The cries of backlash to video games’ representation of females has been ongoing for years. Females characters have been constantly criticised from being sexualised to having no main role. From the evolution of Lara Croft with her triangular assets to strong modern-day characters such as Ellie from the Last of Us, I look on to how females have been represented in video games.
Lara Croft, the iconic protagonist of the Tomb Raider franchise has undoubtedly come a long way since the debut in 1996. Long-time fans will have noticed that in the 2013 franchise reboot, designers had opted for a less sexualised appearance for Croft.
The beloved Batman Arkham franchise was frequently criticised for its alleged misogynist approach to the female characters. Arkham City was the prime target for criticism for the frequent use of ‘bitch’ by male characters when referring to Catwoman. It is undeniable that the female characters were somewhat sexualised, but as it relies on source material, part of the characters’ personality is based on their sex appeal.
On the other hand, one legendary female character who mostly avoided this criticism is
Jill Valentine from the Resident Evil franchise. She has often been praised for her competence, skillset and for her strong character being far less sexualised than other females. However, the game designers have received some criticism for some of Valentine’s revealing costumes.
Ellie, the protagonist of the Last of Us has generally received praise for her captivating strong character. She’s also been applauded for her independence as well as LGBT depiction. Her relationship with protagonist Joel has also been well loved.
Feminist, Afreen said that: “I think women in the video game industry are sexualized to an unnecessary and unrealistic extent. Female characters in video games are usually just sidekicks to a “stronger” male protagonist. They’re simply viewed as cheerleaders and not seen as capable to be a part of the action themselves.”
In my opinion, if the game has a convincing storyline, enjoyable gameplay and interesting characters, I do not mind how a video game presents females. In fact, many of the mentioned games are in my favourites.