This is a list of 10 Video Games with women as the main or one of the main protagonists. To make this list, the female protagonists needs to be a playable character, have her own personal backstory, in control of her own body (sexually objectified female characters made so solely for the sake of fitting into male gamers' fantasies, are a no), characters such as Ivy from Soul Calibur. This list isn't a top 10 of games but simply 10 games with what I consider include proper, good, female protagonists. This is based on my personal gaming history, and so if you think of any game and character(s) that should make the next list, leave a comment.
[This list will contain spoilers.]
1. The Walking Dead Season 2: CLEMENTINE
The Walking Dead series is, in my opinion, the best of Tell Tale's that I have experienced, and although The Walking Dead's first season only allows you to play Clementine a few rare times, and mostly only at the end of the game, she isn't the main playable protagonists of the game until season 2.
In Walking Dead's first season, Clementine is an 8 years old little girl who is left at home with her babysitter while her parents are away out of the city. She is found and saved by the male main protagonist, Lee, played by you, who then cares and watches over her throughout the game. By season 2, now 9 years old, Clementine has greatly changed. Hardened by the events of season 1, and by the past eighteen months living in a zombie apocalypse, Clementine isn't the easily scared and in need to be protected and sheltered little girl that we watched over in season 1. Now a capable fighter, she is a witty and intelligent girl that easily sees through the adults that constantly try to make decisions over her, and control her. Playing the game through the eye of a child who experiences terrifying and dangerous moment one after the other, while constantly fearing death either by the hand of walkers or the adults she encounters, Clementine is an amazing character to play as well as the most interesting one without a single doubt.
2. Dragon Age 1, 2 & Dragon Age Inquisition: PERSONALIZED CHARACTER
Being quite a fan of the Dragon age series, it was obvious that it had to make my first list. The Dragon Age series though, does have quite a few issues with sexualizing secondary characters, or NPCs, as well as many sexist moments I have personally noticed on my own time, but for this list, I will focus on the main protagonist.
Not only does Dragon Age gives you the option of choosing to play a male of female character in all of its games, it let's you choose your character's race (human, elf, dwarf & Qunari), and gives you a list of various characters of all sex, gender, sexual orientation, race and walks of life to romance to choose from. The Dragon Age games offer you the same in game experiences regardless of the sex you choose for your character. Proper, rarely sexualized clothing is given and in a game where everything can change depending on the race (and sometimes sex) it is great to be able to create your own female Grey Warden or Inquisitor, and be the leader of your own quests.
3. Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly: MIO & MAYU AMAKURA
All of the Fatal Frame games have female protagonists, but for this list I will focus on Fatal
Frame 2 Crimson Butterfly follows Mio and Mayu. When Mayu, the oldest sister, who walks with a limp from an accident and is the skittish of the two, is drawn to an abandoned village by a butterfly, and her worried sister follows.
The game is a survival horror tale of sisterhood, which mainly follows Mio as she tries to find her sister while exorcising the ghost habitat of the village using a camera. The game focuses on the implied sacrifice that the two sister must go through, and later on, an even more horrible destiny forced upon Mio and Mayu. The game, which is about the two sisters, is also a particularly good game, and one of the best of the horror genre.
4. Mirror's Edge: FAITH CONNORS
It was more than obvious that Mirror's Edge would make the list, considering who it's main character is, and how original and beautiful of a game it is. Mirror's Edge is a game that deserves all the praise it can get and much, much more.
5. The Mass Effect Trilogy: FEMALE SHEPARD
I'd like to acknowledge right now that the Mass Effect games do have quite a few issues within themselves regarding the unnecessary sexualization of female character, most notably with the Asari, a mono-gender race of female aliens who are also more or less what I would define as "Pansexual" but at an intergalactic level - alas, they very often serve as the pun of sexual jokes or innuendos, as often reduced to less because of their sexuality and sexual orientation, and are the strippers of the galaxy...yeah. And so, for this, I will focus on Shepard, the female version. Although the female version of Shepard, the main protagonist of the trilogy, barely received any advertisement until the third instalment of the game, where she got her own trailer and (back side) cover of the game, she is, in my opinion, by far the better experience compared to her male alternative.
Having experienced multiple play-throughs of the game with both version of the character, Female Shepard not only seems to have better animated facial features, giving you the ability to truly empathize or cheer for her, but she has was given the absolutely amazing Jennifer Hale as voice actress and this...should tell you everything you need. Female Shepard has a voice that clearly emanates genuine emotions, which, for video games, is one of the most important thing you want for a main protagonist.
Similar to a lot of open world, choice driven game nowadays, the game gives you the option of many different characters of various gender, race and...well, race, to romance, creating the option for many woman/woman, man/man as well as heterosexual romances and relationships, which all matter and greatly affect your experience of the game, unless you don't want it to. Female Shepard doesn't see her story differ from her male counterpart on the basis of her sex at all, she is a commander, a leader, a friend, a lover, and a saviour of the world, and can be either the great force for good or the massive force of evil you can build her to be.
