In praise of girls in video games
Recent events would have us believe that the world of video games is a sexist habitat for men who just want to look at naked ladies and blow stuff up. The whole #GamerGate scandal has truly got me thinking about what beckoned me to fall in love with video games in the first place, and I think I’ve finally put my finger on it. See, the truth of the matter is that despite all those disgusting games that profit from aforementioned sexism, countless video games have portrayed some of the most empowered, badass women in fictional history. These characters made me love playing video games, and have kept me interested my entire life. So, since we all love lists around here, I thought I’d round up my personal favorite heroines of video game history. Maybe you will have some favorites to add!
1. Lucca, Chrono Trigger (1995)
We will start with the ‘90s here, because it was during this decade that I played my first ever video game with my big brother, and that game was Chrono Trigger. This game was just so good for so many reasons—from whimsical settings to fantastic music, it was way ahead of its time. My alarm clock on my phone is set to play Frog’s theme music so that every morning, a huge wave of nostalgia greets me and gets me pumped for the day. But above all else, this game had some of the best characters in RPG history.
Although Crono is the main protagonist in Chrono Trigger (obviously), and Marle and Ayla are strong female personalities in their own right, my personal favorite character from this game is Lucca. Lucca is a brilliant inventor, who is constantly confident and unashamed of being a genius. Without Lucca, the time travel storyline of Chrono Trigger wouldn’t exist. Although she invents the time machine that gets Crono into some serious trouble, she also allows him to discover some serious revelations about the future and essentially helps him save the world.
I just love how quirky, fearless, and brainy Lucca is. She is confident in her abilities, and it’s fun to play a game that centers around such a cool female character.
2. Jill Valentine, Resident Evil (1996)
Although horror and survival games are not my favorite, a strong case can be made for Jill Valentine being one of the most important female characters in video game history, given that she was the playable female protagonist in the game that started the huge media franchise. Jill is a tough lady! She is as powerful as she is sneaky, and she takes it upon herself to uncover the mysteries of the terrifying mansion within which she is trapped.
3. Cecilia Adlehyde, Wild Arms (1996)
Sticking with RPGs from the ‘90s, we move on to Wild Arms, my all-time favorite video game. This game is action-packed and full of fun puzzles. It also has a heart-wrenching storyline and, again, just excellent music. The three main characters in this game are Rudy Roughnight, Jack Van Burace, and Cecilia Adlehyde. Rudy is an adventurer with a fascination for firearms, which earns him a questionable reputation across Filgaia. Jack is a rough and tumble Indiana Jones-type who happens to be great with swords. He basically wants power and fame, and is balanced out by Rudy, a steadfast do-gooder. When Cecilia is introduced in Wild Arms, she is a mage, studying at a magic abbey. She also happens to be the Princess of Adlehyde.
From the get-go, we learn that Cecilia has some pretty serious power and extremely strong will. After a huge turn of events, Cecilia has a bit of a “Mulan” moment, cutting off her long blonde hair in order to disguise herself and join Rudy to save her kingdom from evil and destruction.
This game is loaded with smart dialogue between the three main characters, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning. Cecilia is an absolute badass, and I love her and want to be her.
4. Zelda, The Legend of Zelda (1986-2011)
The Legend of Zelda games created an iconic universe, recognizable by any true gamer. Although Zelda, Princess of Hyrule, seems to always need rescuing, her character has evolved through the years to become a capable, tough, and intellectual survivor. Zelda has taken on many forms to aid Link, her champion, in rescuing her and saving the world. Her aliases have allowed access to her true personality: an unrelenting hero amidst chaos and darkness.
5. Kairi, Kingdom Hearts (2002)
Kingdom Hearts was a revolutionary game that combined Disney with Square Enix’s signature Final Fantasy-esque style. Although Kairi was not the main playable protagonist, she was certainly central to a story that continued into several sequels and multiple adventures.
Kairi is Sora’s best friend. She is loyal and optimistic in all situations, and because of his friendship with Kairi, Sora is able to undertake the greatest adventure of his life.
6. Yuna, Final Fantasy X (2001)
Final Fantasy is arguably one of the most well-known game franchises of all time. The Final Fantasy games are famous for their rich storylines and diverse characters, many of whom are awesome women. It is, of course, hard to choose just one female character to gush about from these games, but Yuna is certainly one of the most popular female characters within the Square Enix repertoire. She is a true adventurer from the start, set out to kill a sea monster threatening the well-being of the world. She is also a character known for sticking up for her friends and never giving up on them. Yuna is a powerful summoner who employs the help of supernatural forces that help her conquer great feats. We love Yuna!
These are just a few examples of kickass women in video games; and if you’re like me, you have probably already discovered the magic of creating characters in MMORPG’s, such as Guild Wars 2. In these types of games, you can make your own female characters and take them on bold adventures and treacherous journeys. Take heart, gamers, there are plenty of games from Mortal Combat to Tomb Raider and even newer games like Halo Reach that allow you to get to know some tough girls with a lot to prove. Keep playing, and show those bosses who’s boss.
Katie Closter lives in the Pacific Northwest with her hilarious husband and adorable toddlers, Reagan and Henry. She is a writer, actress, and badass trombone player who spends her free-time watching sitcoms, laughing hysterically at Ricky Gervais’ bath pics on Facebook, and playing video games. She dreams of forming best friendships with Mindy Kaling and Katee Sackhoff and becoming a comedy writer in a big city.