A fair warning, this blog is probably going to contain some mild spoilers.
Since Anita Sarkeesian has yet again taken it upon herself to make all males who play games look bad, this time through a series of feminist videos apparently showing how women have been wrongly misrepresented over the years, I feel as a male gamer who has considerable knowledge of the medium that extends over 20 plus years, that I must set the record straight.
I've compiled here a list detailing two characters from games I have personally played and who I feel are very strong female leads.
First up. Samus Arran, from the critically acclaimed Metrod franchise.
Now, it is fair to say that Samus is pretty much always wearing her Chozo suit, except for in more recent games that for some reason over sexualise her, put her in a skin tight suit and have her looking like a blond barby doll... But I digress, throughout most of the games she stars in Samus is in the full body Chozo suit, that may seem to undermine the fact that she is in fact female, however (and stay with me on this) it actually does just the opposite and here's why, back when metroid was first released on the NES it was pretty much unheard of for a female character to be the main lead in any game and as far as metroid I can't personally remember a female lead character dating back as far as Samus Arran.
The things that are important to note here are that Samus is wearing full body armour, you can't see any of her feminine attributes, and the suit in no way try's to enhance or bring attention to, errm... Them, anyway the next thing we should all be completely aware of regarding Samus, is that she is in fact a total bad ass, disregarding her rather controversial portrayal in Metroid other M, she has for the most part been portrayed as a cool, calm and collected bounty hunter, she works alone (for the most part) and hunts one of the biggest known threats in the galaxy, Metroids.
Samus also has a long standing nemesis in the form of Ridley, a Space dragon, bird thingy... It breathes fire and it's cool so, anyway Ridley is arguably one of the best recurring bosses in any game franchise to date IMO, as well as a nemesis that simply refuses to die Samus also has to deal with the Space Pirates, who are trying to cultivate Metroids and turn them into bio weapons they can then use to gain dominance over the galaxy, and of course the Space pirates are lead by one of the all time best final bosses in video game history, Mother brain, which is a brain with legs, but not always, and that one time it was an android... But that's not important, what is important though is that "Mother" brain is also female, even if she is of an alien species she is the big baddy in control of everything, the two most important characters in Metroid are both female and for a game that was released all the way back on the NES that is a pretty big deal, and considering the popularity of the Metroid franchise it all goes to show that not only are strong, non submissive Women not absent in video games as far back as the NES they also have a very special place in gamers hearts male or female.
Next up. Lara Croft, from the critically acclaimed Tomb Raider franchise.
I'll get this out of the way first, I never really considered Lara Croft to be a sex object, at least not in my eyes, now you could probably attribute this to my age at the time of the 1st games release but even as I got older and Lara's chest became less triangular, the fact she had huge boobs and short shorts was never the reason I enjoyed playing Tomb Raider games.
When we first meet Lara she is a no nonsense, quick on the draw, bad ass archaeologist who is willing to do just about anything in order to explore tombs and get her hands on some rare artefacts, this is where Natla comes in, she makes Lara an offer she can't refuse by asking her to find a lost artefact known as the Scion, Natla inevitably turns out to be the villain and is after the Scion only to further her own evil schemes.
It is worth a mention that again both the main character and villain are of the female gender, maybe more research is needed to be done as to why this is such a common occurrence in video games with female leads, but not right now.
As well as being a great source of inspiration for many 3D action, adventure and/or platform games that followed on from its success, Tomb Raider may very well be the very first open world 3D action adventure platformer, it revolutionised level design, 3D platforming and set the standard for auto aim gun wielding mechanics which was quite a big deal back in the day, there are many other reasons why Tomb Raider was ground breaking back when it was originally released all those years ago, but for the sake of staying on topic, Lara Croft was and is still for many, the definitive video game heroine, whether or not Lara's sex appeal helped in solidifying her as (the) video game girl icon is debatable, what is not though is just how incredibly good many, if not most of the games she stared in where.
The original Tomb Raider had everything you could have asked for in a game, the fact that a strong female character like Lara Croft was the star truly made the whole game complete and sparked a love for an Icon that goes far beyond her physique.
I do plan to revisit this topic in the future as their are so many more great female characters to choose from, but for now I have rounded it down to the two I feel are most iconic and have really helped to usher in some truly great, strong female leads.
Im not really sure if I managed to get my point across, but what Im really trying to say here is regardless of all the negative tropes towards women in video games, many gamers have a lot of respect towards the opposite sex and we don't all see princesses and damsels in distress as an object that needs to be saved.
Considering how male dominated this medium tends to be and the sheer amount of sexist abuse some girl gamers tend to go through while playing online it's understandable why these issues of sexism and discrimination come up, but I would honestly like to believe those people offering only abuse are the vocal minority and I can tell you without a doubt they don't speak for everyone.
My next blog will probably be about great female characters who weren't necessarily the main characters but where just as integral to the plot of the games they are in if not more so.
Thanks for reading my blog and as always please feel free to leave a comment, thanks.