An aspect of gaming sorely missed at times is the intrinsic value of a world completely separate from our own. Not in the metaverse idea where you're just forced into a digital representation of reality for no good reason, but a world truly separate, a chance to experience something you'd never see in reality, or in a different light than you would otherwise .
So while many games can focus on combat, or open worlds or puzzles, some take pleasure in the little things, in the rather diverse concept of "family". It may be by blood or by law. It may be a found family, or it may just be the connections you've made along the way. Be it at the core of the game or simply another aspect, family can manifest in many ways.
Updated August 16, 2022 by Hilton Webster: New games come out every day, from the kind that let you build a cult, to those that let you run the length of an entire planet. Sometimes though, the best thing is still the comfort of a digital family, be it a specially curated group you've spent years with, or your own unique inventions you can craft a world around. There's nothing quite like it, so we've added some more games where you can have a family.
13 The Guild 2
The Guild 2 is a fascinating blend of genres, from a life sim like The Sims, a grand medieval experience like Crusader Kings all the way to an intricate business management game stretching across its length. It's a truly unique experience, if not a little niche and clunky, but with all the whimsical joy only a blend of those genres can create.
The simple goal of the game is to create your own dynasty, and make sure it's the strongest by the time the game ends. You can get married, have children, and pass on the torch, but you can also form rivalries and create your own business. You'll have to defend it from those aforementioned rivals though, and stretch your family across as much of the world as you can to keep the gold flowing — and your dynasty thriving.
12 final fantasy 9
You've heard of Final Fantasy already, just about everyone has. Each and every entry in the prolific series of RPGs is as different as they're the same, only loose threads tying them together. Final Fantasy 9 is special for plenty of reasons, from its music and combat, to its beautifully designed world. What's really special about FF9 though are the characters, and the bonds between them.
FF9 focuses on what initially seems to be a group of anyone and everyone who don't really mix, and they don't. Not at first, anyway. How these characters unravel layers of themselves, showing they never truly had comfort in their own lives until they all stumbled into each other. is extremely powerful. It's a heartwarming sensation few other entries in the series can match. They're a family to each other, where no other existed.
The XCOM series may have started as very different games from what they are now, but becoming turn-based strategy games really elevated them to another level of success. The more recent XCOM games are known for their brutality, and the sequel didn't do much by way of easing that. Each and every unit is valuable, and can die — even with what seems like a guaranteed shot.
The ties between characters were only metaphorical, originally. However, whatever stories you experienced with them yourself, the War of the Chosen led to them beginning to form relationships between one another. These bonds made them all the more powerful when fighting alongside one another, but also could cause a mental break if that bond was forcibly broken. Those bonds of family don't just affect your victories anymore, but the individuals securing them.
10 The Sims
Perhaps the most literal in being able to build a family, The Sims as a series has been running for a long time, and the core basis of simply simulating life in a slightly exaggerated way has always been its shining feature. And though the monetization practices are by all means predatory, there's a joy to being able to create a diverse life.
There's no goal to The Sims. Quite simply, you just live. Be whoever you want. Pursue love, climb the ranks at your job, adopt a pet, or watch some movies. You choose how you want your life to go, which is some small comfort in the current world. And for many, that might come in building a family of your own, be it the spouse and children, or just a pet and some friends.
If you can give Peter Molyneux anything, it's that he's the world's greatest hypeman, and only to the detriment of his own games. Case in point, Fable. The Fable series are incredible RPGs, but claims of trees growing in real-time (they don't) tend to dampen the actual joys of a world that is genuinely reactive to your actions.
Strikingly ahead of its time, Fable 2 let you pursue a wide variety of relationships. Every character had their own sexuality, you could get married, have children, or even just make some drinking buddies. Buy yourself that nice house in the city and decorate it however you want. You're the hero, but you still need a life outside the adventure.
8th Crusader Kings
This comparison is going to sound wild, but Crusader Kings genuinely shares a great many features with The Sims. There's no true goal, inherently. You just live your life as whatever character you pick across the vast map or even one you make yourself. You can tell yourself the real goal is to amass a great empire, but did the game really tell you to do that?
