In celebration of International Women's Day yesterday, I think it's only fair that we collect and list some of the best female video game protagonists.
Things have changed so much these days in video games. I feel like there are just as many female protagonists as male protagonists—and it even seems like female protagonists are a trend right now.
And I just want to clarify that this is just a mere snapshot of how many women actually exist in video games, because there are plenty more. So here’s nine of my favorite strong female protagonists that kicked total ass in video games.
1. Jade from Beyond Good And EvilIn Beyond Good And Evil, the player takes control of Jade, who is a photojournalist working with the lovable pig-like character, Pey’j, to rescue orphans . Ubisoft wanted to create a woman who wasn’t a sex symbol, but rather a relatable woman with real aspirations and a true personality. You’ll notice Jade doesn’t dress in sexy clothing either, furthering the notion that real women don’t walk around in thongs and high heels every day, or have their boobs hanging out during an adventure. Honestly, it was a huge stepping stone for the portrayal of women in video games, creating the idea that women can star in a game without putting out a strong, sexual aura.
2. Kara From Detroit: Become HumanDetroit: Become Human is a fairly new announcement from Quantic Dream, the same studio that brought you Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Kara is an android that yearns to break free from the oppression of the humans on her kind in a futuristic Detroit setting. Kara exhibits a natural curiosity with a strong will to survive, and is by no means the stereotypical “sexy” video game female often criticized in other games. Kara appears intelligent beyond her own abilities and breaks the norm for how women used to be portrayed in some games.
3. Aloy From Horizon: Zero DawnAnother game not yet released, Horizon: Zero Dawn stars Aloy and her adventure in a world overtaken by robotic creatures. In an interview with GamesRadar, developer Guerilla Games commented on their inspiration for Aloy’s character, noting,
One of the directions we were very interested in was a character like Sarah Connor in Terminator, Ripley in Alien or, more recently, Ygritte from Game Of Thrones; very strong female characters. That’s where we started.
So of course two of the most badass women in all of entertainment were used as inspiration to develop Aloy’s character in Horizon: Zero Dawn.
4. Jodie From Beyond: Two SoulsIn Beyond: Two Souls, Jodie was played by popular actress, Ellen Page, and it was a major deal back then that the video game characters looked exactly like the actors in real-life. This was before other games like Quantum Break, which uses that same technology and puts the actor straight into the video game. Jodie is an interesting character, because she’s an outcast in society because of her attached spirit protector. As you watch Jodie grow up before your eyes in the game, you watch her become this strong and independent person who is driven to do what’s right—of course that also depends on the choices you make in the game.
5. Max From Life Is StrangeYou can tell from some of the decisions Max makes in Life Is Strange, that she has quite the set of balls. And I’m talking anywhere from sacrificing herself for a friend or standing up to the school bully (who has a gun, I might add). So yes, Max truly breaks all stereotypes of women in video games, from the way she dresses to the way she acts. She has a high level of awareness of those around her and feels for other around her. She is the prime example of the perfect protagonist in a game.
6. Lara Croft From Tomb RaiderOkay, let’s be real, Lara Croft had a shaky beginning. She was a living sex symbol for every game nerd in the 90’s. But today, Crystal Dynamics has evolved her into something very different. The first installment of the new Tomb Raider series depicted Lara as this inexperienced and vulnerable young woman trying to find herself in the world. And the best part is, she was no longer the Lara Croft only known for her boobs. She was the dawning of a badass, getting her grips on tomb raiding and a life of adventure.
7. Faith From Mirror’s EdgeFaith Connors is the protagonist in the series Mirror’s Edge. She’s described as an independent and self-reliant young woman who is out to stop the conglomerate that is taking over the City Of Glass. A rebel against the government, she is a Runner and is often caught up in messes trying to save the city. Very much like Lara Croft, Faith comes from an extremely in-depth background and grows into a woman who does just fine on her own. Strong female protagonists like her are pretty common, especially in today’s games.
8. Heather From Silent Hill 3In Silent Hill 3, Heather Mason is lucky enough to find herself caught between the living and the twisted hell of Silent Hill. While all of the protagonists before her in the Silent Hill series were male, she was a refreshing addition to the Silent Hill franchise. Despite being a victim of Silent Hill’s terrorizing grasp, you quickly come to admire Heather for having the balls to continue on after each monster attack. I actually found this game scarier than the first two in the series and I think it had something to do with the lighting—it just felt more dangerous because I couldn’t see anything. At the time of its release in 2003, it was nice to see a female protagonist in a survival horror game, very much like Jill Valentine of Resident Evil.
9. Samus from MetroidMetroid was first released in 1986, so obviously even in earlier days of video gaming, women were still portrayed as the main protagonist in games. Samus Aran is a bounty hunter traveling around the galaxy. Samus is known for completing seemingly impossible missions and is held up on a pedestal for her abilities. In other words, she’s a badass who gets work done.
While many people might complain that video games don’t have enough female protagonists, I look at many of the games I’ve played and think otherwise. And as we continue to go on into the future, I feel like that barrier will continue to blur and be broken, if it hasn’t been already.