Representation of mothers in independent digital games

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Digital games
Maternal representation
Game design
Roguelike games

How to Cite

Kaya Alpan, Z. B. (2024). Representation of mothers in independent digital games. JOURNAL OF ARTS, 7(1), 29–42.


The purpose of this study is to examine how independent digital games portray maternal roles in terms of gender stereotyping. To achieve this, firstly gender roles and maternal representation will be discussed, followed by elements of digital game design and their relationship to narrative and gameplay, with a specific focus on Roguelike games. Finally, gender roles and stereotypes in independent digital games will be analyzed using a sample obtained from the period between 2013 and 2023. Roguelike games are digital games that offer mechanics similar to the 1980 game “Rogue.” Rogue is a turn-based, procedurally generated dungeon exploration game with ASCII graphics and permadeath mechanics. Games that draw inspiration from Rogue’s unique mechanics and incorporate some of these features are referred to as Roguelike or Roguelite games. The typical mechanics of this game genre have become popular game design elements among independent game developers in recent years. Due to the genre’s distinctive narrative and gameplay relationship and the widespread interest it has generated, a qualitative content analysis on games that feature meaningful maternal representation from a sample of Roguelike games published between 2013 and 2023 has been conducted. The sample consists of three digital games that belong to the Roguelike genre and feature maternal representation: Hades (2020), Children of Morta (2019), and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (2014). These three games were examined with a focus on the role of the maternal character in the narrative, the narrative relationship between the mother and the playable character, and the playability of the maternal character. The findings of the study reveal that there are different representations of mothers in independent digital games, including the obedient mother (Children of Morta), the monster mother (The Binding of Isaac), and the lost mother (Hades). This suggests that while there may be gender stereotyping in the representation of mothers in independent digital games, there is a wide variety of representations among indie games.


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