Last year, I wrote in my review for Horizon: Zero Dawn that I was really impressed by the main character Aloy. That statement still stands. She is a strong, dependable, caring female lead in a game. We’ve come a long way from the days where the most recognizable female in gaming was Lara Croft. She’s awesome, but lets be honest, she was designed for the guys. I used to have a calendar of her in my room, I was 11 at the time (cut me some slack). Lara has had quite a makeover though with the recent releases of the Tomb Raider reboot and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Her new design is more natural and fits that everyday girl persona. Don’t get me wrong, Lara was a bad ass character back in the day and I played the games religiously. It’s just everything she wore screamed sex appeal. I was young, I didn’t know any better. It was a fun game and the main character was hot (as hot as a pixelated character could look). Now, I’m 32 and I find that strong independent female main character in that current game I’m playing is a great role model for my daughter. Tracer, who is on the cover of Overwatch, was revealed to be a lesbian. Adding diversity opens up a whole new world of opportunities. It also allows like minded players to look up to the characters they play as. It wasn’t until Fifa 16 that they finally introduced women’s national teams. 23 iterations (I think, there’s a ton of Fifa games) it took before they finally put females in! At least it happened. Call of Duty has female characters now which is cool too. I honestly appreciate games when they include features like this. I want my daughter to be able to play a game and play a female character if she wants, not only does she enjoy it but it makes me happy. I understand not every game is going to have female leads in their stories, but if there’s an online feature for the game, try to include female characters for the ladies to play. Fun fact: girls play games.
There’s been quite a few leading ladies in games over the years that have won me over. One of my favorite characters is Lucca from Chrono Trigger. Lucca is an inventor and childhood friend of Crono. She has a tragic past involving her mother and there’s a side quest later on that can let you alter the events that have taken place in her past. It’s one of the more emotional stories in the game and something you shouldn’t pass up while playing. There’s also a section fairly early on in the game, where Crono is arrested for allegedly abducting princess Marle. It’s looking grim for Crono but Lucca ends up breaking into the castle prison to save him (such a badass). She usually makes witty comments at serious moments. Her relationship with Frog is hilarious. No matter how many times I play through it, she’s always in my party. Another of my favorites that comes to mind is Tiny Tina. (Fun fact: Ashly Burch, the voice of Aloy in Horizon, also voices Tina). She’s adorable, but an absolute psychopath in Borderlands 2. She steals the show whenever she’s present and her dlc is one of the best I’ve ever played. My fingers are crossed they bring her back for the 3rd one. It’d be a shame and waste not to have the world’s deadliest 13 year old involved in it somehow. Final Fantasy 14 has a large cast of memorable characters, a fair amount are female. My favorites include Y’shtola, Yda and Alisaie. Their characters evolve throughout the main scenario and Yda became quite the key character in the Stormblood expansion. I can’t wait to see where the story takes them next. Other memorable leads include Claire Redfield from the Resident Evil series, Faith Connors from Mirrors Edge and Clementine from the Telltale Walking Dead series. Not only are female characters making their mark in the games we play, but there are plenty of women shaping the game industry. Siobhan Reddy, studio director at Media Molecule, is responsible for the game series that my children are obsessed with, Little Big Planet. In 2007, Bonnie Ross founded 343 Industries. 343 has taken over the Halo franchise from Bungie. As Corporate Vice President of 343, she is helping to shape the Halo franchise for now, which is no small undertaking. Amy Henning, whos notable works include the Legacy of Kain, Jak and Daxter and Uncharted series, has been called one of the most influential women in the industry. If you’ve played any of those games, you know this statement stands true.
So today is International Women’s Day. The women I’ve talked about only cover a tiny fraction of the women involved in the gaming industry and the female characters in games. There’s plenty more we could talk about and plenty more that are on the way in the future. It’s amazing to see how far the gaming industry has come in the past 30 years and I’m excited to see how it evolves over the next 30. It’s always been about diversity and community to me. There’s still hurdles to overcome as far as equality goes, but we’re getting there. Now I know we are celebrating women today, but take the time everyday to appreciate the women in your life that matter most to you. Your mom, wife, sister, daughter. Appreciate the women who are making a difference in the world, big or small. I’d have to think it would be a pretty boring world without them. – NVJ
What are some of your favorite gaming heroines? Let me know!