I’m going through another hidden object game at the moment, squirreling my partner’s tablet away in my nest of duvets and running the battery down as I collect the requisite nonsense to advance through the plots. As I’ve worked my way through titles from the Witches’ Legacy series and Nightmares From The Deep, it’s just been really pleasant to play as mums. All of the games I’ve played recently in the HOPA/HOG (hidden object puzzle adventure/hidden object game) genre have revolved around a mum saving a daughter. In the case of Nightmares From The Deep 3: Davy Jones I was saving my daughter from an eternity of maid service to said pirate after she got kidnapped during my museum press conference. Witches’ Legacy: Slumbering Darkness has you trying to save your witchy daughter and her husband from a sorcerer’s machinations. Witches’ Legacy: The Ties That Bind has your witchy daughter and you trying to save your future son-in law from a trap. Witches’ Legacy: Hunter And The Hunted has you saving your kidnapped daughter from a bunch of witch-hunters.
Obviously I’m playing from the same couple of series at the moment so I’m playing as recurring protagonists, but the sensation is one I always enjoy coming back to these games – settling down with a bunch of female voices and characters alongside my cup of tea and object-manipulating relaxation.
If you’re wondering why this might be, that genre tends to skew female with its player base and the games tend to have a holiday read mystery novella flavour to them. Consequently women crop up as protagonists and as secondary characters a lot more frequently than in other genres.
That’s not to say they’re particularly complex people most of the time because that’s not what the genre is about – think Harlequin romances or airport fiction where the characters and their motives are writ bold and large and plot developments arrive because that’s where the plot development always arrives. The mum wants to save her daughter in all of the adventures I mentioned earlier and her parental bond is a thing which provides an easy shorthand for the lengths one person will go to in order to rescue this other person.
I also don’t remember the last time one of these mums was a woman of colour or anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. It’s a genre that, from my experience (cherry picking things that are highly rated or involve sea creatures) seems to skew very much towards white middle class heteronormativity.
So HOPAs/HOGs are not without problems if you want to talk broad representation but, gosh, I do really love just casually scrolling through and seeing so many games with a female lead every so often.