Apropos of nothing, we present a few examples of roles for strong women from a handful of our favorite video games.
Leaving home, getting revenge, living a good life
Fire Emblem opens with Lyndis in her yurt, biding time and sharpening her sword, having escaped the slaughter of her family and tribe by bandits. She sets out with a couple of goofy knights-errant, is recognized as the long-lost child of royalty, gets a magic sword, reunites with her grandfather, unravels a plot involving an evil general, and resolves the plot by cutting said evil general to manicotti-size chunks with her magic sword.
Then what? Well, depends on how you played the game. Maybe she enjoys the new life she’s found in the castle. Or maybe she takes her lover and rides back out to the plains, to re-establish her tribe.
Saving Orange Star from a scourge of adorable jeeps
In a series full of commanding officers with “endearing” traits and weaknesses, Advance Wars‘ Sami is the truly competent one. The secret to winning any round of Advance Wars is flooding the map with unyielding phalanxes of infantry, expertly deployed. While Andy’s off complaining about alien clones and Max’s artillery is misfiring at arms-length, Sami’s infantry and mechs are FIDO, keeping the roads clear, the cities that delightful shade of orange, and the fog of war lifted from every forest and mountaintop.
Ushering in an age of peace and admitting your entire planet to the Kingdom of Heaven
If you didn’t play Septerra Core back in the day, you missed out on one of the big, weird worlds of role playing games: a series of floating continents orbiting in layers around a central god-computer. Maya is the person who navigates the planes, cultures, and sci-fi trappings of Septerra Core in order to assemble a rag-tag bunch of fugitives who eventually (spoiler alert) take their planet back from the 1% and literally reshape it into what it was always meant to be.
Maya’s resourceful competence is the through-line for a game and story that, without it, probably wouldn’t hold together too well.
Keeping the lights on, investigative journalism, demonstrating mastery of melee combat martial arts, running an orphanage, taking down a secret moonbase and the alien cabal therein controlling the planet…
…piloting hovercrafts and spaceships, performing citizen science, raising the dead, sneaking through enemy facilities, rescuing super-soldiers, putting an end to human trafficking, practicing computer-augmented telekinesis, exploring islands at sunset, losing at air-hockey, fomenting revolution, and wearing lots and lots of green.
Jade, the heroine of Beyond Good & Evil, is pretty awesome.
You tell me
Of course, there are the many, many video games that let you create or customize the characters you play. It’s interesting to note that some of these let you roll a female character, only to emit dialogue written for a man, from a male perspective (example: Fallout 3). Other games do a much better job of it (example: Fallout).
When I was a kid, I played the heck out of Elite. The little wireframe starship you pilot is captained by one Commander Jameson. Sometimes he was a man. Sometimes (especially after I saw “Alien”) she wasn’t. You’re trading water, narcotics, and equipment with aliens. You’re dodging pirate attacks and salvaging space wreckage. Who the heck knows who’s sitting inside that cockpit, pressing ‘M’ to launch missiles, or ‘E’ to flip on ECM? That’s right: you do.Tweet
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Brian Kerr has written 4 posts on Delta Attack.