4 female video game characters who have inspired me


From Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft to Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth. Here is what I’ve learned from the strong women of video games.

I worked in a gaming store between the ages of 16 and 19. Before that time, I exclusively played Batman: Arkham City on my second-hand PlayStation 3. My gaming education came largely from the men I worked with; Dark Souls, Call of Duty, Fifa and Metal Gear Solid being the popular recommendations.

But as I saved up more money, I took chances in the pre-owned section of our store. I went through a Disney Infinity phase, spent my fair share on loot boxes in Overwatch, and helped Nathan Drake find his long-lost brother once or twice in Uncharted. But something entirely new clicked for me when I first played The Last of Us.

In the multi-award winning 2013 release from Naughty Dog, we’re placed in the near-future where “the infected” now far outweigh the healthy. Our protagonist, Joel, is tasked with delivering 14-year-old Ellie to a rebellion calling themselves the Fireflies. He has no idea why. He just needs the money.

Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson play the two key roles, and this is where I really started to feel how much impact a game could have on a person. The performances they both give are simply astounding — when I describe the game to people, I tell them it’s literally like a movie that you are a part of. The developers created such a multi-faceted and real 14-year-old girl that I saw every bit of myself in her. Johnson’s portrayal even prompted one YouTuber to create a 30-minute analysis titled The Last of Us Changed My Life in which he states how the game made him realize that he wanted a daughter. That’s some real power right there.

It took me a while to find some truly fantastic female characters to connect with, being surrounded by men who felt I couldn’t play online or take on anything with real difficulty. So, here are four women from my favorite games that taught me otherwise.

Ellie (The Last of Us)

When I first played The Last of Us I was 16, just two years older than Ellie. Naughty Dog got everything right about her, from her slouchy teenage mannerisms to the way that, even during an apocalypse, she still thinks a zombie headshot is cool as hell. Ellie has her guard up constantly, but she does so with caution and a razor-sharp wit. We don’t always know what she’s thinking, but that’s okay — her feelings are complicated, and she doesn’t always do the right thing, but that is what makes her so real. I’d be proud to have half the strength that Ellie does.

Marlene (The Last of Us)

There is nothing more interesting than an antagonist who wholeheartedly believes what they’re doing is right  — i.e., villains who don’t know they’re villains. In The Last of Us, Marlene is one of the leaders of the Fireflies, the last remaining group still searching for a cure. We only meet Marlene twice in the game, first when she tasks Joel with delivering Ellie to a Firefly base, and once more when we finally arrive.

However controversial her ideas may be, I have always admired how Marlene stood by her morals. She believes fully that she must do whatever it takes to find the cure and that the Fireflies still have reason to hope. Ellie is somehow immune to the infection and Marlene believes she is the key to curing it altogether. It then becomes a complicated question of if Ellie’s life is worth less than those she might save — and who gets to make that decision?

These are the big questions, and they come with some fantastic storytelling. How The Last of Us puts the women to the front of it all is just another reason to admire it.

Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite)

In the final entry to Irrational Games’ Bioshock trilogy, it’s 1912 and you play as Booker Dewitt, who is first tasked with rescuing this mysterious girl from a towering golden statue on a floating city. It isn’t easy though, as she’s not quite the “princess in a tower” type you may have been expecting. On first meeting, Elizabeth will come running at you with a heavy book in hand ready to attack.

She has such an infectious enthusiasm for life from the very moment we meet her, having not seen much outside of her tower. Elizabeth also has more power than we first expect, eventually revealing she can tear holes in time and alter the very space you stand in. The developers at Irrational Games were clever to make a game companion like Elizabeth, one who isn’t always compliant with the direction you’re headed. This leading lady has ideas of her own and she’ll make them known.

Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

Lara Croft can do everything Indiana Jones or Nathan Drake can, but better. She is the shining example of how beauty and strength are not mutually exclusive traits. Since the 2013 reboot, we’ve gotten a far more fleshed out origin story for Lara, one that has shown us heart-breaking insights into her past and how she got to where she is now.

On a mission to prove to the world that her father hadn’t gone mad, for most of the new trilogy, she is hunting down Trinity, an ancient organization that seeks to control supernatural forces in the world and contributed to the destruction of her family and the death of her father

Lara can speak more languages than you can count on both hands, in all three games she is constantly learning. The more inquisitive you are, the more you learn. Lara takes you on an exploration of the depths of Japan, Siberia, and Peru while deciphering monoliths and ancient paintings. Lara is fiercely independent, resourceful, and respectful of the hidden worlds she discovers. She seeks to explore, never to control. We could learn a thing or two from the famous Croft.

Next. 11 video games coming out in 2019 that we can’t wait to play. dark

Of course, there are countless more strong women in video games. Who are some of your favorites?