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Opinion

Here's To The Kickass Women Of Video Games

#InternationalWomensDay

As International Women’s Day looks to recognise the role and impact that women have in all walks of like, I’m reminded that the power of video games is in its breadth and depth. For every story-free puzzle game there’s a narrative driven adventure, for every racing game there’s a dumb war shooter, for every strong male lead there could and should be a strong female lead. We need these different perspectives and to embrace the full range of what gaming can offer.

So it’s important to hold up all the exemplary female leads and supporting characters in video games. 2017 was a great year in that regard, especially on PlayStation, as we saw Aloy’s adventure in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Chloe and Nadine taking centre stage in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the hugely powerful story of adversity in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the teenage drama of Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. The list goes on and on and on.

Even Super Mario Odyssey tries to go some way to booting out the eye-rolling damsel in distress plot line that has run through the series for far too long. Yes, Peach is kidnapped (again) and needs rescuing from Bowser (again), and even her tiara gets to be a damsel. Then Mario beats Bowser one final time and instead of leaning in for a kiss with the man of the hour, Peach bats away his hastily proffered flower and decides to go on her own adventure. It’s a lovely twist and as you revisit the kingdoms to collect more Power Moons, you bump into Peach and Tiara as they revisit and explore the world for themselves.

Yet all of these games, characters and stories live in the bubble of a male dominated industry. It’s something I’m very aware of in our own pool of writers, and it feels like 99% of the time when I sit down to play a game, it was a man who wrote the dialogue, a man who led the gameplay design, a man who heads the company. There are women such as Amy Hennig, Jade Redmond or Rihanna Pratchett who have had a defining role in some of the biggest game series ever created, but they are still few and far between.

However, I do get the sense that things are gradually changing. The gaming media is still male dominated – I’m all too aware that TSA is no exception to this – but from the writers and video producers through to those working in community management and PR, there’s a lot of awesome women I know working with and sharing their passion for video games. I could list dozens of people, but perhaps its best to show how they’ve been championing women in video games themselves.

We’ve come a long way in the last five, ten, fifteen years, to broaden the reach of video games and see them become more and more inclusive, but there’s arguably still a long way to go. That can only come from having more women involved in games and for those that are already here to act as role models and inspirations. For those playing the games, it’s the characters, for those creating, it’s the game directors and designers, for those wanting to share their passions with the world, it’s the people on screen or behind the keyboard.

So whether they’re real or fictional, here’s to all the kickass women in video games.

12 Comments
  1. Lieutenant Fatman
    Member
    Since: Jul 2013

    Good stuff, great to see things change for the better. Any plans to get more women on the Sixthaxis team this year?

    Comment posted on 08/03/2018 at 18:53.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      As and when we can, absolutely.

      Comment posted on 08/03/2018 at 19:26.
  2. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    I’ve always been inspired by strong women – Lara, Buffy, Spice Girls, Sex and the City, Cersei Lannister, Katie Hopkins, Mrs Doubtfire #GrilPower.

    Comment posted on 08/03/2018 at 19:18.
    • 3shirts
      Member
      Since: Aug 2008

      You’re thinking of George Foreman.

      Comment posted on 14/03/2018 at 15:14.
  3. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Nice article! I’m not one for positive descrimination so it’s been good to read about accomplishment and we’ll deserved recognition rather than blind equality. I’ve got twin daughters, hopefully they’ll grow up experiencing as little sexism as possible with as many good female heroes in games as possible. More Aloy, that’s what we need, she’s amaaaazing.

    Comment posted on 08/03/2018 at 19:28.
  4. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Let’s not forget about brave Anita Sarkeesian, taking hits for bringing some progress to the topic, and of course my all time favorites, Ripley and her daughter.

    It’s a shame even the comments section seems completely dominated by men, not just on this site.

    Comment posted on 08/03/2018 at 20:36.
    • The Lone Steven
      Never heard of him.
      Since: May 2010

      I actually can’t tell if this is a joke or not? If it is..

      HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF BEING A MAN! I AM NOT A MAN! A MAN HAS A JOB! :P

      Comment posted on 09/03/2018 at 09:33.
      • Andrewww
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        I did not mean to accuse anyone of anything, and I explicitly wrote ‘seems’. I think you got to admit that ‘Steven’ seems to be a male name, right..?

        But, seriously, no, I did not mean my comment as a joke, not sure why you’d think that.

        Comment posted on 09/03/2018 at 12:06.
      • The Lone Steven
        Never heard of him.
        Since: May 2010

        You sir, are an utter, utter, goit. I am neither male or female. I am merely the Steven. :P

        It was the mention of Anita that cause a bit of confusion. I think I mistook it as sarcasm. Before I’m jumped on, i just mean that she isn’t exactly the best source as she is quite biased withher agenda and is known to take stuff out of content. E.g. Using Dragon Age’s City Elf origin. Yes, the PC does get kidnapped but that female PC frees herself, the other women and guts the raping bastard. Same with taking filler stuff from Hitman and claiming it encourages murdering of women etc..

        But that said, I may be a bit contravesial with what i’m about to say. Gender means nothing to me when it comes to protagnists. The plot does, the characteristation does etc… I am kinda one of those people who just don’t see Gender as a major part. I mean, i wouldn’t give a feck if they replaced Kratos with a woman for GOWIV. Heck, I would love to see Sif(my norse myths is not really knowledge) as a protangist. Damnit, went on a bit of a ramble.

        Comment posted on 09/03/2018 at 14:19.
      • Andrewww
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        I’ve only just seen your comment now, while closing age old tabs in my browser…
        Of course, I’ve not fact-checked every statement by Sarkeesian. But the fact how much and what extreme backlash she gets, proves her point so much more than any study ever could. She’s not exactly up against the brightest type, that’s for sure.

        Ok, you are The Steven. That’s fine for me…! ;o)

        Comment posted on 01/04/2018 at 10:30.
  5. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    To be honest, and i’ll be blunt. I merely don’t give a shit about genders of main characters. I do, however care if gender is the only trait of a character. I mean, character that is only X because they want X in instead of just happening to be X and the character is fully fleshed out. I pretty much dislike tokeism(i think that’s what it is called) but fortunately, that rarely occurs in gaming. At least, the plot heavy ones and most are done well. Lara croft may have fanservice roots but the reboots has turned her from that chick with dem boobs to Lara Croft: A character/The rival of Drake. Chloe Fraiser is one of the stronger characters in Uncharted. Ellie from TLOU is a superb character and really flips some tropes around. Elizabeth from Bioshock deserves a mention. There’s a lot of excellent characters and the “Oh, but she is a woman” sexist crap is becoming a thing of the past.

    Except for COD online. But that is just typical teenage bullshit/sexists bullshit that will always haunt online stuff. :(

    I would like to see more exploration of certain things that male characters can’t.

    I think i’ve poorly explained my thoughts on it.

    Shot. :(

    Comment posted on 09/03/2018 at 14:25.
    • JR.
      Member
      Since: Apr 2013

      Lara Croft is my favourite video game character ever but I preferred it when she was a worldly and highly intelligent explorer – not the whiney, inexperienced, victim she became in the most recent games. I realise it’s an origin story but still… Like being a sex object is demeaning – it’s a weapon (and a powerful one at that).

      Jill and Claire from the early Resident Evil games were great characters too. Also, Nix from inFamous 2.

      Comment posted on 09/03/2018 at 21:43.