In Crusader Kings 3 especially, relationships are all the more important. Your spouse will feature in many events in your life, as can childhood crushes. Maybe you'll make a friend on the battlefield who'll become near and dear. A pet may enter your life, a much-needed de-stressor. Your legacy is important, sure, but you get to decide just how much you care.
7 Empire Of Sin
When we walk about family, the concept is admittedly wide, a vast array of relationships we can form throughout life. And then, there's "The Family". Empire of Sin puts you in the boots of one of many mobsters, be they real or fictional, to build your own Prohibition-era empire, defending your turf from rival gangs.
An interesting aspect of Empire of Sin is the randomness of your gang members. There's also a degree of preset features, but some can always change, making each member a little unique on every run. But like any family, you're a close-knit group, each of you essential to the empire, be it in battle or business.
6 Rune Factory
Originally released as a Story of Seasons spin-off, Rune Factory eventually evolved into a series of its own. Rather aptly described by its creator as "Harvest Moon where you wield a sword", Rune Factory has many of the same farming aspects, as well as dungeon-crawling elements, all balanced out by rune points.
And yet despite being more story and combat-focused, Rune Factory fully invests in you having a life of your own to live out. You save the day, sure, but you still have to manage the farm at the end of the day. And as time goes on, and you build some friendships, maybe that'll even blossom in love. And for the first time in 5, you're finally allowed some queer marriage of your own.
At this point, Skyrim is whatever you make of it. Having been in existence for over ten years with countless mods, the game truly can be whatever you want. But speaking from the base game and its DLC, Skyrim actually has a funny amount of content to its family systems, with mods only making it better.
In the base game, you could of course get married (though not divorced, unless you went the Henry VIII route) and have them join you in your home and even as a companion. But with Hearthfire, you can build your own house, move your family in, adopt some children, and grow crops. It's a lot like Rune Factory, actually!
4 mafia 3
Now we've talked about the concept of family extending to, you know, the mafia. But in a rather humorous twist, Mafia 3 doesn't feature you as a member of the actual mafia, but a rag-tag band of rebels enacting justice in a world so lacking it. Protagonist Lincoln Clay instead established his own family.
Though Mafia 3 is maybe not the most inspired in terms of gameplay, it hammered home the point that a found-family formed on shared ideals was one much stronger than one ruled through fear and hierarchy. And in a game depicting the racism of the time, it's important to show established structures are far from the best.
3 Stardew Valley
For many people, life is a lot, and at times too much to handle. And Stardew Valley offers you a simple solution. Drop that dreamy life where you're just another cog and settle into a smaller community, one where you can really make a difference and stand as your own person. Farming games really love telling you that you matter.
In the eponymous Stardew Valley, you run the farm left to you by your grandfather all the while making connections with the surrounding village. There's no real goal other than to make your grandpa proud, and the game makes sure you can never make an irreparable mess of your farm. So go out there and marry whoever you want (Sebastian) and just have a good time.
2 The Mass Effect Trilogy
One aspect of Bioware's RPGs that has always been praised, the one element that has always been shone despite any other failings, has been their characters. And though this is great across all their games, the single story of the Mass Effect trilogy makes it the best to experience.
Though you are of course the hero of the tale, the true moments of joy in Mass Effect come in your interactions with your companions. You spend years with them, both in-game and real life, having grown with them as a person. You see them evolve in their writing, and whether you romance them or not, they're family. Citadel is a testament to that.
And now going in a completely different direction, the turn-based strategy phenomena Fire Emblem. True enough, you can romance a great many people in Fire Emblem, and form great relationships with many others, and even between them. And that is enough in and of itself, but not exactly where the Fire Emblem games choose to stop.
In many of the games, Three Houses excused, you can have a child with your beloved (same-sex marriage of Fates excluded, unfortunately) who will, well, grow up into a unit of their own. That can die, you should let that come to pass. Though odd to see people soft-hand debate eugenics on how to create the perfect child, by all means, it is still family.
NEXT: Most Iconic Families In Video Games