10 Characters That Fight Sexism in Gaming
There’s no question that sexism is prominent throughout the history of video games and still is to this very day. A vast majority of games have depicted women inferior to men, constantly requiring their help in trying to help solve any conflicts that appear in most stories. Almost every single title from the Xbox One’s lineup at this year’s E3 did not feature any sort of female protagonist. Aside from Bayonetta 2 (starring a hyper-sexualized female lead), Beyond: Two Souls and Mirror’s Edge 2, we cannot think of many other front-line titles featuring female protagonists. Combined with the concept of scantily-clad booth girls scattered around the entire expo, it is quite apparent that sexism is still a dominant factor in the video game medium. Though this type of thought may exist in the industry, we would like to present our list of 10 Characters That Fight Sexism in Gaming in order to help inspire change.
Anya Stroud – Gears of War Series
Anya’s movement to the frontline during the Lambent outbreak of Gears of War 3 could have easily been oversexualized, especially with the undertone of romance that existed between her and Marcus Fenix. But it turns out that she’s just as badass as Dom, Carmine, Cole and the rest of Delta Squad.
Faith Connors – Mirror’s Edge Series
The physical feats Faith is able to accomplish throughout the first Mirror’s Edge title helped redefine the expectations of action games and the first-person perspective. Her frame and figure are surprisingly realistic in terms of her athletic prowess.
Lightning – Fight Fantasy 13 Series
The fact that a female finally took the lead of a Final Fantasy title (let’s just forget X-2 ever happened), is a sign that there is at least some progress occurring in the stoic nature of JRPGs. Rydia, Celes, Yuna, and Terra from the FF series could have easily made this list, but Lightning’s recurring spotlight is the biggest sign of change.
Chell – Portal Series
Combined with the looming, female voice of GLaDOS, Portal 1 & 2 help push female game characters into a realm where they are not inexplicably oversexualized. Not necessarily ugly or sexy, Chell appears to be the counterpart to the silent Half-Life protagonist, Gordon Freeman.
Elizabeth – BioShock Infinite
At first glance, Booker DeWitt’s venture of extracting Elizabeth from her captivity in Columbia can seem like the traditional damsel-in-distress story. As the game explores her powers, her potential to manipulate tears in the existence of time shows that she is easily one of the strongest beings in video game history. “Booker, are you afraid of God?” “No. But I’m afraid of you.”
Jade – Beyond Good and Evil Series
Jade’s partnership with Pey’j in their quest to rescue orphans and expose human trafficking operations run by the government can be analyzed as a critique on the expectations of a male-dominated video game universe. Though unintended, the aesthetics of the game suggest that men are pigs in allowing the system to subjugate people (i.e., women), in such a previous manner. But men can redeem themselves by supporting the right heroines.
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider (2013)
A few years ago, Lara Croft never would have been on this list and was originally one of the faces of the ongoing sexism that occurred throughout gaming. Her redesign for the 2013 title is yet another sign of progression. Though we don’t expect every rich, female adventurer to look like Jessica Alba, it’s nice to see attempts at toning down the overt sexuality of one of the format’s most prominent sex symbols.
Princess Zelda - The Legend of Zelda Series
The multiple persecuted maiden plots concerning Zelda coincide with the patriarchal stereotypes of women in video game history. But the empowerment Princess Zelda displays in the more recent titles (being a pirate, firing the light arrows at Ganon in Twilight Princess and her transformation into Sheik), encourages gamers to change their minds about princesses simply waiting to be saved by a male hero.
Commander Shepard – Mass Effect Series
A decade ago, female Shepard could have easily looked like Miranda Lawson. The attention FemShep received in Mass Effect 3 is one of the biggest, non-sexualized spotlights women have ever gotten in the video game universe. The game’s CGI trailers were redone to include the redhead heroine, and the game’s cover was reversible in order to allow gamers to have FemShep grace the front of the game case. Furthermore, Jennifer Hale’s voice acting for the trilogy is, without a doubt, one of gaming’s greatest performances ever.
Samus Aran – Metroid Series
Nintendo’s decision to incorporate Zero Suit Samus and make her a flawless blond may have undid a lot Samus’s built-up female empowerment and sexualized her character greatly, but the ending of the original Metroid title is still one of the greatest hoorahs of video game anti-sexism.
Any there any other female characters we may have missed that you feel helps to unravel sexism? Let us know in the comments below!