Strong Female Characters in Videogames: Debunking a Myth [Video]

From Youtuber Asalieri2:

It’s time to brush aside the oft regurgitated myth that strong female leads in videogames are and have always been nonexistent or relegated to background or joke status.

So what do you geeks think? Is this guy right or do you think strong female characters should be more present in games in general? Let us know in the comments below!

[Asalieri2]




32 Responses to Strong Female Characters in Videogames: Debunking a Myth [Video]

  1. Is it just me or were there like maybe five characters in this video that weren’t from Japanese games, Final Fantasy, or Final Fantasy knock offs?

    I caught Samus, Bayonetta, Pokemon trainers…that’s about it. I’m sure I’d catch more on another view, but I can’t really get past the “I’m right, everyone else is bullshit” obnoxious, arrogant attitude. Which doesn’t really feel deserved for a video that mostly just says “Look guys, Japan has it (arguably) right. So just play those games and leave me alone.”

    And side note: if you’re going to ruin Yakko’s Countries of the World (which, yes, is itself a play on the Mexican Hat Dance), at least have the decency to use an adequate mic and less eye-searing text. Honestly, between the audio quality, the text, and the “anyone who doesn’t agree with me is crazy” opening, getting through just the first five seconds of this video was a chore.

    • “Is it just me or were there like maybe five characters ”

      Sorry dude…it’s definitely JUST you, and this was not even a complete list. Not to mention the fact that stipulating a need for games not made in Japan as they are the number 1 manufactured of those sold her in the US is just straight up insane. In logical circles we call that “Moving the Goal Posts”.

      Just search YouTube and they will give you a list of games without singing from video game history to date. He never meant for this short list to be all inclusive, but it’s impressive list(albeit abbreviated for the song) still is indicative of feminists being 100% Wrong, self absorbed and buried neck deep in their misandric syllogism.

    • Obnoxious arrogant attitude? Dude, the arrogance comes from the side of people saying there’s no strong female characters. Also Final Fantasy knock offs? That comment right there only shows your sheer ignorance in gaming.

    • Says practically nothing about Western Culture. The author decided to have a bias for Japanese gaming, and conveniently left out plenty of examples that turns their own thesis into swiss cheese. Frankly I’m all for strong female leads, but if the character is completely indistinguishable from a man in terms of personality (physical appearance matters little to me), then why not just use a man? In fact, why not just use a robot or alien entity altogether?
      Why does everything have to be a power struggle between males and females these days? Is the screeching of a few aristocratic anarchist harpies too much for our oversensitive Western culture to handle?

      • “but if the character is completely indistinguishable from a man in terms of personality (physical appearance matters little to me), then why not just use a man?”

        Since when were personality traits bound by gender? How do you decide whether or not a character has a “man-ish” feel to it? I mean, I’d get it if they were very masculine in nature, but almost none of the ones shown aren’t.

      • “Says practically nothing about Western Culture. The author decided to have a bias for Japanese gaming, and conveniently left out plenty of examples that turns their own thesis into swiss cheese.”

        No, he turned the argument itself into swiss cheese. This was to debunk the myth that there were no strong female characters in games. It doesn’t matter where the games come from. You clearly hold a bias for western games because you even made this pathetic excuse for an argument. Yeah, his argument wouldn’t mean much if there was just American games mentioned, but that wasn’t the debate topic. Your logical fallacy of moving the goal post doesn’t cut it.

        “Frankly I’m all for strong female leads, but if the character is completely indistinguishable from a man in terms of personality (physical appearance matters little to me), then why not just use a man?”

        You said this right after your very first sentence and completely contradicts it.

        “There’s not many women in American games. Why not just use a man if their personalities are indistinguishable.”

        That is literally your stance.

        That kind of thinking is part of the problem.

    • It tells us that most of our video games we play are made there…it tells us that it’s not the 80s anymore and you’re not playing Atari.

  2. …and I’ve never heard of 95% of them? And (almost) none of them were AAA games and correspondingly relevant to the debate? And lists characters like “Any female pokemon trainer” and the moving portraits in civilization and “we accidentally made her boobs 150% bigger than intended, and liked it that way”-lara-croft (well okay, it was better in the latest game of the series. But still…)
    This isn’t debunking, it’s pretty much proving the point. You know, nobody ever claimed there are no female characters in video games at all…

    • “…and I’ve never heard of 95% of them? And (almost) none of them were AAA games and correspondingly relevant to the debate?”

