After my recent post about Tomb Raider, my friend Arielle asked about what makes a female character strong.
@Jasyla_ Something that may be worth talking about is “what is a ‘strong’ female character” – at least to you
— Arielle (@ArielleEJ) July 4, 2014
I started writing a response and decided I needed to do some more critical thinking on the matter, and do some more thorough analysis of female characters in games. I asked Twitter to name some games with female protagonists, and the responses were great! I decided to compile all the answers into a big list. I also went through every game I’ve ever played and added a bunch of other titles.
If you’re looking for a game where the playable protagonist (at least one of them, if there are multiple) is a female, it’s a good place to start. I’m still filling in information as I go, like release date, genre, I might add the platforms the games are available on. If you notice any games I’ve missed, or disagree with any of my classifications, feel free to comment here, hit me up on Twitter, or add a comment to the spreadsheet.
I’ve excluded certain types of games from the spreadsheet:
- Games where you can make your character either gender. So, while Commander Shepard is an amazing female protagonist, the Mass Effect series is not included because whether you play as male or female, the character and story stays the same.
- Games where the character model is just a skin. Like Mario Kart (or sports games) – you can play as Princess Peach, but whether you’re female, male, koopa, or ghost, really has no impact.
- I’ve only included games where a female is the main protagonist (or one of them). In FFVII for example, Tifa, Aeris, and Yuffie are playable characters, but it is Cloud’s story.
I’m hoping to go somewhere with all this information, besides just having a list for reference (though I think it’s a pretty cool reference to have available).
Based on the quick analysis I’ve done of the games on this list I have played, or at least am very familiar with, I generally don’t have a problem with the way female protagonists are portrayed when they are the true protagonist. They drive the story forward by making decisions and acting on them. They sorta have to – they’re the leading characters. One exception I’m finding to this so far is the games like Bloodrayne or Lollipop Chainsaw. I don’t assume to be able to read the developers minds, but to me it seems clear that the leading characters were not made female to give women players something to relate to, or attract them to the game. They were made this way so straight male players could see TITS! And ASS! as they killed things. I watched a 2-minute gameplay trailer of Lollipop Chainsaw and I don’t think 5 seconds went by without me being able to see right up Juliet’s cheerleader skirt.
Anyway, for now I’ll keep picking away at the spreadsheet to make it more complete. I hope it’s useful for you and helps you discover some awesome new games to play.