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I guess I just like liking things

I am in no position to offer anything new to the “women in videogames” discussion: I am a white, middle-aged male, and my viewpoint is exactly the sort of thing that gets eye-rolled over. I happen to think my opinions on the matter are more closely aligned with the “right” opinions, but most people think that about their particular opinions, so I’m probably wrong and just don’t know it.  Or I don’t know how to adequately explain my viewpoints in such a way as to explain why they’re right.


In honor of the Tomb Raider reboot being released today, here are my favorite women in videogames, and not a single one of them are on this list because of their sexuality, except maybe Ms. Pac-Man. That isn’t to say some of these characters aren’t sexualizedly presented, it is to say that this is not a “hottest women of gaming!!!1!!” list, it is a list of my favorite female characters in games that I enjoy.

13. Yorda (Ico) – The Penny Arcade guys (warning: language I wouldn’t use) hit the nail on the head with this one, but even though it was often frustrating to get Yorda where she needed to go, the bond created between the two of you was strangely powerful and heartbreaking.

12. Ulala (Space Channel 5 series) – I have had a resin statue of Ulala and two Morolians in my office at work (right next to the stress cow and the sheriff armadillo). I kind of stink at the Space Channel games because my rhythm skills are not superior, but the look and feel of the games is all kinds of fantastic, and the idea of saving the galaxy with dance is an idea that will always seem viable.

11. Ms. Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man) – Again, I am not great at the Pac-Man games, but I enjoy them. Most people will tell you that Ms. Pac-Man improves on the previous game in many ways. All I know is that Ms. Pac-Man seems like someone who will not take your guff, so you should not attempt to give her any.

10. Aeris (Final Fantasy VII) – Final Fantasy was the first RPG I ever played, and the first game I ever put 100 (measurable) hours into. Like most everyone who played FF7, I leveled Aeris up and gave her all the best stuff…only to – again, like everyone else who played – have my heart broken. Stupid jerkface Sephiroth.

9. Alyx Vance (Half Life 2) – One of the most real characters in gaming history – not from a “looks like a real person” perspective, but from a “acts and reacts like a real person” one.

8. Sonya Blade (Mortal Kombat) – Kano’s the worst sort of jerk, and Sonya will stop at nothing to take him down.  Weird hellish creatures that can teleport and burn your face off? Pfft. Don’t bother me, man, I’ve got to take out the trash.

7. Catwoman (Batman Arkham City) – Ridiculous costume aside, the Catwoman sections of Arkham City were almost as good as the Batman ones. Once you get the hang of her fighting style, she can take out huge groups of thugs almost as effortlessly as Batman, if maybe a bit more flamboyantly. It’s unfortunate (and lazy) that the game designers could only think of one word for the thugs to call her the whole time she was trouncing them :/

6. Faith Connors (Mirror’s Edge) – There’s an achievement in this game for completing it without using a gun. It makes the game quite a bit more difficult, but it fits the feel of the game much better. It is a testament to the quality of the game that I insisted on finishing the game even though it is one of only two games that have ever caused me to have motion sickness (Half Life 2 being the other). Unfortunately, after all the extra work I out into playing without shooting, the achievement didn’t pop. I don’t know why, but I also know I can’t go back and replay the game.

5. Inochi (World of Warcraft) – Most of you have never heard of Inochi, as she is one of the characters I rolled on World of Warcraft. She was a Human Rogue, a departure for me from my main style of gameplay (a Night Elf Hunter). I never enjoyed the Rogue methods as much, but I still leveled her to 60 at the time when that was the cap. When I logged back in for a week a little while ago, she was still there, waiting patiently. Maybe some day, Inochi. Maybe some day.

4. Pai Chan/Chun Li (Virtua Fighter series / Street Fighter series) – Chun Li is the more famous one, but Pai Chan comes from my more-favored series. Similar to Sonya mentioned above, I like that they hold their own against any of the other fighters. I wasn’t ever much good at Chun Li, but Pai was easier to pick up than some of the other Virtua Fighters, so I defaulted to her a lot and got fairly decent at her moves.

3. GlaDOS/Chell (Portal series) – How much do we know about Chell? Not much, but without her I don’t know that we’d enjoy GlaDOS as well.

2. Shepard (Mass Effect series) – This one, like Inochi above, are a little bit of a cheat, since the player can choose which gender to use. I’d much rather listen to a woman talk than a man, so that’s how Zwordling Shepard came to be. (Yes, her first name comes from Better Off Ted, but it also references my name.) I always meant to go back and play Mass Effect with a dudeShep, but I can’t bring myself to do it. For me, Shepard is a woman, and I don’t know who that guy is they keep showing in the game clips.

1. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider series) – Over the years Lara has come to symbolize both what’s right and what’s wrong with female videogame characters. On the one hand, she’s a strong, fearless person who has taken on ancient demons and used Thor’s hammer. On the other hand, she’s … well, you’ve seen the character design, yes? The Tomb Raider series is my favorite game series of all time, mostly because the mix of adventuring and not-too-difficult puzzles is exactly the right mix for me. Frankly, I’m a little concerned that the reboot being released today will only be Tomb Raider in name. Over the years we’ve gotten to know Lara, and I’m concerned that they’ve just slapped the Tomb Raider label on some other game they had laying around. I’m hearing good things about the game and will know soon enough, I guess, but I’m still a bit worried.


Who’d I forget?

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