      Actually most of them were AAA games, most of them undisputed classics at this point.
      I mean, are you really going to claim that Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Metroid, Pokemon, Ms. Pac-man, Street Fighter, Civilization, Half-life, Dragon Ball Z, Mortal Kombat, and League of Legends are not AAA game series?

      “And lists characters like “Any female pokemon trainer” ”

      And what is wrong with them? The trainers are badass.

      “and the moving portraits in civilization”

      Are you saying that the women who LITERALLY CHANGED HISTORY are weak and pathetic characters? Are you kidding?

      ” and “we accidentally made her boobs 150% bigger than intended, and liked it that way”-lara-croft”

      Way to completely objectify Lara just because of physical appearance! THE WOMAN CAN KILL T-REXES WITH DUAL 9MM PISTOLS! DO YOU EVEN REALIZE HOW COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE THAT IS? You sit there and just judge her because she’s got what some would say is an attractive body, but can just totally ignore the things that really make her special! She’s smart, has a talent for archaeology, is a talented gunman, and has a likable personality.

      “This isn’t debunking, it’s pretty much proving the point. You know, nobody ever claimed there are no female characters in video games at all…”

      Except it does debunk the fact that women are under-represented as great and important characters in video games which people like Anita Sarkeesian would like you to believe. People like you and her seem to only see very superficial things like what a woman looks like or dresses like. Look at it this way, if you went up to a woman you’d just met and said “Gee, you look pretty, you’re probably just a slut.”, that’s essentially the same thing you’d be doing to these characters.

      This just severely disappoints me. No wonder this hobby never goes anywhere.

    • Yeah you’re right, you never heard of 95% of them. That makes you ill informed. That’s not the creator’s fault, that’s your fault bro.

      Oh and you can go ahead and move that goal post 500 yards, because the argument was there were NO strong female characters in video games. The argument has been debunked. You can’t say “There’s no strong female characters” and then turn around and say “I NEVER HEARD OF THESE CHARACTERS” when someone shows you evidence. You’re just being a child at that point.

  3. That western countries do their objectification in games, whereas the Japanese do their objectification in real life.

  4. Many of these characters are from ‘fighting’ games where the characters do not effect a story or reason for the game, you are just there to fight to the death or end of the match. Others are non-playable characters who just fill the story gaps. The were a small fraction of playable protagonists which push the story along and ultimately are the reason for the ending. To me, this video actually emphasized the issue.

    • Not really sure what you mean here by many of your points… Have you ever read the stories behind most fighting games? They are, to say the least, overly complex most of the times, and that goes for the female characters stories as much as the male ones. If you talk about just two-player mode gameplay, then no, there isn’t much impact, but the same could be said about male characters as well.
      Otherwise, most of these characters are party characters from RPG’s (japanese ones, mostly, yes) but that hardly makes them “non-playable”! Sure, many might not have the privilege of being the FIRST character you gain control over in these games (hence giving them the coveted “main character”-schtick), but that doesn’t mean that they lack relevance. Me and most others I’ve met usually prefer the other characters over “main”. What I mean to say is “protagonist” is a loose label when it comes to games like these, and most characters get a say to the end. If you feel miffed about the whom you control in the overworld in these games most modern games allow character selection for that.
      Now, could there be MORE female “main” protagonists in gaming? Sure, in many genres there is a distinct lack and the numbers could certainly be bolstered by a lot (though in other genres there is certainly oversaturation), but if you were looking you’d see that that gap is closing, albeit not instantaneously, which I consider a good sign for the future.

    • So the video that actually debunked the argument actually proved the argument. You’re absolutely delusional. Get over it, games are not going to be made the way you want them to be unless you make them yourself. If you can’t handle that, sell your shit and get a new hobby. Problem solved.

