In the past few years, feminist critiques of video games have become a hot debate in the gaming community. But there is still a long way to go for games to be completely inclusive and representational. Yet, even among the industry’s early humble attempts to diversify female character archetypes, we can find and praise charismatic and inspiring women and speculate where we can proceed from here. Whether you believe that we live in a post-feminist world or that the progress has just started, let’s celebrate where we got so far with some of the best, most badass feminist game characters that represent the female spirit.
D.Va – Overwatch
Michonne – The Walking Dead: Michonne
Michonne is not playing around. Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Michonne was an episodic mini-series, but grew into a standalone video game in 2016. Throughout the course of the game, Michonne deals with her own emotional problems and undergoes a serious character development. In the video game, she is not huge on running around and slashing zombies, but personal development arguably takes more courage and strength than pure combat. If your worst enemy is yourself, then Michonne is really a great fighter. And I personally can’t wait to see more games about her.
Alani – Battleborn
Alani fights for the Eldrid faction as both a healer and a warrior. Combining grace and ferocity, she is a precise martial artist in the classic warrior monk role. This is a role that is most often delegated to male characters in video games. While Alani can throw some puzzling lines in the game, she is not nearly as insane as some other Battleborn characters (well, almost all of them). Some game fans were upset that a warrior monk type would look like an anime girl, but why couldn’t she? After all, at the end of the day, she is fun, she is cool, and she controls water!
Irelia – League of Legends
Irelia from League of Legends is an interesting character. As a playable champion, she was so good at everything she did that the game developers reduced her power levels multiple times, thus creating a community meme “better nerf Irelia.” Despite many “nerfs,” she has stayed mostly unchanged and retained her unique game identity.
Lore-wise, she is known for wielding a 4-blade weapon to defend her homeland Ionia against foreign invaders (for which she received the Captain of the Guard title). Game-wise, Irelia carries a sharp, resolute vibe. With her ability to reduce stun and slow effects, she dashes around and becomes hard to pin down. As Irelia says in the game, “True will cannot be defeated.”
Spectre – DotA 2
I have to admit that I am a little biased here because Spectre is my favorite character in DotA 2. However, there are several objective qualities that earn her a place on this list. So why is Spectre so badass? For starters, she is not a humanoid or even a monster. She represents a mysterious and volatile energy, taking a temporal form in the physical world of this game.
In the game, she is a powerful hero both offensively and defensively, becoming one of the best heroes as the game progresses. Hardly any other hero can match her strength after a certain point. And what I really appreciate is that despite her identity as a vortex of violent energy, Spectre retains subtle yet distinctly feminine features in her voiceover and appearance. That makes her a multi-dimensional and complex character.