6. Tomb Raider (current): LARA CROFT
As many most definitely know, regardless of how hard we try to push that fact aside, Lara Croft, most likely the most well-known female video game character in gaming history has been sexualized, reduced to a sex object or fantasy and so on through the years...and although I have grown with the games and they will always remain beloved classics in my heart, I choose to entirely put aside all of the Tomb Raider franchise with the exception of the 2013 reboot; Tomb Raider.
Now with much more clothes on, the 2013 reboots is the tale of Lara pre-all-of-the-Tomb-Raider-games, Lara Croft before she became the Tomb Raider she became known as. We play as a much younger, naive and emotional Lara (which is very positive) as she and her crew become stranded on an island that isn't inhabited at all, where she much fight other people while adventuring throughout the very large island and discover its many secrets within its many tombs.Although the game presents you with a more "fragile" Lara, the experiences she is thrown into aren't for the softhearted, from an attempted rape, to her first kills, and her very, very many near death experiences, Lara grows a much thicker skin by the end of the game, but never loses her heart as she searches for her best friend and the rest of her crew.
This absolutely breathtakingly beautiful open world game was a complete re-experiencing of Lara Croft that I recommend to anyone and everyone.
7. Child of Light: AURORA
Child of Light will forever and always have a very special place in my heart. A game native of Montreal Ubisoft (so proud of you guys), Child of Light follows Aurora, young daughter of a duchess and duke from 1895 Austria who after the death of her mother, has developed a deep bond with her father until she wakes up in Lemuria and must journey across the land, defeat enemies and collect the sun, moon, and stars in order to return to her beloved father's side.
Child of Light is an absolutely beautiful and lovely game drawn like a captivating pastel painting, and we follow Aurora as she meets companions, learns, grows, learns to fly (literally), learns to fight, defines what it means to be a princess to HER, and as she thinks of her father, her love for him and his love for her. Aurora is strong willed, stubborn, strongly empathizes with the pain and struggle of others, and her strong desire for others to not treat her differently for her status as a princess makes her a particularly memorable character.
Child of Light is a love letter to the classic Japanese RPG genre, most precisely, the Final Fantasy franchise, and is a must play.
8. Life is Strange: MAXINE CAULFIELD
Max Caulfield is an 18 years old teenage girl who recently moved from Seattle, Washington to the fictional city of Arcadia Bay in Oregon, to a college where she will now take a course on Photography. Although she tends to be easily judgmental towards other kids her age (like, well, most kids her age) Max is a quiet, soft spoken, caring girl who is confused between the awkwardness of being alone in a town she used to live in with her family, and being in awe of the general very mellow Oregon vibe (something i have personally experienced and absolutely adore). The game, at first glance, with its look and it`s point and click, heavily choice based game play, strongly resembles Tell Tale games, but offers you all the good things and the story-lines that Tell Tale has yet to give us. After 3 years of silence, Max reunites with her childhood friend Chloe and awkwardness, tension and possible romantic tension ensues. You follow max as she experiences a changed Chloe, the many mysteries of Arcadia Bay, and the unsurprising incredibly dramatic life of a teenage girl among teenagers.
The game takes a quick turn to very serious subjects such as bullying, depression, violence, addiction, abuse, sexual abuse, and even rape, all through the eyes of an 18 years old girl who...just realized she can go back in time. At her side, with her friend Chloe, now all about that punk attitude and dealing with obvious issues herself, their relationship sometimes clashes and sometimes grows deeper as their stories together as well as their (possibly romantic??) relationship, which offers an interesting example of a more or less unhealthy and co-dependent relationship.
As the series is just about to release it's final episode of its series, I have yet to experience the ending of Life is Stranger, but there isn't a single doubt in me that the creators of the game at Don't Nod, have created a game I won't stop talking about for a least a good while.
(P.S: Big THANK YOU to Square Enix for being the ONLY one who didn't ask Don't Nod to change Life is Strange's main protagonist from a woman to a man, and a big fuck you to everyone else.)
Max's sexual identity as being queer/gay was also made cannon.
9. Resident Evil 1: JILL VALENTINE
The very first instalment of the hugely popular Resident Evil franchise is yet another game that holds a dear place in my heart, being one of my first experience with the horror genre. Now that I think about it, I truly feel like there was something particularly special about Resident Evil 1 and the fact that it gave you the option between playing as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine for the entirety of the game, which was, at least for me, a very first for an action/horror game.
In Resident Evil 1, Jill and the rest of her crew, members U.S. special police unit STARS, are trapped in a mysterious mansion where monsters seem to roam. Jill, along with Lara Croft and Samus Aran, is a character that is often very thought of when people think of female characters and female leads in video games, a character that has grown to be absolutely iconic. And for valid reasons.