The Top 7… Tasteful game heroines

6 – Aya Brea | Parasite Eve

Remember learning about mitochondria in biology class? According to Parasite Eve's canon, they’re actually sentient beings bent on enslaving the human race. Through various means we can’t go into here, Aya Brea gains genetic abilities that enable her to fight these malicious organisms, making her just as fantastical as the mutated beasts stalking New York City. But before that, she was a stunningly accomplished woman that worked her ass off as a regular ol’ detective.

Above: Getting shit done 

Aya’s police background and comparatively mundane attire make her feel much closer to “real” than most other leading ladies. Additionally, her blond hair and penchant for finding supernatural trouble makes us wonder if JJ Abrams had Aya in mind when casting Fringe’s Olivia Dunham, this generation’s Dana Scully.

Inevitable objectification: Though she tools around in dirty cop cars wearing baggy jeans, most of the series’ official art portrays Aya in sensual positions and increasingly less clothing. There’s nothing wrong with being strong AND sexy, mind, it’s just that by the time Parasite Eve 2 rolls around, we see less “normal” Aya and more machine-gun toting, miniskirt-wearing combatress Aya.


5 – Faith | Mirror’s Edge

Forget raiding tombs – we’d rather leap from rooftop to rooftop with the sensibly realized Faith, who manages to be athletic, stealthy and attractive without relying on suggestive camera angles or physically impossible cleavage. She’s also dressed for success, wearing clothes runners actually don while hopping through parking garages. Time to buy actual pants, Lara.

Above: Faith disarming and KO-ing an armed guard

She also walks the extremely thin line between tough girl and “grrrl,” assaulting corrupt cops and turning her nose up at authority without coming off as a confrontational, overcompensating bully. Sometimes, in the pursuit of making a strong leading lady, creators go too far. Faith was a case of just-right balance.

Above: And then Kotaku pointed this out

Inevitable objectification: For every realistic depiction of women, there are about a hundred cases of people undoing all that hard work with one crass image. In this case, a forumite decided Edge’s official art wasn’t “Eastern” enough and changed Faith’s look to something more appealing to Asian audiences. On the left is the real version, while the right has larger eyes and significantly larger boobs with faint nipples poking out.

Tom Farrer, producer on Mirror’s Edge, had this to say:

“We wanted her to be attractive, but we didn’t want her to be a supermodel. We wanted her to be approachable and far more real. It was just kind of depressing that someone thinks it would be better if Faith was a 12-year-old with a boob job.”

On one hand we agree with Farrer, as changing facial structure is one thing, but adding visible nipples probably extends beyond cultural preference. On the other hand, knowing Faith (along with every other tasteful heroine) is systematically designed to be “approachable” and “real” makes her seem anything but.


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  • ThundaGawd - January 17, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    Agree with the list, but shouldn't Sheva from RE5 be in the honorable mentions as well? (True, the superiorly awesome Jill Valentine is already mentioned, but Sheva knew how to get sh*t done nonetheless) also, Shannah and Rose from Legend of Dragoon should get mentions. Shannah is born as the "moon child" which makes her the key to resurrecting the god of destruction who would then cause the apocalypse. While as Rose is over 10,000 years old, having fought and survived the first war between humans and winglies, then being forced to kill thousands of innocent people in order to hunt down and kill the equally innocent "moon Child" every 400 or so years in order to prevent the apocalypse.
  • MyriamD - January 5, 2011 8:25 p.m.

    If they rebooted the article, I'd want shout outs to the recent Lucy and Rebecca from Assassin's Creed (always dressed modestly, always both compassionate and badass), and actually, you know what? The wholesome nature of games like Harvest Moon makes for a lot of pretty cool girls, too. The whole series should get a "good job" head pat.
  • PatHan-bHai - February 23, 2013 11:22 a.m.

    yep...there are no boobs in Harvest Moon
  • mistervirtue - December 24, 2010 6:19 a.m.

    Sheva from RE5 was totally tasteful ingame.
  • guiarherodrummer1998 - November 28, 2010 3:36 p.m.

    where's Echo Tesla from the newest Guitar Hero?
  • sdmitch16 - August 21, 2010 8:35 p.m.

    Funny they called Samus the most tasteful female in gaming. Another site said before Zero Suit appeared in games, it was just like playing as a guy and had no effect thoughts of women. Then with ZS she was just another vixen. She's esp. sexual in SSBB.
  • Cosmis - August 20, 2010 5:29 p.m.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that so many Valve heroines made this list.
  • mrmorozov987 - July 8, 2010 6:04 p.m.

    Elena and Chell, yes!
  • pandasrock - December 21, 2009 9:11 p.m.

    to be honest i prefer bill then louis then zoey then francis
  • guiarherodrummer1998 - December 16, 2009 2:17 a.m.

    Having a girl as a heroine in a game is a great idea! It attracts men because, well, its simple. Man sees woman and goes "Ooh!" It's basic domestic logic.
  • PinkHairSasuke - December 11, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    Once I clicked on this I was thinking to myself, "Samus better be on here." Then there she is as #1! I agree that she should be #1 on the list.
  • Spritle101 - November 23, 2009 4:03 a.m.

    I agree with Hamsfork at Kotaku; the first one of Faith looks like a Japanese man with a stuffed bra. The wider eyes & larger breasts make the character look significantly more feminine. (I'm a girl, & if I say she looks like a dude, I mean it).
  • MyGameName - November 22, 2009 6:35 a.m.

    Of course, the manual of Metroid refered to Samus as "he".
  • soren7550 - November 21, 2009 2:43 a.m.

    Where the hell is Joanna Dark? She's so much better than everyone else on this list!
  • bugmenot - November 15, 2009 11:30 p.m.

    this list needs more april ryan.
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - November 14, 2009 9:54 a.m.

    I miss the NOLF games =(
  • usmovers_02 - November 13, 2009 9:17 p.m.

    What about Liara T'soni? She is SO the sexiest alien in Mass Effect and she doesn't even try. All she does is act intelligently and do what she can to do some good in the world. No slutty aliens here.
  • GameManiac - November 13, 2009 3:10 a.m.

    I KNEW it! I knew that Samus was going to be #1 the INSTANT I clicked to see this article! And was there REALL any doubt?
  • galogen - November 12, 2009 8:36 a.m.

    Who is the woman on picture on the right of Lara? I didn't see that game before.
  • pikachu2000 - November 11, 2009 11:44 p.m.

    You know what they all say: Sex Sells. Video games are an escape from reality and having a girl with curves, a chubby appearence, and scars will most defintly not fit the company's bottom line. There is a reason why we don't see too many "real normal" girls in games: They are very boring compare to the sexy ladies dominating the gaming world.