Very cool list. One little slight mistake though. In the “Games with Optional Female Protagonists” section Silent Hill 3 is in there. You can only play as Heather in that one.
They might have been thinking about the Silent Hill 2 “directors cut/greatest hit versions” where you have a side story playable with Maria.
Silent Hill 3 should be in the Main list.
EDIT: Oh noticed Blood is in the main list. Caleb is the protagonist in that one. Unless there’s another game called Blood with a female lead that I’m unfamiliar with.
Hmm Resident Evil ( I assume I mean RE 1?) should be in the optional list.
Most of the recent Final Fantasies have leading female characters, a few exclusively female, but none are listed.
If you start paying attention, there’s many possible improvements to the list. I’d start with adding a gazillion billion games to the ‘optional female protagonist’ category, for instance a lot of RPG games and series (every Fallout, Ultima VII, etc). And in California Games the footbag man is a man and the roller-skate woman is a woman, always. Does that count as optional? Does that count as protagonist?
What about “invisible immortal godlike being” protagonists in games like Simcity and X-COM? Civilization has male and female figureheads, so I guess that’s sorted.
And just plain ‘YOU’ protagonists, a la Zork? Figure that out! Ok, I’ll stop.
Interesting list but some games have female characters for the amusement of male players. Bayonetta is an example. Reminds me of that article about why some male players chose a female character as an avatar.
Just to keep in mind.
I’d like to add that I only recognize a very small number of games in the ‘female protagonist only list’, and I’ve played a bunch of games. Guess we could use a few more?
Kings quest 4: The perils of Rosella
Another series to add to the list:
The entire Civilization series, since at least 2
Also, since it’s an excuse to talk about one of my favourite games , I’d like to bring special attention to Alpha Centauri.
Three out of the original seven canonical protagonists are female, which increases to five out of eleven with the expansion (Ignoring the aliens, as I’m not even sure that the concept of gender would translate here). The game then allows any faction to customise their leader, allowing for a male or female lead in every faction in the game. As the other possible protagonists then become your antagonists in-game, the game also passes the gaming equivalent of the bechdel test. Your character is going to be talking about a whole range of things one-on one with the other faction leaders. Trading technology, conducting diplomacy, or lobbing insults and declaring war. It’s up to you.
The other thing that’s great about the game in this particular context (There are lots of other things that make it awesome in general, but if I start on that, I’ll never stop.) is that none of the characters is just dumped into the game as the generic female option. All of the characters, regardless of gender have well fleshed out backgrounds, motivations, and opinions which drive their actions, and reactions to the player. Crucially, the game also allows the female characters to be truly equal- they’re just as annoying, aggressive, and plain infuriating as anyone else, as anyone who has encountered them on a bad day will know.
No matter the gender of the main protagonist, the majority of video games lack a genuine female voice and perspective. Propagandized violence and aggression are still the structural focus of most games even when the semi-nude female hero is the playable character.
No Eternal Darkness? You play as multiple characters, and several (but not all) of them are male, but the protagonist, hero and “chosen one” that links everything together and fights the final battle is female. Also bonus points for the option of a female villain, in as much as a sanity-destroying eldritch abomination can be female.
EDIT: They also missed Starcraft: Heart of the Swarm. Maybe not the best example of a strong or non-objectified female protagonist, with the skin-tight catsuit and Zerg monster-boobs, but Kerrigan is unquestionably the player character and the story focuses on her revenge. The original Brood War might partially count also, as for the final third, you basically play as her (or at least as an unnamed commander of her forces) and she completely wrecks everyone who goes up against her. Granted, this is a bad thing because she’s a tyrannical alien monster at this point, but she’s literally the most powerful being in the known universe at that point, and arguably a stronger female pro/antagonist than in the newer game.
Those were just the ones that I noticed right away.
It’s rather obvious that the list is incomplete and unpolished however, it does say in the beginning that it isn’t a complete list and that it will be added too.
I think including games only with a tangible protagonist or where a s/he/ is referenced would be a better option.
Otherwise every single game in existence would have to be on the list.
Yeah say Zork or hell, even Tetris being included would kinda odd.
Well, if protagonist == playable characters, Final Fantasy X-2 definitely fits the bill. While the linked list doesn’t have any of the Final Fantasy games, the most of them are mentioned in the reader-contributed lists in the Escapist thread. FFXII has Lightning, FFXII has Ashe, FFX has Yuna, FFIX Dagger, FFVIII Reona, FFVII Tifa & Aerith, and FFVI has Terra and Ceres, as leading or co-leading characters within each games group of playable characters… Granted except for Ashe and Lightning they’re also the love interest of the main male character.
Huh, Ashe is actually an inversion, since she’s out for revenge for her husband’s murder, instead of the other way around.
I would like to avoid assumptions about what qualifies as “a genuine female voice and perspective”, so the way I would put it is: most games featuring women are still made for men. Notice, however, that fighting games (the go-to source for semi-nude female heroes) are largely absent from that list. Baby steps?
Of course. Not really ‘optional’ though, are they?
No, they’re not; they’re improvements to the first part of the list.
That said, I’m not sure any game where you provide the protagonist can be said to have a female protagonist, even if the game provides the the option to make it female.
Yes baby steps. But not only are most games made for men, but are largely made by men as well.
Well, yes. The two go hand-in-hand.
Sort of. On the other hand, the civilization you play is the one leaderhead you never see.
You know what’s missing? They need a list of games where you can’t play a female character, but you can rescue one. Are there any of those?
“The two go hand-in-hand.”
…Two men holding hands in a video game…I wonder how many games would be on that list…
Speaking of, is there a single video game with an openly gay protagonist? And I don’t mean a homosexual romance option, the way that Bioware does it.