GameCentral readers discuss their favourite female characters, from Lara Croft to Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Mesomex, following International Women’s Day earlier in the month. We wanted to know which female character you think is the most interesting and what you think of the representation of women in video games in recent years.

You can probably guess what some of the nominations were, although opinions were divided on the qualities of Lara Croft as a character. Bayonetta, Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, and the women of Uncharted were all popular though, with most readers feeling things are more positive now than they used to be.


Beaten by a woman

My favourite female game character is Chun-Li from the Street Fighter series. When I first saw her in the arcade days I wasn’t overly amazed by her but as I have used her in different iterations of the franchise, she has allowed one of my gaming dreams to come true.

She actually allowed me to essentially master the game and take my hobby to new heights. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that when you beat someone online with Chun it is a real ego stealer. So the hate you get is monuMENTAL. Chun-Li is and always will be my favourite.


The anti-Lara

For me the answer is definitely Bayonetta. If you’ve never played the games you may get the impression she’s just a tawdry caricature for the male gaze but she’s absolutely not. Bayonetta is completely in control of her own games and does not rely, want, or need any man.

Not only that but she’s perfectly aware of how she looks and taunts those that would try and objectify her, including many fourth wall breaks where it’s obvious she’s addressing gamers themselves. I think she’s fantastic and the fact that her games are amazing too is just the icing on the cake.

I imagine the most popular answer is going to be Lara Croft but as far as I’m concerned that’s just name recognition. Ask yourself who is Lara Croft? What are her personality traits? Her likes and dislikes? Her famous lines of dialogue or most intriguing storylines? Her great loves and losses? Having trouble? That’s because she’s basically a blank slate.

She may as well be a customisable avatar for all the difference it makes and they often have much more personality anyway (see: Mass Effect). Bayonetta is like the anti-Lara Croft and that’s why I love her.


Believable people

I’m in the minority but I actually liked Camilla Ludington’s take on Lara Croft, I feel she did the best with what she was given but my favourites in a three way tie are Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn) and both Chloe Price and Max Caulfield (Life Is Strange). All three are believable in their own situations and you can certainly feel empathy and sympathy for each character. The fact that Aloy and Chloe are voiced by Ashly Burch is testament to her voice acting talent.

I do think that females in gaming, both as characters and in life has got better over the last decade but I do think there should be more of them in prominent roles and if the rumours of a female lead in the next GTA are true then I’m all for it.

On another note, and while not quite gaming-related I’ve seen on social media a bit of a backlash to Alicia Vikander playing Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider because her breasts are too small. Not only have I never heard anything more ridiculous like it’s still the ‘90s, but it’s an insult to Alicia as both a woman and an actress. Always seems to be one step forward and two steps back.

GC: Just to note Chloe in Before The Storm is voiced by Rhianna DeVries, who we slightly prefer in the role.


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More to do

The female character I am most interested in has to be without any doubt, Lara Croft. The reason for this is because of how much Lara has gone through with all of the Tomb Raider games and has still managed to come out strong. From the very first Tomb Raider game to the resent Lara has faced a great deal of many challenges and has fought against numerous odds and foes.

Adding to this, Lara Croft has won over the hearts of gamers and has even managed to win over the respect of a lot of male gamers with her overwhelming accomplishments. Lara Croft has been voiced by five people in the video games something not many female characters in games has done.

I personally think the representation of women in video games is acceptable but there are quite a few improvements that should be made, such as bigger interactions with characters and in open world games like GTA and Red Dead Redemption. As well as being given some small advantages that would allow female main characters to be given a more controversial role and to help gamers have a better understanding of female main characters.

Broken Sword 1: Director’s Cut, for example, allows you to play as a female main character called Nico from time to time, which at the time of its release was what I felt like a very cool feature and was decent of Revolution to do that.

A few other franchises that I feel could use more prominent female main characters are Dead Rising games as although Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2 Off The Record did have Stacey and Rebecca players were never given a chance to play as them in co-op, to ensure they would have a more proactive role in the game and not just storyline based.
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East vs. West

I find it as hard to pick a favourite character, let alone a female one, in a game as it is to pick a single song (very hard). I could go on for a while of those that stay in the memory but would like to focus on the other part of the topic. Also, that said I have a personal favourite female character in a series of visual novels but don’t think that could be discussed here due to various reasons.

I see no issue with representation of females in video games at all, it may be an ‘issue’ in the West because certain groups take extremely selective examples, twist them and take to the more than willing gaming media to cry foul (because you can’t be sexy or be aimed at males anymore apparently) but has it ever been an issue really? Of all the games I grew up playing I did not care whether the character was male, female, dragon, car or whatever and I imagine the vast majority feel the same.

I think Japan has it down perfectly, they have by far the most diverse array of representation for all in their games and they do it because they want to not because they have to fill a quota or percentage. Take a look at Pokémon, Final Fantasy, or Dragon Quest, three of the biggest gaming franchise on the planet and from the beginning to this very day have interesting characters of both genders and all ages throughout. These are just a smidgen of an ocean’s worth of games including many from the western world.

They also cater to niches with visual novels, ecchi games that have sexy, fierce, intelligent, strong, weak, dangerous, etc. female characters and the like which are perfectly okay. They do the same with male characters in their otome games (though admittedly a smaller market). Some may scoff at these but they are popular and offer just about anything you could want.


Horribly effective

Even though she is an absolutely horrible person in the game, I actually quite like Irene Engel from Wolfenstein I and II. This is purely because I think she is an excellent villain, I can’t think of many other examples of villains in games where I really hate them.

Her actions over the course of both games allow you to build up a hatred for her so that any comeuppance she gets feels extremely satisfying. Nobody should look to her as a role model, but other developers and writers should look to her as a great example of a villain done well.
Truk_Kurt (PSN ID)/trukkurt (Steam ID)/Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Oxenfree (Switch)



Un-Jaded opinion

Jade from Beyond Good & Evil is a great woman for a gaming role model. Jade is friendly, not naturally violent but can handle herself, she has a great mind and cares greatly for the less fortunate who can’t defend themselves and never oversteps into an arrogance that borderlines overconfidence which turns into, ‘I do this better than you because I am better than you!’

I think that if more lead woman were like Jade, and less fan service like you get from anime-led games or Western games with the usual clichéd woman to excite teenagers or younger men, then the more interesting the storyline will be for all of us. Just as you get in the Uncharted series also.

Dialogue is important, and voice-acting to emphasise the character’s finer touches and the type of mind they have. I wish good voice-acting was not always so hit and miss in video games still, but unfortunately it still is. Character creation is good, and the world is your oyster when you can create any type of character you want, even though the storyline and character depth is not going to change because of it. But still, it’s good you get choice in creating a character that may be underused in gaming.

Personally speaking there is still an awful long way to go, but games like Horizon Zero Dawn and the Bayonetta series are good examples – both different types of characters but each a strong female that does not need the world of males to get them through difficult situations. And they’re both voice-acted beautifully, with a lot of depth and emotion.

I still think though, from what we have seen, the future looks a lot better than before and I think game developers know that.


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Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: The best female video game characters