Within a few weeks, three notable games starring female main characters will be released.
Last month, gamers were treated to “Gravity Rush 2,” an action game starring a woman named Kat. “Neir: Automata,” which features a female android, releases Friday in Japan and March 7 in North America. And of course everyone is looking forward to Tuesday's release of “Horizon Zero Dawn,” whose main character is the red-haired huntress named Aloy.
Games often include women as primary, secondary or even playable characters, but it's less common for those characters to hold starring roles. That's probably because men are the primary demographic for blockbuster video games. But I know I relish any chance to play as a woman. Whenever I'm given the option to choose my gender in a game, I almost always opt for female simply because it allows me to play as and experience something I'm not, and isn't that part of what games are for?
With three noteworthy games starring women launching around the same time, I started thinking about my favorite female characters in games. In no particular order, here they are (warning: spoilers for various games abound):
Lara Croft deserves top respect for her roles in the reboot of the “Tomb Raider” series.
In the 2013 release, you get to see Croft's origin as she transforms from a young, terrified archeologist fighting just to stay alive in a hostile environment into a hardened, resourceful survivor. Her resilient and persistent persona continues in a new adventure in the sequel, “Rise of the Tomb Raider.”
Lara has come a long way from the original games of the '90s, and for that, she's quickly become one of my favorite gaming characters, male or female.
Since the first “Halo” game, artificial intelligence companion Cortana has been a loyal and charming ally to hero Master Chief. While you never get to play as her, she becomes a critical character throughout the series.
In “Halo 4” especially you get to see more of her human side as the game focuses and her and Master Chief's relationship. Things aren't quite the same in “Halo 5,” the first game after her death.
Microsoft recognizes Cortana's popularity and influence, going so far as to name their Siri-esque personal assistant after her.
I never thought I'd grow so attached to a 12-year-old girl game character, but here we are.
In Season One of Telltale's “The Walking Dead” game, based on the popular comic and show, you play as convict Lee Everett during the zombie apocalypse. Soon after the dead start rising, Lee finds Clementine, a young girl who can't find her parents. Lee agrees to protect her and help her search.
What follows is a budding father-daughter-like relationship. Lee cares for and looks after Clementine like the daughter he never had, and Clementine respects and obeys Lee as she would her own father. It's incredibly touching to see their relationship bloom and Clementine turn from a helpless girl into an independent survivor with Lee's help.
In Season Two, fans actually play as Clementine, who is now older, wiser and stronger thanks to Lee's direction. It's an awesome development to see and play a role in.
Piper is one of many partners you can recruit in “Fallout 4,” but she sticks out for several reasons.
Piper is sarcastic, witty, funny and smart as a whip. She can handle herself in a firefight. Plus, she's a fearless journalist who runs her own newspaper—in the apocalypse, no less—to make sure whatever form of government is left stays accountable to its citizens.
Oh, and she's got a cool red leather jacket.
“The Last of Us” is one of my all-time favorite games, and that's largely due to the short-tempered, foul-mouthed teenage girl, Ellie.
In “The Last of Us,” Ellie is immune to a fungus infection that turns the dead into mushroom-like zombies. Main character Joel agrees to take Ellie to a group of people who can use her DNA to create a cure. What follows is an emotional adventure where Ellie develops a trusting relationship with Joel, even going so far as to save his life. She also becomes a capable fighter.
In the upcoming “The Last of Us: Part 2,” Ellie is the main playable character, and I can't wait.
In “Gears of War,” humans are in an all-out war with the locust, a breed of underground monsters that wants to eradicate all mankind. Most of humanity is dead, so all capable men are required to fight.
In the first game, Anya is certainly no soldier. As the games progress and humanity is pusher closer to the brink of extinction, women have to join the fight. In “Gears of War 3,” Anya Stroud proves she's just as capable as the men at putting down locusts and cements herself as a memorable female character.
In an era where people frown upon the objectification of female characters, Bayonetta confidently and unapologetically flaunts her sexuality. Not only is she an incredibly powerful and capable combatant, but she does it all while looking good with a flirty smile on her face.
Plus, she wears a suit made of hair and shoes with guns attached to the heels, and that's just ludicrously awesome.