics like “Call of Duty,” “God of War,” “Uncharted,” or a genuine full-size arcade cabinet of “Cabella’s Big Buck Hunter,” these are the ten titles that I feel most dads would want most on their big day.

Red Dead Redemption

If you’re dad’s anything like mine, he can catch a Sergio Leone movie or “Unforgiven” rerun on TV with frightening accuracy and consistency. So what better gift than what is far and away the best western game ever made?

Whether it’s ropin’, ridin’, thievin’ or shootin’, your dad won’t need the letter “g” if you give him the game that lets him freely roam the west and re-enact his favorite moments from the great western genre. To make the gift even better, pack it in with the “Man with No Name Collection“, or the first season of “Deadwood” to insure that you put your dad in a deadly entertainment cycle that will be driving mom crazy for months to come.

Forza Motorsport 4

This is just a gimme. Featuring over 500 cars (well over half of which most normal people will never see with their own eyes) and an almost endless amount of customization, tracks, game options and other extra content, “Forza 4” is simply the greatest racing game ever made. Even if for some reason your dad isn’t a car nut (the odds aren’t great there), “Forza 4” is a game that is having so much fun with its subject that it basically becomes impossible to not get swept up in it.

The only way you can miss on this one is if dad doesn’t own an Xbox 360. Then your prospects get trickier. For PlayStation 3, you could always go for the stuffier but enjoyable “Gran Turismo 5” and just never let dad know there is a better option out there, and for the Wii there is always “Mario Kart.” Everyone loves “Mario Kart.”

Sports Games… Too Many Sports Games

I don’t want to make generalizations here, but I’m going to put the odds of your dad liking sports in about the 90% range. Obviously, if your dad has a favorite sport, it’s easy to get the appropriate game to match it. Football fans get “Madden,” basketball nuts go with the “NBA 2K” series, soccer hooligans go with “FIFA,” and so on.

However, if you want an easy out for the sports conundrum, just go with” Wii Sports.” I can’t explain it, but dads of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds love the hell out of “Wii Sports.” They seem to have no knowledge or care for how stupid they look, and just spend hours throwing fake bowling balls around. It’s a scary phenomenon, but there is no sense in denying the draw of this game with middle aged and above men.

Dead Rising 2

Look, I don’t want to be grim here, but I don’t want to have to kill a zombie that used to be my dad. I’m guessing you feel the same. But since there is going to be a zombie apocalypse, unless certain precautions are taken, you may have to face this horrifying situation.

My advice? Get him prepared. Get him “Dead Rising 2” and let him learn how to fight off insurmountable hoards of the undead with whatever may be lying around. Not only will he have hours of fun roaming around a pseudo Las Vegas and turning the old weed whacker into a device of mass destruction, but you will also be preparing him for the inevitable fate of the dead walking the Earth. So when the two of you are back-to-back one day with katana swords fighting off zombies, you truly will have the proudest dad alive for having gotten him ready.

From Russia with Love

This one is actually a last generation title, but its an essential game for dad. Because like most other men, your dad most likely made a sound decision at one point in his life that he would like to be James Bond. Unfortunately, it turns out that Aston Martins don’t handle that well, sleeping around that much internationally leads to strange new VDs, and it takes years in a government position for most people to just escape the mailroom.

Instead of watching dad drown his sorrows in shaken martinis waiting for the next Bond movie, let him finally live out his Bond dreams. “From Russia with Love” isn’t a perfect game, but it has the feel of a Bond movie down perfect. Plus, you get to play as Sean Connery, the one true Bond in most old school fans eyes. It’s worth digging out the old PlayStation 2 or Xbox for.

An Old School Classic

I grew up in an NES family. When we bonded, it wasn’t over a bedtime reading or a day trip, but rather a gathering around the old console. Whether it was getting murdered at failed “Contra” or “Battletoads” sessions, putting countless hours into “Dragon Warrior” in lieu of homework, or seeing if we could beat “Super Mario Bros. 3” without that cheap warp whistle trick, we were a gaming family.

If this applies to you, then the gift is simple. You search eBay for a cheap console of your choice with your favorite old school game to go with it, and you have it set up in the living room waiting to take dad back to those simpler times. Just make sure you stop off at Radioshack on the way for an adapter, though, unless you take a sick joy in wasting half of the day figuring out how to hook one of those old beasts up to a modern TV.

Grand Theft Auto IV

I’m sure your dad tried to do right in raising you. He taught you moral guidelines, he worked hard for his living, and probably even took you to church once or twice. However, probably due to the patriarchal tones of “The Godfather,” I’m betting your dad secretly hoped for a turn of events that would force him into the world of high profit organized crime to support his family.

Much as the rest of the world found out with the overnight success of “GTA: III” in 2001, this series is the perfect way to harmlessly live out those criminal urges. While your dad may initially feel overwhelmed by the size and scope of the game, once he figures out that most issues can be solved with a baseball bat, he’ll probably find himself as hopelessly addicted as millions of others have. Bonus points if you snag the “Complete Edition” that includes the “Lost and the Damned” content that will let him finally join that motorcycle gang.

Portal 2

Maybe “Portal 2” doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you’re thinking of dad games, but it definitely should. You could fool him at first into thinking that it’s going to be a shooting title, only to let him slowly be drawn in by the unique concept and level design while the game’s unrivaled sense of humor keeps just about anyone playing just to see what the next gag is going to be. Plus, even if he doesn’t usually get into puzzle games, he’ll probably feel the classic fatherly urge of one-upsmanship take over and will end up beating it in an effort to prove that you’re not smarter than your old man.

The best reason to go with “Portal 2,” though, is the co-op. While I spent hours of my youth trying to awkwardly catch and hit a baseball to spend time with dad, this new age has offered us the better option of letting you two try to mutually work your way out of the world’s most complex rat maze.


Considering that it’s one of the greatest and most important titles of this generation, I don’t think I need to go into detail on why everyone should play this game. Here’s just a few specific reasons why dad needs to play it:

1. He probably doesn’t get around to playing many games that challenge the “games are art” debate. So this is a chance to expand his horizons without trying to find the best way to discreetly wrap some LSD.

2. He probably can’t help but admire the parenting skills of the Big Daddies in the game, and when he eventually has to take them down, you get a chance to prove that your dad can actually beat up any other dad.

3. Since “BioShock: Infinite” is now delayed until 2013, whenever you need to start up a conversation with the old man, you can call him up and share just how much that sucks.

Rock Band

All right, all right, I admit that this game and the genre are a little played out. But besides being able to snag the whole set cheaper now that the craze has died down (ideally), the real value of this game comes in its ability to get the whole family together having fun just like dad was always trying to do.

Then, of course, when its late at night and no one is around, dad can sneak into the living room, tie up the old headband and rock out to “Shooting Star” just like he used to. While mom may not appreciate him inviting the guys over to play in order to get the band back together one more time, dad certainly will, and this is his day after all. Plus, he did give up on his music dreams in order to support his family, so you can’t forget that.


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