When you think of video gamers, society has programmed you to think of young males, headsets in place, gaming for hours with friends.
Gaming is so much more than that, with a much more broad and varied appeal across ages and gender. 50% of Australian gamers are female, whilst 78% are adults aged 18 or over, with the average age thought to be around 34-years-old. Gaming is moving forward, and whilst some preconceptions may take longer to eradicate, it is an industry that thinks ahead, evolves and appeals to all ages and walks of life. Here on Beautiful Inspiring Creative Life, we have spoken about games we like, Animal Crossing and Sims 4, both of which are games which have a dedicated female fanbase. Increasingly titles have been released which not only appeal to female gamers but boast a protagonist who is female, further promoting strong role models within the industry.
The obvious female protagonist that springs to mind is Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider series, but her 1994 appearance was only the start of a cascade of females who have shaped the world of gaming. Here are three of our favourites from much more recent titles.
Ellie – The Last of Us
Fans of Naughty Dog’s Last of Us series feel they have grown up with Ellie, a character who developed from the first game to become the main protagonist in the second release. Survival horror has become a popular genre, not least as technology has allowed for sophisticated baddies and involved musical scores that build the atmosphere. TV shows such as The Walking Dead have helped quench people’s zombie thirst on the small screen, but Ellie and Joel redefined the genre on consoles. The Last of Us was one of the first survival horror games that took the concept of a female lead and shifted it around – there was no freedom fighter style, special forces trained woman kicking butts, instead, the presented a vulnerable girl who could be you or I. Watching her develop and grow felt like a journey, and now Ellie defines the modern video game hero.
Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn was an ambitious title that blended Viking themes with a more mechanical, futuristic twist. It might have been labelled as geek paradise, but they innovated even more by not only introducing a female lead but one you saw grow up from being a baby in this strange Norse-inspired world. Norse imagery has become increasingly popular in recent years, and Horizon Zero Dawn certainly drew on that before other big titles such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Indeed, such themes have become popular across pop culture, on mobile devices and on your television. Gaming giant Foxy Bingo has several games which rely heavily on Norse themes, such as Norse Gods and Giants, and War of Gods. TV show Vikings helped drive the period forward in common culture too, as did some aspects of Game of Thrones. However, unlike Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn, none mixed Norse mythology with mechanical dinosaurs with a strong female lead, making this a unique hit.
Evie Frye – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
The Assassin’s Creed games have trialled giving the player an option of being male or female, with Eivor in the recent Valhalla game, and Kassandra in its predecessor, Odyssey. Whilst optional gender changes are good within gaming, it was refreshing to see a dedicated protagonist entering the mainstream AC world back in 2015, with the last of the original games, Syndicate. Set in Victorian London, Evie Frye was a smart-talking twin with a unique skillset which made her essential for certain tasks. This game was vastly underrated, judged perhaps on the critically panned game which came before. Evie was a rounded, enjoyable character to play with a major shift within Ubisoft’s popular franchise which has carried forward to this day.
This post was contributed by Simon Lane.