How women are presented in video games is a very sensitive issue. This is mainly because female characters tend to be over-sexualized to make video games more appealing to men.
While in most cases we are flooded by female video game characters that rely on men to live, with skimpy clothing, of course, some instantly stand out for the right reasons. These are the characters we will talk about.
Disclaimer: Such a list is always controversial because of a certain degree of subjectivity. So make sure to let us know your favorite in a comment.
10. Chell – Portal
Just as the Gordon Freeman character, Chell is always silent. And we do not know much about her. However, this is exactly what gives her an instant appeal. During the game, we learn that she is “abnormally stubborn” and extremely tenacious, which is why she became a test subject, although initially rejected. As GLaDOS says, Chell, the “dangerous, mute lunatic” shines, which is why she was also featured in Portal 2.
9. Ciri – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The ashen hair Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, or as most know her, Ciri, is one of the really strong female characters in the Witcher franchise. She is Geralt’s adopted daughter, becomes a witcher, dies, and becomes an empress. Also, she stands out as the only playable character in The Witcher games besides Geralt. Ciri has Elder Blood and can blink (teleport) behind her foes, which makes her in-game fighting style different than that of Geralt, but equally enjoyable. And we will soon enjoy it even more as The Witcher 3 will be launched for PS5 and Xbox Series X.
8. Cortana – Halo
If you never played Halo, you might know Cortana as Windows 10’s assistant. This is not a coincidence since the Cortana video game character that first appeared in Halo: Combat Evolved was Microsoft’s inspiration. In the game, Cortana is an AI bot that assumes the form of a beautiful woman. She is smart, witty, and one of the strongest female characters in games.
7. Bayonetta – Bayonetta
Bayonetta (real name Cereza) is widely praised as a very charismatic and strong heroine in gaming. While the game was hit and miss among fans, everyone seems to agree that she was perfectly designed to stand out thanks to her feminine image and just being different. She is also an umbra witch and has a great story. All this led to her appearing as a guest character in several games besides Bayonetta, like Super Smash Bros. and The Wonderful 101.
6. Princess Zelda – The Legend Of Zelda
You will have huge problems finding a more popular princess than Zelda in video games. She was so well received that the game now has a strong cult following. Even back in 2009, Princess Zelda was described by the Official Nintendo Magazine as “a strong woman who, with her sword and bow and arrow, is capable of holding her own in a fight.” But this is a very small part of the Zelda character. Just ask any fan of the series.
5. Kitana – Mortal Kombat
Even people that do not play Mortal Kombat know Kitana. The character first appeared in Mortal Kombat II and she instantly made a splash. In fact, she was voted as the best fighter in that game as her kit was good all around. While this did change over the years, her popularity only grew as a strong female character that eventually ends up ruling Outworld.
4. Chun-Li – Street Fighter
Many do not know this but Chun Li was actually the very first playable female video game fighter in a franchise that became popular around the world. It all started in 1991, with her debut in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. From there, she was featured in almost all games and had a huge cultural impact. She influenced fashion in China and many songs talk about her in one way or another. Countless celebrities and cosplayers can be seen at conventions dressing up as Chun-Li. The first and still among the best.
3. Jill Valentine – Resident Evil
Jill Valentine is arguably the most memorable female character in the Resident Evil franchise. She first appeared in 1996, in the original Resident Evil game. What was interesting was that Jill was not oversexualized when she was introduced to gamers. This was a bold move since then, all female characters in video games were sexualized. As time passed, Jill Valentine was featured in most Resident Evil games, in the movies, and made several cameo appearances. She is even playable as a Chun-Li alternate costume in a Street Fighter game.
2. Samus Aran – Metroid
Samus Aran is the oldest video game character on the list as it debuted in the first Metroid game, which was released in 1986. She was an ex-soldier turned bounty hunter. What made Samus Aran special is that we did not know she was female until the end of the game. This surprised gamers and led to a revolution in how women were portrayed in gaming. Without Samus Aran, we might not have had Nintendo. This is how influential the character was.
1. Lara Croft – Tomb Raider
It is hard to argue with Lara Croft as number one on the list of the top female characters in video games. She appeared in 1996 and instantly took the world by storm. After all, she was a very attractive archaeologist, a great fighter, very agile, was shooting guns like no other, and so much more. This game character holds 6 Guinness World Records and is widely recognized as the first sex symbol in the gaming industry. Obviously, the character is controversial but nobody can deny her success.