The video game industry and women are not very friendly terms. It is a field mainly focused on the masculine created by men, where women make up half of the public. The traditional roles of women in video games, as in other cultural vehicles, have to do with stereotypes such as the damsel in distress or the mother; they are assigned gender roles or are sexual objects, as in the classic example of the difference between the whole armour on a male character and the metallic bikini on a female one.
But little by little, it is changing. A study by the International Game Developers Association in 2021 found that the industry comprises 61% men, 30% women, and 8% non-binary individuals, while in 2014, female and non-binary individuals were 22% and 2%, respectively. At the same time, this change is reflected in the prominence of video games. Games starring women or where they let the player choose their sex have gone from 9% and 46% in 2015 to 18% and 54% in 2020.
And here, we want to bring you some examples of great games starring female characters in recent years.
1. Metroid Dread
Lara Croft is always talked about as the first great female protagonist of video games (let’s avoid the issue of 90s sexualization). Still, the great pioneer was Samus Aran and the first Metroid. In 2021, the Spaniards at Mercury Steam released Metroid Dread for the Switch. They took everything good from the classic Metroids, with gameplay in two dimensions focused on exploration, combat, and unlocking new areas through new abilities on a giant map. The game that created a genre breaks it down again on its terms.
Based on the repetition of patterns, this triple AAA roguelike puts a lot of weight in its proposal as an argument that we must unravel the past of the protagonist, the astronaut Selene Vassos, whom we have to help escape from a cycle of terror on a hostile planet. A game of exploration and shooting everything that moves is worth getting lost in.
3. Life Is Strange: True Colors
This graphic adventure, divided into episodes, stars Alex Chen, a woman with mental powers who must solve the mysterious death of her brother. It belongs to the Life is Strange saga, which is known for being one of the first mainstream video games to represent homosexual relationships respectfully and realistically.
4. The Medium
This Bloober Team game seeks to recover the sensations of the horror games before Resident Evil 4 and its shooting salad in Basque villages. Fixed camera, scares bad vibes… and all under the leadership of Marianne, a medium who can move from the world of the living to that of the spirits at will. Closer to graphic adventure than survival horror, with its plot as the main attraction.
Forspoken is one of those games that the hype created by Luminous Production led to, but when the final product wasn’t so complete or different, the blow to the studio was terrible. So much so that Square Enix has disappeared and taken over the studio. One of the few successes was her protagonist, Frey Holland, a 21-year-old New Yorker who is transported to a fantasy world where she must become her saviour while getting to know herself.
6. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Among the new Assassin’s Creed RPGs, the most important thing in terms of appeal is the setting. Odyssey takes classical Greece and its archipelagos to create an open world with elephantiasis that can trap you for hundreds of hours. Although it allows you to choose between a male and a female protagonist, Ubisoft has already established that in the canon of the saga, the protagonist of this instalment is Kassandra, a strong woman with much more personality than Alexios, her male counterpart.
7. A Plague Tale
This saga, with two games behind it, makes a virtue of its limitations, offering two closed adventures created to be enjoyed on a particular route. Set at the end of the Middle Ages, much of the charm of these adventures lies in the relationship between the protagonists, two brothers, Amicia and Hugo de Rune. In the role of Amicia, we must protect Hugo from human and supernatural dangers while trying to discover his disease. Amicia is also a very realistic character who must do what he can with what he has, far from the stereotype of an invincible action hero.
8. Horizon Zero Dawn
With two games, the great Horizon Zero Dawn and its magnificent sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, the protagonist Aloy has already become one of the great female protagonists. Her world, an aggressive place where humanity fights for its existence after being replaced by machines as masters of the earth, is the setting for a story of post-apocalyptic self-discovery.