In a world where some women in games are treated as counterparts for their male brethren, it’s hard to find great examples that set a trend for the ladies who accomplish great things. But after scouring the annals of gaming history we’ve come up with some of the best female role models of the medium.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of amazing women found throughout video games over the years — some you may have seen yesterday, and a few you may even have forgotten about, just in time for Women’s History Month.
Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
We’ll forgive her bad voice actresses for the first few games and get straight to the point: Jill’s made of stronger stuff than we are. From investigating shady T-virus outbreaks to going tit-for-tat with many of the more recognizable baddies of the Resident Evil franchise, Jill’s a formidable agent that really knows her herbs.
As a co-founder of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance it’s clear that Jill has all the proper training and knowledge to quell any threat (especially locks), especially when you also take into account her rabid fanbase and overall popularity as a character. Accompanying iconic partners, getting out of sticky situations, and looking fantastic while doing it for several years – these are some of the many reasons Jill makes a well-deserved appearance in our treasure trove of fantastic women.
Nariko (Heavenly Sword)
Nariko grew up her entire life expected to perform like the male warrior her father Shen had expected to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Despite a rocky upbringing and the typical derision that seems to come attached to women born to similar parents in popular media, Nariko proved herself a formidable warrior, “heir” to the sword, and friend to all in need.
While Nariko’s ultimate sacrifice came as a surprise to many of us who found her iron will, selfless nature, and combat proficiency enviable, it was a fitting end to the life the fiery-haired vixen lived, setting an example for plenty of the younger brethren in the game that if something is worth fighting for, you’re going to have to give it your all.
Jade (Beyond Good and Evil)
Jade, like Alyx Vance, places frequently on lists of amazing women in games for one simple reason: she’s fantastic. The young and capable photojournalist will put her life on the line for a good story, especially one that’ll blow the doors wide open on the conspiracy involving DomZ and Alpha Section, two factions supposedly at war with another.
The secrets Jade unravels while cataloguing the animal species on Hillys as a freelance journalist are mind-blowing, and enough to rattle anyone, but Jade is calm under pressure and ready to take a stand when so many others are cowering in fear or refusing even to see there’s an issue. These parallels with real life issues made Jade a prime candidate for women to look up to, acting rather than staying silent, and refusing to play ball when sinister forces are at work.
Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2)
The quintessential greatest female character you usually hear about when running down the list makes her debut in the Half-Life as an invaluable asset to Team Freeman. The daughter of Dr. Eli Vance, Alyx is both a proficient hacker and handy with a pistol as well. She’s a deeply caring individual with compassion for all those around her, and if you cross her there’s no stopping her from exacting some likely well-deserved revenge.
As she’s traveling with Gordon, wrestling headcrabs off unfortunate souls and taking up shotguns and other armaments to gun down the opposition, it becomes obvious that even if Alyx is upset or afraid, she hides it in order to appear strong for those around her – highly relatable, because who doesn’t try to hide their moments of weakness in order to appear stalwart and capable for those they care about? Loyal, multitalented, and deadly when necessary, we know Alyx always has our back, as well as believable motives and a great personality.
Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII)
Though Claire “Lightning” Farron may seem standoffish and even downright rude to strangers, beneath a tough exterior lies a warm, loyal heart and the drive to protect herself and her loved ones, especially her darling sister Serah. Despite her own insecurities and doubts about her ability to persevere throughout the entire l’Cie ordeal and discovering what her Focus was, she was able to both take a young, misguided warrior under her wing as well as support a crew of scared and confused souls on the very same journey.
When she eventually ends up something decidedly beyond human in Final Fantasy XIII-2, it’s absolutely clear the lengths she would go through in order to keep her sister from a fate worse than death. While there have been strong female characters in Final Fantasy previously, Lightning is a new brand of role model that definitely doesn’t get enough credit. Even though she was designed in the same mold as Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud, she comes into her own especially near the end of the game and sets all the right examples.