The Top 7… Tasteful game heroines

Like comic books and movies, videogames tend to present an exaggerated representation of men and women. Dudes are typically muscle-bound meatheads with powerful jaw lines and a thorough understanding of all forms of combat, while women generally have back-breaking chests and dress like strippers regardless of their profession.

Above: Strong women, not exactly tasteful 

Lara Croft, for example, is a world-famous icon that carries an entire franchise. She’s smart, tough and more capable than the men she’s pitted against, yet still goes spelunking in skin-tight belly shirts and shorts too small for a fifth grader. Where are the female leads with a sliver of believability or appropriate clothes? Few and far between, it seems.

But that makes these seven standout portrayals all the more important.

7 – Jade | Beyond Good & Evil

Even though she has the superheroic trait of mastering multiple disciplines that each take a lifetime to perfect, Jade still comes across as a fairly normal person. True, she’s an expert martial artist, an adept photojournalist and rocks green lipstick, but when compared to most other game girls, she leans more towards competence than eye candy.

Above: Working to unravel an oppressive alien conspiracy 

By the time you’ve finished the game, Jade’s snapped countless compromising photographs, beaten back an evil regime and saved an untold number of lives, all without taking off her shirt. Her only negative comes from the ending, in which Jade is revealed to be a shell containing ancient power, not necessarily a normal girl at all. Oh. OK.

Most heroic moment: The game begins with Jade meditating near an orphanage, which also happens to be her home. Within two minutes, all hell breaks loose and she leaps into action, protecting not just the orphanage, but also the children being abducted by the DomZ Armada. Jade’s brief resistance cements her as an action star, shows her deep compassion for her friends and family, then sets the stage for the whole epic adventure.


Top 7

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  • hybrid616 - November 9, 2009 9:47 p.m.

    i agree with all of these choices, but i feel that samus has been somewhat objectified recently... just look at SSBB. also, no mention of meryl from MGS? i genuinely felt that i had let her down when i saw the bad ending for the first time. what other game character could do that? (if anyone even THINKS the "A" word, i will hunt them down...)
  • JiminyNickIt - November 9, 2009 10:03 p.m.

    I'm playing Fable II at the moment, and I was hopng to see Hannah here. I really liked how simple the way she subverted the stereotype of female warriiors in games was. In all the billions of games with characters with different strengths an weaknesses, there's always a strong, slow one and a girl. I've never played any other game where they're the same person. Glad to see her get a mention, though I'd have given her a place on the list.
  • mEgAzD - November 9, 2009 10:14 p.m.

    Another great article by Mr. Elston. Wonder how this will play out audio wise.
  • Amnesiac - November 9, 2009 10:15 p.m.

    I'm surprised you found seven. >_> But jokes aside, I'm interested to hear this discussion on T-Dar this week.
  • Samael - November 9, 2009 10:26 p.m.

    Very, very good Top 7. One of the best I've read in a while. We need more characters like this. I would personally have swapped 2 and 1 however. I feel that Samus is slightly more sexualized than Alyx.
  • Cyberninja - November 9, 2009 10:33 p.m.

    samus was a good chose she even was called a male in her insturion manaul
  • Unoriginal - November 9, 2009 10:56 p.m.

    Where is Hannah from? Oh, and completely agree with the list.
  • lovinmyps3 - November 9, 2009 11:03 p.m.

    Hmm, I would have thought Elana could bump at one of these girls. I totally agree about Zoey though, she's my absolute favorite heroine!
  • JustTheBoBreaker - November 9, 2009 11:08 p.m.

    Great top 7 and I completely agree with every women on the list (especially Zoey). I thought Elika from Prince of Persia could've had an honourable mention just for putting up with the one-dimensional main character the whole game.
  • 510BrotherPanda - November 9, 2009 11:33 p.m.

    It seems Samus gets to the to of women-themed lists pretty often. I didn't mind the whole "see-her-in-underwear" thing since the first one, but I think the Zero Suit gives people an excuse to keep her out of the suit for oogling. I've always thought of her as the Rosie Riveter of video games, replacing the muscle arm with a laser gun; "Yes, strong female characters CAN do it!"
  • Xeacons - November 10, 2009 12:07 a.m.

    Not bad at all! Have to love Samus and can't beat Alyx! But you have to apologize to Lara. She deserves a place on the list. Considering she was one the first memorable heroines, she's been the victim of more nude patches than anyone else. It's not the creators, or her reinventors who've made her "distasteful." In, and of herself, she always has been. Give her another chance.
  • Ninja-KiLLR - November 10, 2009 1:13 a.m.

    @hybrid616 i was wondering were meryl was also
  • El72125 - November 10, 2009 2:37 a.m.

    I think your list is missing a few very worthy females: - Elena from the Uncharted Series - Elika from Prince of Persia (2008) - Katie from GTA IV
  • TheWebSwinger - November 10, 2009 3:39 a.m.

  • Hurricrane - November 10, 2009 4:33 a.m.

    to be honest, I would have taken out NOLF, I loved the game, but Elena would have been a better choice to be an official entry in my opinion. I'm also surprised you didn't put Elika in for all Mr. Elston's love for PoP
  • aion7 - November 10, 2009 6:08 a.m.

    @TrigunGunner: She may have been fine in the story, but in gameplay, she was quite a bit weaker than Ephraim. Also, the other female characters in that game were fairly sexistly portrayed. Like Myrhh (Sp) who couldn't do anything on her own in the story, and became functionally useless after she was used too much in combat.
  • Ravenbom - November 10, 2009 7:30 a.m.

    Really? You think Metroid 2: The Return of Samus is "criminally obscure"? Anyways, I was thinking about last gen, and I know it gets mentioned all the time, but what about Amaterasu from Okami? True, she's naked the entire game, but she's tastefully naked, which not many heroines can pull off. Also, I know there's already an Alex on the list, but Alex Roivas from Eternal Darkness was a very tasteful heroine.
  • bloodyshadow - November 10, 2009 10:19 a.m.

    I know it's probably ironic, but I still think it's pretty damn funny that "A History of Game Babes" is in the "Want More?" section after the article. Good stuff.
  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - November 10, 2009 3 p.m.

    Didn't you write this list like 3 times already?
  • SuperBadnik - November 10, 2009 6:21 p.m.

    Lara Coft is tasteful. Shorts and a tank top hardley make her a porn star. Personally i think she's only "not tasteful" because she is the most famous female game heroine ever. And Samus Aran? The one who dances for the player in a pink bikini as a reward for completing the game? Seriously?

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