There are many female video game characters out there for everyone to enjoy. And you don’t have to search hard to find them.
The video game community on Twitter went up in arms today, and I thought it was just something stupid someone had said. Being who I am, I decided (bad idea, I know) to see what the problem was and what I found shocked me. Well, not really, but it bothered me because of the amount of misinformation I had noticed.
There was a recent Bloomberg article from All Places that talks about video games and apparently thinks for good reason that there is a lack of positive female portrayal in games. After researching and reading it, the coin is everywhere. We talk about the toxic nature of Activision-Blizzard, with whom I co-sign. But then the play seems to jump into a whole different subject and completely skip the shark.
Now, I’m not the type to try to blow up a fellow gaming journalist. At the same time, I won’t let false information like this spread because I know how damaging it can be. I have been involved in many debates on the internet regarding women if they belong to video games, and believe me when I say; they were bad conversations. These are conversations that I’m more than happy to report belong to the game and the game is all the better for them when they are included. Sure, I’m a guy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about representation in video games, whether it’s gender, race, or nationality.
So this piece, to be frank, really frustrated me. I imagine anyone working for Bloomberg would at least review the piece and have it peer reviewed. There’s no way someone who claims video games lack female characters will actually believe him. Can they? To me, it’s disrespectful to those who pushed and fought for these female characters to be created that we all encountered while playing in the first place.
Honestly, the entire article reads more like a piece of plush for PlayStation’s Horizon Zero Dawn and the upcoming sequel, Horizon Forbidden West. Games featuring a well-known female character, Aloy. A character who was celebrated because of his design and his positive influence. She’s great, and I’m not trying to take anything away from Aloy, but it looks like this Bloomberg piece was written by someone who doesn’t play a lot of video games or someone who chooses to ‘ignore the large (and still growing) list of positive and popular female characters in video games.
Instead, they choose to put one in a positive light while also bringing up several others and making them reject them because they have a certain sexualization. One character, in particular, is the popular Umbra Witch Bayonetta – a character who was nonetheless conceived by a woman; Husband Shimazaki. If you don’t know who she is, look for her.
As for the lack of representation of female characters in video games, I don’t see it. There are a lot of them, and I’ve experienced quite a few in my long playing history. Here are a few of those characters.
- Alyx Vance – Half Life 2, Half Life: Alyx
- Chell – Gate 1 and 2
- Chun-Li – Street Fighter Series
- Samus Aran – Metroid Series
- Fran – Final Fantasy XII
- Max and Chloe – Life is Strange
- Jonna Dark – Perfect black
- Princess Zelda / Sheikh – The Legend of Zelda
- Aya Brea – Parasite Eve
- Red – Transistor
- Eivor Varinsdottir – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Kassandra – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Blaze – Streets of Rage / Bare Knuckle
- Sarah Kerrigan – StarCraft
- Jill Valentine – Resident Evil Series
- Claire Redfield – Resident Evil Series
- Ellie – The Last of Us
- Tifa Lockhart – Final Fantasy VII
- Claire “Lightning” Farron – Final Fantasy XIII
- Juliana Blake – Death Loop
- Faith Connors – The Edge of the Looking Glass
- Commander Shepard – Mass Effect
- Senua – Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice
- Selene – Return
- Nadine Ross – Uncharted 4 – A Thief’s End
- Chloe Fraser – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
- Elena Fisher – Uncharted
This is a very small list of female video game characters that we have all enjoyed at one point or another. Female characters who are either the main character in a game, or a major character, or a character who made such a lasting impression that we would never forget them. I made sure to forget about the characters that people would say are too sexy to make the list – and I know that’s a strong positivity. Still, every name on the list rejects the “Damsel in Distress” trope and can easily replace any strong guy in a lineup.
It also bothers me that the author of said play has completely disrespected the icon of the game, Lara Croft. Sure, the original character pushed the line to be sexy, but she also helped usher in a new era of gaming. The Tomb Raider games featured a no-frills British character who was big on action and got us going. provided some damn good gaming experiences. Of all the gaming characters in the world, Lara Croft is the one who demands respect for everything the character and the Tomb Raider series have accomplished.
Lara Croft is a character who has been celebrated countless times for being an icon. A character that everyone can relate to, and not because she is sexualized. I would even say that without Lara Croft, we wouldn’t have seen so many female characters in our video games. This includes Aloy, a character who shares several similarities with Lara Croft outside of wielding a bow. To disrespect Lara Croft, I’m just showing myself that this particular author is totally ignorant of the game – or click fishing.
Let this author say that “Characters like Aloy remain too rare among mainstream games. As a video game enthusiast, I find it uncomfortable playing flagship titles like Tomb Raider, Genshin Impact, or Bayonetta, which all feature female characters in skimpy outfits. This confirms my initial thoughts. For starters, they haven’t played any of the Tomb Raider games. Including reboots – unless wearing shorts or cargo pants is now considered skinny. I mean, where’s the last time Lara Croft wore something slightly skinny?
When it comes to mainstream games, I guess he hasn’t heard of any of the games I’ve mentioned before. Including the award-winning Returnal which featured a strong-willed female protagonist who finds herself stranded on an alien planet. Fighting not only the planet, but his own mind in a test of intelligence and survival. Or Metroid Dead, or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, or Deathloop.
You can see where I’m going here.
Speaking of looks, I also have a problem with that. Where is it said that female video game characters can’t be powerful, demanding, encouraging, and having the ability to save the world because they look like a role model? It’s a recurring theme, but when it comes to men it’s okay. So why must he be any different from women? I have news for you, not all of us six 6’3 with 2% body fat and abs of steel. Still, that’s how the males are presented.
This conversation comes up far too often, and it is high time we got over it. People come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I have seen gorgeous, dead women who are police officers, paramedics, cashiers, lawyers, teachers, boxers, and MMA fighters. This notion is outdated and no longer has its place in the game or in life. Heroes, saviors, and complete badass can be anyone. However, I agree that going too far, as we’ve seen in several games, is also a problem. What’s ironic is that this Bloomberg piece pushes Aloy and frowns on sexualization and body types. Still, the character’s facial features are inspired by actress and model Hannah Hoekstra.
As for Aloy, again, she’s great, but she’s not the first, and that’s perfectly normal. She’s one of the video game icons that people can relate to over the past few years, but she’s not the only one. Instead, she joined a long list of female video game icons that I’ve already enjoyed the company of while playing. Female game icons have made video games a better place for everyone, and we’re lucky to see that the game has matured to the point where companies are ready to include female characters in their video games.
If you’re convinced that it’s rare to find a worthy female character in mainstream and indie video games, there might be a reason for that. However, you either play the wrong games or you don’t play video games at all. Because I find it highly suspicious that anyone who makes video games these days has not come across the list of characters I have already mentioned. If so, it’s a fucking shame and needs to be fixed immediately.
Finally, I’m always ready to talk about this important conversation about games. Or any gaming conversation that needs to take place. You can reach me here or on Twitter – I welcome the speech.