The Top 5 Females in Video Games
A little while back, I posed the question on Twitter: “Who are some of your favorite female characters in any game?” The response I got was unbelievable, and also spurred a substantial debate over which female characters deserve praise and which do not. With this in mind, I wanted to share my personal top five female characters in a video game series. To keep things fair, I capped it at one character per franchise.
1. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Let’s start off with one of the most, if not the most, important female characters in a video game series. Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series have been extremely successful, with multiple games and live-action movies. We were first introduced to Lara in 1996 and she has gone through multiple changes over the years; however, her overall look and skill set has remained the same.
Lara is everything I like and want from a female character in a game. She is in charge of her own adventure, she decides where and what she wants to do, and she does it. Remember, prior to Lara we never really had a female lead protagonist, and females were typically in need of “rescuing”. The Tomb Raider series took that and created a strong female character who uses guns, solves puzzles, and collects treasure, all on her own, because she wants to do it.
In the earlier days, Lara became a sex symbol as the focus was on her body and sexualizing her looks. But, I am very happy to report over the years that the focus has been less and less about her looks and more and more about what she can do, with no signs of slowing down.
2. Chloe Frazer (Uncharted)
Without characters like Lara, there would not be Chloe. We first meet Chloe in Uncharted 2, when she is invited to join Nathan Drake and Harry Flynn on a mission to steal an artifact from a museum. She’s introduced as a flirty and cutthroat character that uses her wit and smarts to get things done. In a brilliant move from Naughty Dog, they have Chloe play off as the opposite of the other female character in the game, Elena Fisher, and Naughty Dog wants players to think it will be some sort of typical love triangle. But as fans know, Nathan makes it very clear that he is in love with Elena. So, with that trope out of the way, Chloe is allowed to really shine.
But I have to give it to Chloe, especially given the The Lost Legacy DLC, which allows her to have a wide range of different emotions. Chloe is faced with sexism by in-game guards, struggling to open up to a new character of Nadine, and she eventually faces the reasons why she is the way she is.
I chose Chloe over Elena because she is a bit more developed as a character, and I relate to her more. Chloe is more outspoken and raw, while Elena is calm and collective. Both of these characters are extremely strong, independent women who don’t just tag along on Nathan’s adventure—they question him, they push back, and sometimes they change the course of the entire game.
3. Ellie (The Last of Us)
It seems Naughty Dog really knows how to develop and create strong female characters in their games, because they have two on my list. And rightfully so, as I believe Ellie is one of the most influential characters in recent games.
When we first meet Ellie in The Last of Us, she is a teenager who must learn to adapt to the world and people around her while trying her best to survive during the apocalypse. This world is all that Ellie has never known, and as she learns more about it, we do too. As we follow Ellie in her journey, we become extremely attached to her and we grow with her. Ellie deals with many emotional and dangerous situations, from being taken captive to having to care for and save her partner Joel. Her strength and resilience becomes more impressive with every emotional trauma and hardship she goes through.
Ellie accepts the cards that she has been dealt and continues to push forward. She does not give up when things get tough, and given a lot of the events that take place during her story, it would be easy for her to do that. Ellie is also rebellious and strong-willed: If someone messes with something she cares about, she is quick to react and take action.
4. Clementine (The Walking Dead)
Clementine is a perfect example of a different perspective and character development from Ellie during a zombie apocalypse. While we follow both of these girls at a very young age, they are completely unique in their own way. Clementine is the whole package; she is both a strong leader and a lone wolf. In Telltale’s The Walking Dead, gaining control of Clementine is when the magic happens, as you make decisions for her that will affect the story as you progress. She faces things such as racism and ageism amongst groups she is apart of, but she handles these maturely and logically, which demonstrates how much she grows throughout her journey.
One of Clementine’s best moments is when she comes across a group of survivors who believe she has been bitten by a walker and lock her away in their shed overnight in case she turns. Little did they know that Clem would manage to not only escape, but also sneak into their house, collect things to dress her wound, and then sneak back into the shed! Overall, Clementine is strong-willed, mature and independent, all of which are key factors that I love to see in a female character—and ones that are needed during a zombie apocalypse.
5. Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)
Lastly is Aloy, who is the perfect way to end this list because she seems to have a little bit of each of these characters in her. Guerrilla Games created a character who grows up as an outcast of a matriarchal society and has to show her allies a reason to respect her. We follow Aloy on her journey to find out who she really is and what her purpose is, which is something we can all relate to. She is curious and willing to learn about the technology of this world, which makes her even more of an outcast due to her tribe’s beliefs against it.
Aloy is athletic, strong-willed, sassy, and smart, and while she is often compared to Lara Croft, I do not think that is the case at all. Aloy is an extremely complex character with an even more complex backstory. What I really appreciate about her is the fact that she is her own unique character. She does not fall into the typical “strong female just because we need a strong female” design—she actually contradicts the notion by being extremely cocky and headstrong. Aloy is in this extreme universe with robotic dinosaurs and a world that we don’t know, and her real strength is how grounded and determined she remains.
I could go on and on about the wonderful female characters that have graced video games. Honorable mentions also include: Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, Evie Frye from Assassin’s Creed, Yuna from Final Fantasy, Commander Shepard from Mass Effect, and so many more. There seems to be a shift in character development and while things might not be perfect, I can definitely see that more and more, video games are featuring a female lead. And that is something I am very proud to see.
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