  5. Yeah no. All this video does is highlight how bad the issue is. I am really disappointed this showed up here.

    • I find it rather telling that you say that this just highlight the issue. Maybe it’s not us the gamers sexually objectifiying these women. Maybe it’s you. Everytime when you people are proven wrong, your only retort is “well you see, all these women just prove my point”. Do you just think women are sex objects? Do you see here how your logic is fucked up at all?

      In fact it’s worse than that, you people literally go one step further and actually say “oh, these characters are mostly from JRPGs, so they don’t count”. That’s absolutely disgusting. Just because they are not in the realm of what you want them to be, they are somehow irrelevant. How is this not misogynistic on a grand scale? These females don’t count because they aren’t in Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, so therefore their worth as a character is somehow less. That’s fucked up.

      So the only person you should be disappointed in is yourself. How long have you been a gamer? Probably not long, and yes I am going to make that assertion because your one sentence tells me all of your gaming knowledge.

  6. I agree with other comments that this did nothing to debunk the myth. A lot of the characters he mentioned are clearly being objectified in these games. I wish this hadn’t been posted here.

    • I am sorry but have you ever looked at how most men are portrayed inside games? They are either over fit or have a perfect face. You might say that man are also objectified inside games. And do you know why? Because it makes the games more attracting to people, why not have your characters have beautifull looks if that could make the game more appealing. In the end most game designers want their game to be perfect.

      • Ferenk2 is right. It’s about what sells. Unfortunately, the Video Game Industry is still a business and businesses exist to make money/profit. Without that, there aren’t new games or investors backing them to produce more.

    • How the fuck are Rena Lanford, Lenneth Valkyrie, Raine Sage, Samus, Tear Grants, and any other female in this list sexually objectified? Have you played any of these games? This just shows your lack of knowledge of these characters, again that’s not the creator’s fault. That is clearly 100% your fault.

      The myth was debunked, your feelings have no baring on the matter. Deal with it.

  7. Why does everyone have to take everything as an absolute? The video didn’t emphasis how bad the issue is, nor did it simply state that these were all the “strong” female lead chars. On some he’s correct and on some he’s wrong. But that’s my opinion and this video is *his* opinion based upon *gasp* his perspective. The fact remains that there have been some strong female lead characters.
    Franchise-wise Lara Croft comes immediately to mind. As does Bayonetta. Your opinion or ability to play those series means nothing as the point is there are lead female chars out there. Now that said, what isn’t said is how small the percentage of female lead characters to male lead characters is.
    But guess what? The industry *has* noticed and is slowly working to change this. What also is missed in this entire issue/argument is the percentage of females working in the industry itself. The number is higher than many may think. But they do exist and in lofty positions in many companies.
    The real problem isn’t just based upon lead female characters but how many still act immature and show little respect to players out there. There are a lot of issues that still need to be addressed but at least they *are* being addressed. I take that as a win.

  8. This video just lists characters who appear in games, not necessarily with much of leading role or even being strong characters. Bayonetta is an example of a sexualized character, and yes, she is strong, but part of what makes her who she is is being extremely sensual. I don’t have a problem with that, but at the same time recognize that while the game is terrific and I have enjoyed a lot, a lot of the sexual references are just fan service and not necessarily needed in the scope of the story.
    I deeper analysis of the characters presented in the video might show that some of the female characters would easily prove that some tropes repeat over and over.
    But, come on, the portraits in Civ series I can hardly put them in the same context of strong female characters.

    • “Bayonetta is an example of a sexualized character, and yes, she is strong, but part of what makes her who she is is being extremely sensual. I don’t have a problem with that, but at the same time recognize that while the game is terrific and I have enjoyed a lot, a lot of the sexual references are just fan service and not necessarily needed in the scope of the story.”

      Translation: I don’t have a problem with Bayonetta being sexualized, but I have a problem with Bayonetta being sexualized.

      “I deeper analysis of the characters presented in the video might show that some of the female characters would easily prove that some tropes repeat over and over.”

      Anita’s videos aren’t credible due to the proven confirmation bias they have, if you can make this claim give me proof.

      “But, come on, the portraits in Civ series I can hardly put them in the same context of strong female characters.”

      Wow that’s borderline misogyny. You don’t get to dictate what is or isn’t a strong female character, especially characters you don’t know. Just because they don’t fit your weak world view doesn’t mean they aren’t strong.

