As much as it shouldn’t be the case, video games are often seen as strictly men’s endeavor. It doesn’t help that despite the popularity of the medium, female representation could still be better in video games. Even within that small number, many female characters still suffer from issues such as fridging (killing off a character for the men’s development), sexualization, and the “strong female character” syndrome (making a character physically strong, but not much else).
Despite this, there’s still a lot of female protagonists that gamers can look up to. Some of them are physically strong, some of them don’t fight, but lead, and some of them are unlikely heroes in their own games. No matter how different they are, they all have a similar quality: all are compelling and amazingly written for gamer girls to admire and be like.
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Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
We can’t have a list of awesome female protagonists in video games without Lara Croft. Though her background has gone through several changes, her expertise in archaeology, physical prowess, and hunger for adventure has remained intact. Through her character, gamers can vicariously live out her adventures, with all the thrills and dangers included. For non-gamers, the image of Angelina Jolie or Alicia Vikander is probably the first thing that comes up when they hear her name. No matter how you know her, her fierce determination and strong survival skills definitely put her up there among other brilliant female characters in games.
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Yuna (Final Fantasy X)
Yuna is one of the playable characters in Final Fantasy X. A summoner tasked to summon aeons to defeat Sin, Yuna is quite well-known for breaking tradition to beat Sin once and for all. Rather than choose any of her guardian friends to sacrifice, she decides to kill Sin for good, spreading peace in the land of Spira. Her loyalty to both her friends and her duty without any compromise makes her a great character with a compelling arc. She’s also proof that a female character doesn’t have to be brash and violent to become a strongly-written one.
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Ellie (The Last of Us)
Ellie, along with Joel, is one of the main characters of The Last Of Us franchise. She serves as the daughter figure of Joel who’s just as good a survivalist as he is amid the zombie outbreak. Her character defies many stereotypes, as even though she’s young, she’s crass, violent, and fearless. She doesn’t feel like a damsel in distress, as she ends up saving Joel as much as he saves her. She’s also one of the few LGBTQ+ characters in video games, as evidenced by her relationship with her friend Riley in Left Behind.
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Samus Aran (Metroid)
Samus is a unique character in that the game wasn’t explicit about her being female until after the player beats it under certain conditions. It was an iconic move at the time, as her Power Suit covered her from head to toe and didn’t indicate anywhere that she was a woman. This was a way for the developers to subvert expectations, as typically, armored female characters still indicated that they were female. This was seen through skin reveals, exaggerated breastplates, and the like. Since then, Samus has had forms where it’s obvious she’s a woman such as her Zero Suit which has her without a helmet. Still, her reveal is considered an iconic moment in video games.
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Clementine (The Walking Dead)
If you’re more familiar with the comics and the show, Clementine probably doesn’t ring a bell as a video-game only character. However, she’s on this list because at a young age (8 years old!), she shows a maturity and sense of leadership as compared to the adult characters of the game. She doesn’t let her age hinder her capabilities, and comes out on top in the bleak post-apocalyptic world her game is set in. Clementine also shows significant character development throughout the game’s timeline, exhibiting a hardened exterior and losing her naivete and innocence.
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Kassandra (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey)
In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players get a chance to play as either of the two siblings, Alexios or Kassandra, within an Ancient Greek setting. When you play Kassandra, you are essentially playing the canonical version of the events, as the official novelization has her as the protagonist. She has the typical characteristics of an Assassin’s Creed protagonist, with great battle skills and determination needed for a mercenary like her. Despite her seemingly hard exterior, she also has a soft side, as seen with her young protege Phoibe.
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Madison Paige (Heavy Rain)
Madison is one of the main characters of the interactive game Heavy Rain. She is a journalist who suffers from insomnia, and takes on the Origami Killer case. Though her character isn’t shown to be physically strong, she goes through several challenges to solve the case of the Origami Killer. Her bravery and resolve to help Ethan Mars find his son’s kidnapper is what makes her an amazing character. Just make sure you choose the right answers so she doesn’t die before reaching her peak!
Image courtesy of Uncharted Wiki
Chloe Frazer (Uncharted: The Lost Legacy)
While Nathan Drake is the main character of the Uncharted series, Chloe Frazer gets her chance to shine in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. She serves as a foil to Nathan, what with them both being action-oriented treasure hunters, but with Chloe being more business-centric and morally grey. Despite this, she ultimately comes out as a hero in the end. This, in addition to her more openly sexual personality, helps in subverting stereotypes of women as meek and conservative. She’s definitely anything but.
If you look through the list of female protagonists in video games, you’ll definitely meet a lot more characters that are deserving of respect and reverence. With this, it’s important for games to improve their narrative to be more inclusive of strong female characters. While it seems inconsequential at first, women seeing themselves represented positively would improve the overall representation of women in the media. And who knows? The increase in amazing female protagonists may result in the old stigma that video games are for men only.