March is Women’s Month and we wouldn’t miss this chance to talk about games that make every woman proud. We here at Speed believe that we should celebrate female gamers and female representations in video games–not just this month, but all year long.
Let’s face it, the gaming community has always been a very sexist, male-dominated arena. A quick look at the gaming conventions will give you hoards of men swarming the venue, and more men taking the stage to talk about what’s new and what’s hot. Games, as well, have been very good at male-gazing their female characters. Who in the world battles monsters in a swimsuit? Why is it always the helpless princess who needs saving?
While I, myself, enjoy the female form and the sexy costumes that we get to play with, and particularly see meek female characters kawaii, we’ve got to give it to the games that regard a certain respect to their female characters.
Here are some of my favorite standout female characters and the games that gave birth to them.
Okay, the character of Lara Croft may have always been controversial, alternating between sex object and female hero, but there is no single franchise featuring a female lead that has been more successful than Tomb Raider. The fact that a female video game lead can create a series of high-grossing games for all platforms, successful live action spinoffs, and even grab a number of Guinness Book of World Records (one of them, a “Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Lara Croft” award), you’ve got to admit that Lara Croft deserves to be the icon of a video game heroine.
Resident Evil wouldn’t have been the big hit that it is if not for Jill Valentine, one of the most likeable and consistent characters in the franchise. She is one of the less sexualized female characters in video games, has consistently appeared throughout the franchise (she was a major character if 5 Resident Evil titles), and has always been just as competent and skilled as her male counterparts.
She is probably my favorite female character of all time. Her features are strong and sharp—just like how she fights. She doesn’t need to show too much skin to look hot, her fighting style is just a beauty to behold, she has the most beautiful shade of pink hair I’ve ever seen, and she doesn’t need a love story or romance arc to make her interesting. While Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t the best in the Final Fantasy lineup, Lightning’s character alone was a win in Square Enix’s endeavor to create a strong female lead.
I’ve always been a fan of Kitana ever since I played Mortal Kombat on the PlayStation. I was a young girl then, and seeing the pamaypay used not as a feminine accessory but as a weapon made me fall in love with this character. Strong female antagonists also have a sense of power to them, and Kitana started out as that. But she has an interesting story arc that transforms her from evil princess to vengeful warrior, after finding out about the betrayal of the man she believed was her father and then joining the Earthrealm to free her mother Sindel.
Tracer and the rest of the Overwatch girls
Overwatch was a game-changer in many aspects in the world of first-person shooters, that’s why it’s no surprise that almost four years into its launch, it still has a robust online and competitive community. But in the subject of female representation in video games, Overwatch is certainly one of the most outstanding games ever made. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing every single female character in the game, spent time watching and reading tons of materials about the Overwatch lore, and never did I encounter a single instance where my feminist sensibilities were offended.
Every female character in Overwatch was mindfully created, clothed with suitable armor for their roles, and given moving backstories that don’t necessarily deal with ex-lovers, failed romances, or being a damsel in distress. Each Overwatch girl represents a strong female character in our life, a beautiful trait inside all of us, and the ability to stand up and fight for ourselves when faced with something that threatens our principles or family.
I’m singling out Tracer because she has been an effective icon of the Overwatch gang, but I have to give it up to Zarya, Widowmaker, Symmetra, Sombra, Brigitte, Mei, Moira, Pharah, Ana, Ashe, Orisa, and Mercy for being standout female models in the realm of video games.