  9. The quality wasn’t the best, but it gets the point across. This was just a small list of the thousands of strong female characters in gaming. Feminists are whiny and will complain about anything though. When they’re proven wrong they make up excuses and ignore the evidence so no matter how many times we prove them wrong they’ll just keep complaining. Due to this the video is unfortunately a waste of time, because everyone who will care already knows he’s right.

  10. 100% spot on and he’s right, he literally missed so many games. He did get Phantasy Star 1, missed 2, 3, 4, PSO, PSO2, PSU, and PS Zero. Also missed World of Warcraft (although he did say any game where you make your own character.

    Yeah the feminists and their White Knights need to *

  11. I would love to see more video games with flexible character creation outside of MMOs. Let the consumer pick if they want to play as a male or female. There are ways to do it. And if they have the budget, they can even have different story lines. Heck, that just gives me a reason to play over again. Still, overall I don’t really have an issue with it either way. If people really don’t like the game for any reason, then sales suffer. I really enjoyed the Tomb Raider 2013 reboot. Odd how I don’t hear people complaining about male characters without shirts on, half naked, ripped, generally unintelligent, etc. Haters gonna hate I guess. I strongly believe in respecting women and everyone really. But do I really want all my games to be realistic and politically correct? When I game it’s normally to experience non-realistic things. But yes, I wouldn’t mind seeing more female leads outside of the Japanese gaming realm.

  12. I think it’s important to listen to both sides of a debate but a video like this kinda proves the point for the “feminists and their White Knights” (as one poster put it). There are thousands and thousands of games that exist and many of them have NO protagonist in them such as strategy games, puzzles, simulators, etc.

    The video’s point about females represented in fighting games is fair until you see that almost every example is a hyper sexualized objectification of women. The men in fighting games are usually over muscled eye candy too but they usually have much broader representation with body types and more clothing. Just look at the original Street Fighter II as an example of this.

    Role Playing games were a good observation too, most let you build whatever character you want to, which is great. The ones that don’t are problematic, the lead is usually a male and the females are usually the supporting characters. I’m sure plenty of people will be happy to point out the ones that this is reversed but they are the exception, not the rule. You can extend this to most adventure games like Bioshock: Infinite, Elizabeth is a great character but you’re sent to save her and she only helps you, any Zelda game, Zelda seems quite capable of handling things on her own in many of these but you have to save her and she’s regulated to a supporting role, The Last of Us, father figure with a girl who he keeps safe and helps him. Lara Croft is an obvious exception, but do we even need to debate how she’s represented in the games? She’s the archetype of all sexualized heroines in games. Samus Aran is a much better example wearing practical armor and not having her tits thrown in our face every 5 min.

    The Pokemon trainers are an interesting case. Yes, there are many female trainers but who’s the face of the franchise? Ash, the boy. This is an issue in other games. Mass Effect series, you have a very diverse cast and you can play as a man or woman, which is great. But who is the face of the franchise? The male Commander Shepard. Resident Evil is a nice exception to this but it’s just that, an exception.

    I don’t want every character to be female, which would be just as ridiculous as every character being male. Women need to play a larger role in the industry as a whole. Thankfully more are being hired and will be able to influence games in the future but right now many still face prejudice and hostility simply because they are women. This is a larger issue in a society that women less for the same job, where women don’t feel they can report sexual assault because they’ll be slut shamed or just not believed.

    If you want to see examples where you can have good/strong male and female characters side by side look at The Walking Dead, games or TV show. When reporters ask Joss Whedon why he still writes these strong women characters his response was “Because you’re still asking me that question.” No one ever asks why you write strong male characters.

  13. “Jimmy, drop the knight in shining armor routine. It suits you sometimes, just… not now. I don’t need to be rescued.” Sarah Kerrigan

  14. *sigh … If you don’t have data to make a real argument: like counting non sexualized/sexualized main/side characters of all computer games from a period of time. How about making a song to get some emotional impact.

    Reason for many female characters from Japanese: They have more supporting female characters for the main protagonist. Japanese have Hāremu manga/anime shows… videogames maybe just another variation of this. And if the main protagonist is male ofcourse you will get lots of female characters competing for him.