August is the month in which women are celebrated in South Africa thanks to the stand that about 20,000 women took against an oppressive and patriarchal government when they marched on the Union Building on 9 August 1956. Tomorrow the day will be commemorated as National Women’s Day, which is a national public holiday.
So, there’s no better time to look at some of the amazing women we have had the privilege to meet while enjoying our favourite hobby. And while there are plenty incredible women across all genres and consoles, these are mostly ladies who star in their own games with a few minor exceptions.
Clementine (The Walking Dead series)
While you don’t get to play as Clementine in the very first game, she is undoubtedly the main star of the entire series that propelled Telltale Games to incredible heights. She starts off as a frightened young child, who still held her own in some pretty grim circumstances, but as she goes on her journey of survival with Lee, she evolved into one of the strongest, mature and independent young ladies we have come to love. It is sad how things turned out for the studio, and that we won’t ever really get any closure for this incredible character.
Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII series)
Claire Farron, better known as Lightning, doesn’t come across as the most affectionate person when you first meet her, but you soon realise she truly cares for those around her and the people that she swore to protect. She first leads the ragtag group of misfits to save their home world Cocoon by defeating the powerful Barthandelus and Orphan. She later went on to serve as a knight to protect the goddess Etro in 13-2, and finally she becomes the agent of Bhunivelze and uses near godlike power to save souls before the world ends. Lightning will do anything to get the job done and doesn’t have time for games, but her compassion for her friends and those she learns to trust is what makes her one of the greatest leaders we’ve seen in the medium.
Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)
From a very young age, Aloy had to fight for her rights to be an equal, not necessarily as a woman, but because she was considered an ill omen, since nobody from her tribe knew where she came from. She ended up being better than everybody else through hard work, determination and a stubbornness to never give up. Aloy has a quiet confidence about her which is seen in the way she walks, and talks with others, never looking down on them, but also not allowing them to look down on her. And she fights and kills giant robot dinosaurs, which is pretty badass.
Bayonetta (Bayonetta series)
Talk about badass! This Umbra Witch has guns with infinite bullets strapped to her shoes, wears her long magic hair as a one-piece suit and completely obliterated enemies the size of continents all while never missing a beat. She knows she’s damn sexy, and caries herself with that type of confidence. She can do just about anything she wants, all while looking incredibly fabulous while doing so.
Shepard (Mass Effect series)
In Mass Effect players get a choice of playing as a male or female Shepard, with many claiming the female version is the absolute best. What makes Shepard so remarkable is that she is not only a great soldier, but an excellent tactician, diplomat and most importantly a leader. She not only manages to bring back her entire team from certain death in a suicide mission, but also saves other captured crew members, destroys several reapers and after that rallies the entire galaxy to an epic war against a force that have destroys all life for eons. And wins.
Ellie (The Last of Us)
While Ellie isn’t the main, playable character in The Last of Us, she is an integral part of the story, and it is in a way her journey. Born into a world that has already fallen, she has learned how to survive at all costs. She is undoubtedly incredibly strong willed and stands back for no-one, not even at the age of 14. The next game in the series is due to release soon and there is no doubt her strength, courage and fighting spirit will be focused on more going forward.
Jill Valentine (Resident Evil series)
This list can probably be populated by nothing but strong female characters from the Resident Evil series, but we’re sticking to one person from the franchise, and who else than the original zombie slaying badass, Jill Valentine. In the very first game of the series we get to learn about the outbreak happening in the outskirts of Raccoon City as she fights her way through a mansion infested with horrible creatures such as zombies, giant spiders and mutant dogs that like jumping through windows. She is thrust straight into a total nightmare but doesn’t stand back once as her S.T.A.R.S. training kicks in. She tries to save her friends while getting to bottom of what’s going on. Later she finds herself in Raccoon City being chased by the unstoppable Nemesis who would destroy just about any man standing in its way, but Jill ultimately overcomes the insurmountable odds. She is one of the reasons we’re seeing more women kicking ass in video games today, and for that we are grateful.
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider series)
One other woman we are immeasurable grateful for needs no introduction, as you all probably knew she would be on this list. Lara has always been an incredible lady with some amazing skills, being able to fight everything from mercenaries, to skeletons to a huge freaking T-Rex! On top of that she is incredibly intelligent, being able to solve some ancient riddles and puzzles, often while being under some lethal pressure. In 2013 we saw Lara get a reboot, which showed a younger, less experienced young woman who is forced to fend for herself to become the Tomb Raider we know today.
Samus Aran (Metroid series)
Ah yes, the OG badass in video games is none other than Samus Aran from the Metroid series is an intergalactic bounty hunter who was saving the galaxy while most other men of her time was still getting high on mushrooms and chasing after princesses. We don’t know much about Samus, as she tends to be a woman of few words, and rather speak through her actions. We were all surprised when it was revealed at the end of Metroid (1986) that she was a woman underneath that armour and not a man doing the ass kicking as we were so used to back then. Her heroism knows no bounds as she sets out to accomplish what many before her has failed. She is the epitome of what a woman can be and someone we can all aspire to be.
And that is my list of some of the greatest women in video games. And while we all these women are awesome characters that should be admired through their portrayals, we should never forget to love, cherish and support the incredible women in our lives. Whether it’s you mother, sister, wife, girlfriend or even the women you work with, just know that they are all incredible, strong and independent people who will do anything for the people they love. To all the women out there (including our writers and in the comments), Happy Nation Women’s Day!