Growing up, video games were definitely a “boys thing”. Recesses were spent hearing about the latest characters, plot twists, and which game let you blow a zombie’s head off in the most gruesome fashion.
Back in the 2000s, there simply wasn’t the gender representation in video games that there is today. As a result, I clung onto a (small) handful of strong female characters that weren’t damsels in distress or sexualised to the nth degree.
Thankfully, a change is (slowly) coming. Characters like the strong Aloy in PlayStation’s Horizon series – including the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West set to be released on February 18 – show that equality is in the works.
Aloy is a young huntress of the Nora tribe and the genetic clone of 21st century roboticist and engineer, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck. Aloy and the AI system she was created in was implemented by Dr. Sobeck after a plague wiped out life on earth. Aloy’s purpose? To stop a rogue AI from reactivating the plague and ending life (what little of it is left) once more.
In the latest Horizon Forbidden West instalment, Aloy leads a quest of companions through the Forbidden West to find the source of the plague. Along the way, she meets unfamiliar terrain ravaged by both storms and machines as well as conflicts with raiders who are using AI machines for war.
TLDR: Aloy is a badass. To celebrate Aloy’s latest story in the Horizon series, here are the strong female characters who came before the huntress and what they taught me about life.
Aveline de Grandpré: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
First released in 2007, Assassin’s Creed didn’t have a female protagonist until 2012. But Aveline de Grandpré is now considered a shining example of racial and gender representation in video games. Set during the 18th century in New Orleans, Aveline’s objectives are to defend abused slaves and fight for their freedom as well as eliminating her mortal enemies.
Born to a wealthy French merchant and an African slave, Aveline notices the contrast of her heritage amongst society and at just 12 years old, promises to fight against injustice.
A positive ideology for any teenage girl to remember.
Alice Liddell: Alice: Madness Returns
A horror hack and slash action-adventure video game, Alice: Madness Returns is a reimagining of the classic tale of Alice In Wonderland. It follows the story of Alice Liddell, a young girl suffering from trauma after a family tragedy. After being discharged from the psychiatric clinic, Alice lives in an orphanage but to heal her trauma, Alice must fall into Wonderland where everything is not what it seems.
In this game, our beloved Alice is dealing with debilitating trauma while also fighting monsters and enemies. Proving that even when you struggle with mental health issues and trauma, you can still be strong and powerful.
Buffy Summers: Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
Okay, this one may be a bit clichéd but I told you we didn’t have many options in the 2000s. Based on the hit franchise, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, this video game takes place in the show’s fifth season.
As our favourite ’90s protagonist, in this game, Buffy Summers faces an army of monsters to keep the world from permanent darkness. Featuring vampires, zombies and demons, Buffy and her friends fight for goodness. As well as being a feminist icon, Buffy in Chaos Bleeds shows that friendship and doing the right thing will always prevail.
Although there’s clearly a long way to go when it comes to gender diversity in video games, characters like the above forged the way for a world where Aloy can defend the world from plagues. And that’s main character-smashing-the-patriarchy-energy, tbh.
Horizon Forbidden West, released on February 18, 2022, is a PlayStation Exclusive, available for PlayStation 5 & 4.
Game Classification: M Science fiction themes and violence.