In honor of International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite female video game protagonists, across all consoles and genres. We’ve picked our top five, and hope you agree!
Female Commander Shepard from Mass Effect
Be it kicking Reaper ass or smooching her love interest, Female Shepard has become an iconic protagonist. She doesn’t take anyone’s shit, gets the job done, and is an unexpected diplomat to boot, navigating the Council, Alliance, Hierarchy, and then some to save the galaxy against all odds. Jennifer Hale’s voice work also brings her to life, creating an expressive, empathetic character that all players can connect to and feel with. FemShep can look anyway you want her too, but the powerful core that drives her, that makes her Commander Shepard, carries through no matter how you play the Mass Effect trilogy.
Lara Croft from Tomb Raider
Lara Croft has come a long way across many iterations of the Tomb Raider games. Smart, witty, and passionate, Lara shows that a woman can be an amazing archeologist–while also highly adept at defending one’s self against attempts on her life. Able to use a variety of weapons and solve every puzzle thrown at her, Lara shows us that female characters can be strong and emotional and damn good at what they do. Especially in her most recent iterations, Lara Croft has shown us her response to trauma, dealing with the emotional aftermath, and how one can pick up the pieces and move forward in life to achieve their goals.
Samus Aran from Metroid
The main protagonist of the Metroid games, Samus is an intergalactic bounty hunter who spends her days doing the impossible. Be it destroying the Space Pirate base on Zebes, ending the Galactic Phazon crisis, or even the extermination of the Metroid species, Samus is who the Galactic Federation turns to when they need help. Brooding and distant though she may be, she’s a capable warrior and a hero to many, and inspires others to try for what they might perceive as impossible.
Chell from Portal
The silent protagonist of Portal and Portal 2’s single player campaign, little is known about Chell beyond her stubborn will to live and the references GLaDOS makes about her being abandoned towards the end of the first game. Surviving first GLaDOS’s experiments, then Wheately’s, Chell weilds the Portal Gun with ease and solves the various puzzles that define the game. She’s quick, smart, and adapts to each new challenge with the player as they progress through both games. She’s become the face of the series, and proves that, where there’s a will, there’s a way to survive, crazy AI or not.
Cortana from Halo
Though not technically the protagonist, Cortana is Master Chief’s AI companion, and helps the player throughout four of the five main series Halo games. Her sarcastic commentary and genuine care for Chief colors the player’s experience, and her presence becomes expected game to game, missed when she is absent. She’s always ready with a quip and/or tactical advice, and Halo as a series wouldn’t be the same without her in it.
These are only a few of the badass women who lead and shape the games they exist in. Women are present as more than just sex symbols or fluff characters, and have an impact across all genres of video games. From Cortana to Lara, women have something to say, to teach us, and are capable of being their own heroes. Here’s to those women, who make us better in turn.
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