Parent characters in interactive fiction?

Do you guys prefer it when games include parent figures? As someone who doesn’t have a good relationship with their parents, it can take me slightly out of immersion if I’m forced to interact a lot with a parent figure that I frankly don’t care much about. I know it’s not that much different from starting a game with pre-established friendships, but it is different enough to make me struggle with relating to my character. I much prefer it when games leave your relationships with your family members ambiguous.

However, I understand that oftentimes relationships with family members are crucial to the plot and can’t exactly be done away with.

Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me?


I have a pretty good relationship with my parents, for the most part. But friendships are where I struggle, so pre-established friendships are something I do not really like. It can be frustrating to be forced to have a good relationship with someone I find annoying. So you aren’t alone in feeling that way.

Having said that, if any relationship plays a role in the story the player is usually given agency to determine what that relationship actually is. At least in interactive fiction.


Unless I’m playing as a very young character (high school aged and younger), I also generally dislike interacting a lot with parent characters in games. I think a sort of background “hi, mom” “be back home in time for dinner” “eh, fine” but largely absent parental presence works best for me, if it need be present at all. I don’t know if it’s because of my personal relationship with my parents, as in your case, but you’re not the only one!

Oddly, I’m usually fine with interacting with parental stand-ins, but not the parent characters themselves. The kindly aunt who you have to stay with for the summer, the old knight who takes you under his wing after your parents die–that sort of thing. No idea why, though!


Hmm… I’m going to monitor this thread closely, then :face_with_monocle:

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I have pretty rigid relationship with my parents and my parents’ parents, so it’s annoying when the parents figures didn’t have much presence but the MC is forced to have good relationship with them.

But in other case, when the parents figures were been written well and the interaction with the MC was sentimental, and the player was given the agency to decide how your relationships with them, I can’t help but always choose something like “we had problems before but now we are trying to mend that” or simple “we had pretty good relationships”, depends on how the parents reacted towards the MC’s behaviour, sometimes the parents would show they’ve been hurt by the MC’s cold reaction, and that hurt me too, fortunately now I know why, because these parents figures were usually been portrayed as good parents, so how could I still maintain my stoneheart when they were not deserved been treated badly.

Now I was thinking…would there be a game give you some abusive parents and also give you the chance to kick their ass…


Parents and kids in interactive fiction? Ugh. No thanks.


Coming from the very author of parents and kids the IF? Eesh eesh.

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As my mother is a narcissistic borderliner good relationships throw me off sometimes too. For me a prime example off how it should be is Psy High. You can even choose how you are staying to your parents.


Choice of Robots and Psy High both did it pretty well, I think. Which probably means that the principle is “your choice about your relationship to your parents should be proportional to their involvement in the plot.”

Your parents matter in Psy High, so they’re important enough that you need to be able to decide your relationship with and obedience to them. In Choice of Robots, Mom is a subplot at best, and most of your interaction with her involves, A, your graduation, and B, her cancer - so it isn’t a problem that she’s pretty proud of you.


I’ll have to keep an eye on this too — I’d planned for the MC’s parents to appear in my story, but if it turns out that’s something people hate… :sweat_smile:

Now that I think about it, the only CoG I’ve played where parents even show up is Choice of Romance, and then again their only role is to send you off to court.

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I generally feel weird when interacting with parent characters and don’t like to interact with parent-characters in games, partly because because same as you, and partly because they’re just not that interesting as characters in their own right most of the time. I do however enjoy interacting with parent-stand-ins as Rinari mentioned above because they do have a part to play in the story most of the time and respect MC enough to let them deal with their mess if they’re capable rather than always worrying about them inconsequentially.

Eesh eesh indeed. How daresth thou.


Honestly, i’m very ambivalent as i always depend what info was given beforehand or what i have gathered from multiple playthroughs.

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to be honest for me its the opposite lmao since i have a shitty relationship with my parents it kinda really makes me happy seeing supportive/caring/responsible parents in wips/games


I like having parents in fiction, if they were written wonderfully that is.
If they were gonna interact with the mc at least give them a personality.
If they’ll have a bigger part in the story maybe make them supportive of me or at least not get in the way

The fictional parents(at least the ones who are good parental figures) allow me to express my feelings to them and be happy about it, I think of them as perfect people that would always be there for me and would never hurt me. My relationship with my parents is ok, if anyones wondering.

Favorite parent characters:

  1. Rebecca from Wayhaven Chronicles. The way she is so busy but still manages to visit you and the way she is genuinely sorry for everytime she is absent. Interacting with her gives me that wholesome feeling of happiness. The way she shows shes happy whenever i get close to her or say to her that i understand the situation or hug her(the hugs are the bestest). I guess thats what makes her memorable for me

  2. myself from the parenting simulator(yes i am shamelessly saying i am proud and great parent here heheh)


I love that you brought up Wayhaven’s Rebecca. She seems very popular in the fandom, but I can’t stand her for similar reasons as the OP. Her neglect of the MC hit very close to my own parental issues. (We have a good relationship now but it took years and family therapy and a lot of us working out our shit).

I really appreciate Sera’s commitment to letting us choose how the course of the relationship goes. She’s a well written example of a bad parent that we have to interact with.


It depends on the execution. I’m ambivalent towards including parental figures in a story, to be frank.

Wayhaven Chronicles is the easiest IF that I can recall that had a parental figure. I didn’t mind it but I believe that was because I could interact with her as an adult. There was no power imbalance between the Detective and Rebecca that the latter could exploit. In fact, I felt like the Detective had a lot more leverage in the relationship since Rebecca still loves them and you can either reciprocate or deny it.

Through Broken Lense is the second IF with a parental figure, Daniel (IIRC; been awhile since I played it), but I didn’t feel there was a power imbalance between the two. In fact, I felt like the Daniel could only react to the MC’s actions throughout the story instead of the reverse.

If an IF had the parent-child relationship be where there is a power imbalance, then I’d probably be annoyed.

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Reading all the replies has me high-key stressed. The first part of my game has a heavy parent figure presence in it, the story is crucial to the MCs childhood and parents- and seeing how people don’t want parents or wants them to be barely involved kinda hurts.

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(slams hands on table) I LOVE IT!

I seriously wish more WIPs had parents to interact with. Psy High is one of my favorite games for several reasons, one of which is that I can have TWO whole ass parents who LOVE me. I absolutely love having parents in IF and I will never ever say no to having parents in an IF game.


Don’t let the replies in this thread discourage you. :slight_smile: It’s a very small sample size (there are, what, 10-15 people in here out of the thousands who could read your story?) answering a very specific question, and that small sample size is also more motivated to be more forthcoming with anti-parent responses because that’s essentially what the question is asking (“Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me?”)

It’s really not a good gauge on the general population’s actual thoughts, just a concentrated discussion based on OP’s question–and aside from that, it’s not anything to take personally! Just like a thread that says “I hate science fiction, does anyone else feel the same way?” shouldn’t be a deterrent for you writing a science fiction story, the responses here shouldn’t stop you from writing the story you want to tell. Everyone is different and you can’t appeal to all tastes; but more importantly, if you believe in the importance of your themes and characters, you shouldn’t compromise them based on a general discussion!