It is sometimes hard to be a female gamer. I know, because I have been one for a long time. Sometimes, it feels like when developers are building games, they don’t keep us in mind at all. While the industry is getting much better at providing a gaming experience that we can enjoy, there have been numerous examples of games that could have had positive female representation, or even just something that I could have enjoyed, which was not there. I don’t want to deal with the manly man aesthetic when I go to Casumo casino, looking for a game to play and I don’t want to deal with a game that, while overall pretty okay, makes the female characters seem weak, without a will, or even just a vehicle for the player’s sexual fantasies. What I want to see in gaming are some strong female characters that are not made strong by the fact that they adopts male characteristics, but by the fact that they embrace their femininity and remain strong despite that. I want games that allow me to enjoy them through enjoyable imagery that is not overtly sexual, pandering to masculine desires or otherwise impossibly unbearable. This is why I wanted to create a list of a few games that present women as strong characters, that don’t need saving because they are prissy little princesses or because they are weak, but that can hold their own and still can get into trouble and need help. So, here goes. Quick note – I am going to skip Metroid because it is too obvious, and am going to stick to some of the more interesting games.
The Witcher is an RPG series that came out after the painstaking effort exerted by CD Project Red. The game follows a male main character that is trying to find a girl that is important to him. But, she is not a love interest, she is a friend, one that you get to play as during the game and one that has agency, has power and is incredibly interesting to play as throughout the story. But, she is not the only strong female in the game. While the Witcher can get a romance on with some of the characters we are going to be talking about within the game, they don’t feel like the romance is there for the sake of romance. The female characters are powerful in terms of actual power, and in terms of the agency, they have within their relationship with the Witcher. They choose to have a relationship with him, they choose to be in love or not be in love with him and, if the Witcher decides to take things a certain way, they choose to dump him. The way the women are written in this story allows them to embrace their femininity, their sexuality and does not take away the aspects of them that make them powerful, traditionally speaking, in the eyes of the players. A great way to portray female characters.
The main character of Mirror’s Edge is a female, and she is one that performs some amazing feats throughout the game. She is quiet, she is powerful, she in control and she is an amazing character to play as throughout the game. She has her own agency, she drives the story forward and she feels like an actual person, even though quite exceptional, without fail, throughout the story. It is great to see that a character like this exists within the world of gaming and was created by a team of developers dedicated to quality gaming. This is why I replay the game every once in a while – because it is a great game and because the main character feels actually important.
The Last of Us
Some of you might feel like this game does not have a strong female character, but I disagree completely. Ellie is a realistic female adolescent character put into a complicated situation where she needs to act in a way that facilitates the survival of herself and her *eventually* adoptive father. She faces some troubles throughout the story and yes, sometimes is portrayed as relatively weak and in need of help, but that is a realistic scenario. The main male character goes through similar story beats throughout the game. It is the realistic portrayal of the female characters that makes me so very in love with this game and how Ellie’s character is made. She is a real female character, and that is all that I ask when I play games. Don’t make women seem weak, don’t make women feel like they have no agency. Make them a part of the story and make them fit within the story without taking away their ability to be characters with relevance to the story, just there to be plot devices, Mary Sues, or other annoying tropes.