First off, let's just do every mom a favor and recognize that the "Wii Fit" Nintendo game is not — repeat not — a game designed for moms. Now sure, a mother is certainly entitled to play and enjoy a game that encourages exercise and activity. So are 20-year-old men. And a 70-year-old person in the process of transitioning genders. But no, not every woman with children is going to want to spend her extra time and energy doing power yoga with a remote in hand.
And perhaps this gets us to the question at hand: What exactly is a video game designed for a mom, and does such a thing exist? Because while we can cheerfully pretend that a "mom game" involves scheduling multiple carpools or walking through Macy's looking for a good deal, that's probably not a great idea. Moms — just like 20-year-old-men or 70-year-old transgender folk — are not a monolith. So for this article, we're going to suggest some games that moms might like, but keep in mind that 74 percent of moms say they play video games weekly; that means they're probably already playing all sorts of stuff [source: ESA].
Now let's get one thing clear before we suggest some titles: The answer to our question is pretty much ... no. Apparently studios and publishers haven't yet realized that moms are worth catering to, because there is pretty much zero representation for them in gaming marketing. Not even offensive gaming marketing, where advertisers attempt to convince us that moms would really like a game about flowers or putting on makeup. Nothing.
The only glimmer of hope is a game Kanye West has discussed creating, where his mother is the main character who is going through the gates of heaven [source: Fahey]. Which sounds super nice and sweet, but that's pretty much as close as we get to a "mom game." (But do note that the 2011 "Lost Souls 2" marketing campaign gleefully advertised that "Mom would hate it" [source: Benedetti]. Thanks for at least thinking of them, I guess?)
So what are we left with? Well, at least we have some games designed with women in mind — or at least not ignored. Although they aren't necessarily women with kids, it's a good start if Mom is looking for a game with female leads. One such game is "Left Behind," which is part of a series called "The Last of Us." You can play as Ellie, a 14-year-old girl who is designed to be not just an annoying sidekick, but a fully fleshed partner and lead in the apocalyptic story line. She even — gasp — has female friends she hangs out with [sources: Farokhmanesh; Hudson]. "Gone Home" is another game that involves a female protagonist, this time one trying to figure out the whereabouts of her missing family [source: Gone Home]. There's a relationship to unravel between the lead and her sister, and an exploration of family in general.
Of course, there's a whole universe of games that — as we said — aren't designed specifically for moms, but are ones that a mom might love. So don't just assume Mom wants to play "Bejeweled" and "Candy Crush" over and over. Who says Mom doesn't want to relax the same way we all do — killing zombies in a post-apocalyptic world?
- Benedetti, Winda. "Your Mama Plays 'Dead Space 2.'" Kotaku. Jan. 21, 2011. (May 19, 2015) http://kotaku.com/5739837/your-mama-plays-dead-space-2
- Entertainment Software Association (ESA). "Majority of Moms Play Video Games New Report Finds." Aug. 27, 2013. (May 19, 2015) http://www.theesa.com/article/majority-moms-play-video-games-new-report-finds/
- Fahey, Mike. "Kanye's Making A Video Game About His Mom's Journey Through Heaven." Kotaku. Feb. 22, 2015. (May 19, 2015) http://kotaku.com/kanyes-making-a-video-game-about-his-moms-journey-throu-1687300204
- Farokhmanesh, Megan. "How Naughty Dog Created a Partner, Not a Burden, With Ellie in The Last of Us." Polygon. March 22, 2014. (May 19, 2015) http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/22/5531146/the-last-of-us-ellie-was-designed-to
- Glasser, A.J. "Mommy Dearest: The Best and Worst Mothers in Video Games." Kotaku. May 6, 2009. (May 19, 2015) http://kotaku.com/5238770/mommy-dearest-the-best-and-worst-mothers-in-video-games
- Gone Home. "Gone Home Game." The Fulbright Co. 2014. (May 19, 2015) http://www.gonehomegame.com/
- Heyman, Stephen. "Women Get in on the Action in Video Games." The New York Times. Sept. 10, 2014. (May 19, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/arts/international/women-get-in-on-the-action-in-video-games.html?_r=0
- Hudson, Laura. "The Videogame That Finally Made Me Feel Like a Human Being." Wired. Feb. 27, 2014. (June 4, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2014/02/left-behind-women-video-games/