The Best Badass Women in Gaming
So, I’m going to throw it out there – I’m a girl gamer. Surprised? No, you shouldn’t be, because actually there are quite a lot of us out there these days. A couple of decades ago, or maybe even just a couple of years ago, the idea of gaming went hand in hand with men and with boys, if girls played, they would have certainly be ridiculed. I was – but I didn’t care, I’d just go home and pretend the spawn in Halo were those mean kids, and blast their heads off. Oh good times. But, time have changed, and gaming has too. These days, the industry is not a man-fuelled testosterone blast of manly manliness, actually, games are now spending their time and money trying to accommodate the growing number of women gamers as well.
And about time too. I’m sick of overly sexual women in gaming, with their giant breasts and lack of clothing, or, failing that, they’re weak and helpless and constant damsels in distress. I hate that – we’re better than that, and games weren’t representing this at all. I mean, look at Grand Theft Auto, the only women in that game are either prostitutes or might as well be. It’s infuriating. Which is why I love it when a gaming company turfs out a new game that genuinely represents my gender in a positive and, well, badass way. So, here are some of the best badass women that gaming has so far to offer.
Up first, it’s obviously Lara Croft.
Now, I’m actually going to get a little bit strict here, and only give this place to the Lara Croft created in the recent reboot last year. The Lara in the past was exactly what I didn’t like in female representation, she was a pair of giant breasts, a sexual symbol, a 2D, flat, bland character hidden behind tiny shorts. But, last year, Square Enix finally realized her real potential.
The game was fantastic – the game play, the story, the characters, the multiplayer – it was all just brilliant. I loved it. But what was best was easily the game’s revamp of Lara’s character. In Tomb Raider 2013, Lara is not your usual sassy heroine out on the hunt for adventure and thrill; instead she is just a normal graduate student, just like you or me, who has danger thrust upon her when her ship strands she and her friends upon a supernatural island.
What I like about Lara in this game is just how beautifully ordinary she is. Not in a boring sense, but in a way that she is so similar to anyone else in the real world, that I related to her character more than I have any other women in gaming before. I understood her fear and her motivation, because it was all so familiar in its normality. And yet, such a normal person was able to survive the horror of the island, fight her way to freedom, save her friends, battle against the odds and stand against the devastation all around her.
This Lara embodies something entirely different. The game makes the point that Lara is not some supernatural being capable of great unknown feats we could never imagine, but instead poses the complete opposite, that we as people, empowered sheer human strength of will, are capable of anything. Now that’s inspiration for you.
Following alongside in the heroine hall of fame, its Lightning from Final Fantasy.
Now I’ve only ever played a few Final Fantasy games, only due to my dislike of turn based battle. But I’ve played enough to see quite a few women in their games, and well, they’re not exactly the most inspiring or badass girls I’ve ever seen. No, usually they’re weak and frail and they make you want to protect them. Which is fine I guess, but not what I want. I want a woman in a game who is purely awesome, strong and powerful – and that woman is Lightning.
Lightning, or Claire Farron, first becomes entangled in the world of danger and threat in an attempt to protect her sister. Already, Lightning shows bravery and determination in putting her family’s life before her own. But, in doing so, uncovers the terrible plot that will inevitably destroy her home town of Cocoon. Does she sit back and let her male friends save the day, or get captured and allow herself to be rescued? Of course not.
Lightning gets her sword, and she gets fighting. She is not weak, and she is no damsel. She rises from a simple townswoman to saviour of souls, moving on from protecting villages to saving the entire world from certain destruction. Responsibility weighs heavy on her shoulders yet she will never crumble. In Lightning is a woman I admire for her strength and courage, and well, she is undeniably awesome. Also you’ll notice her armour actually covers her chest – finally, sensible protection.
Next up, it has to be Ellie from The Last of Us.
Now this girl made that game. I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as successful had it just been Joel wandering the apocalypse alone. No, it was Ellie that made the Last of Us what it is – sheer brilliance. She was 14, a child still, and yet Ellie never cowered in a corner or cried out in terror. Ellie faced every enemy they came across, headstrong and bold, with a witty remark here and a comeback there – she stood against the end without fear.
She isn’t a useless AI either. When in-game as Joel, Ellie isn’t some worrying distraction in a corner, she rushes to help, to hurl bricks at those who threaten you, and to shoot skulls inward when needed. This becomes even more apparent when you finally get to play as her in the winter months, seeing her true bravery and strength as she fights against a group of desperate cannibals. There was not a more awesome moment than when she shoved her knife through David’s face again, and again, and again.
The depth and complexity of her personality was further explored in the DLC, Left Behind. In this, we gained a back story for Ellie, concerning the adventure of she and her friend Riley, as the story unfolds the tale of how she was bitten. The DLC was adorable and silly, yet it added on so many countless layers to Ellie’s character. Even though she and Riley are bitten and death is certainly on the horizon, she does not lose hope.
Clementine is due next, axe at the ready.
Wow, zombies must really bring out the best in women. Can’t wait. I’m talking Clementine circa season 2 of The Walking Dead, in which she has shed Lee’s protective wing, and is out on her own in the infested, dark world. Much like Ellie, she is a child exposed to horrible and traumatic things. She witnessed the death of so many of her friends, the slow infection of her fellow, Duck, and she (if you chose that) had to kill Lee, her beloved guardian.
For your average 10-year-old, events such as these would surely scar them for life. But not Clementine. Each tragedy only serves to make her stronger, and more resilient against the worst the world has to offer. She takes horror and devastation, and wears it like a suit of armour. These days, it is very hard to phase Clementine.
Not only is Clementine brave and strong, she is also extremely clever. Put alongside grown adults, men and women alike, she is not seen as some helpless child, they view her as an equal, and this is due to her level of maturity and intelligence. She can help with strategy plans and provide sound advice, she can be a part of an escape plan and be counted on to do it right. Clementine may be young but she is an adult before her time, and she wears it well.
Whenever I find a good female heroine in a game, I love it. Whether its women who survive the impossible, in zombie apocalypses or supernatural threat, or girls who simply kick butt 27/4 without a care, I’m in. Female protagonists deserve a more frequent place in the gaming industry. They are so painfully rare, and they shouldn’t be. The world has changed, and games need to follow suit. But, this rise has been growing in the past few years, and with time, I’d hope to be able to add a good few more women to this list of badassery.