Breaking the Narrative Episode 29: Back to Gaming! Top Ten Strong Women in Vidya!


Welcome once again. I figure I’ve been going to a lot of different things lately so for the day before my birthday of January 10th I think I want to get back to basics. So I’m thinking something simple, a top ten list, something that can also be used to shut down various feminist arguments to boot. Now before we begin this is in no particular rated order, and also based on my opinion of what a strong woman is supposed to be. Also I may have mentioned these women in the past in this series, or I may not have, but this just means I’m pulling the best of the best into one spot. You might think differently so go ahead and offer up your own top ten if you would like in the comments. With all this in mind and resetting our minds, Let’s Hammer This In!

Starting off let’s get the most famous gaming female out of the way, Samus Aran! There isn’t much I can go into with her that I didn’t go into with her break down back in Episode 7. But to summarize for this she is the genetically modified half human/half Chozo bounty hunter raised to be in essence a warrior-monk after watching her parents killed in front of her eyes at the tender age of 3.

For the second on this list I’m gonna keep going up into the most obscure. As such we are going for Lara Croft, the successful British descended treasure hunter who has been seen in various extreme situations spanning multiple timelines. There are the obvious complaints about her physique and choices of attire. However, it didn’t prevent Angelina Jolie, who does have her physique, from doing some of the stunts in the film series, and the outfits were primarily utilitarian. In the first game a large amount of it was set in Egypt, a tepid and balmy desert. Robes wouldn’t have done for the climbing and scaling she had to do so it was lighter clothing that was needed for her spelunking. On top of that in all cases she is given the title of Lady by the Queen for her exploits and lineage, meaning she holds status in the British Court. Granted, it doesn’t mean as much in the contemporary, but its still something to consider.

Next on the list we will get a little scary and have fun with Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine. In the initial game she is recently honorably discharged from the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and is an expert locksmith when recruited to the elite S.T.A.R.S branch of the Raccoon City Police Department. In canon she saved her male counterpart Chris Redfield’s life by tackling well known series villain Albert Wesker out of a helicopter. Not to mention, she survived a city-wide outbreak while making her own ammunition soon after being discharged from her unit before helping start a Private Anti Biohazard Service which soon conglomerated into the BSAA: Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance. Needless to say she doesn’t take anyone’s shit.

I’m sure a lot saw number four coming, but here we are going with Miss Bayonetta, also known as Cereza. As an Umbra Witch she is contracted to a high level demoness known as Madama Butterfly. The nature of this pact hasn’t been touched too deeply into in the games and may be touched upon in either the anime or future games of the series. I have yet to watch the anime to be certain but since her memories as Cereza are sealed away by her rival Jeane that leaves the opening for her to relive the memories of the pact being formed. In addition to her abilities to summon her pactmate she is experienced in various weapons, including a set of four personalized pistols that she uses in tandem.  Not to mention she is of Amazonian physique at 7’7″ tall and can slow time to a crawl for herself and walk on walls. Needless to say she is an extremely well trained fighter whose relationship with the Infernal Mistress that she is bound with seems to border on complete respect from both sides to the point that Madama Butterfly doesn’t even mind Bayonetta’s ‘cheeky’ vernacular. In fact, she seems to enjoy it.

After that, we will go to a galaxy far far away with Bastila Shan. The female lead in Knights of the Old Republic across from your own chosen character as Revan. Shan is a Jedi Sentinel trained in the rare art of Battle Meditation. She breaks herself free when the then amnesiac Revan tries to save her. She becomes a hero of the Jedi Civil War when she defeated the then Sith Lord and after Revan’s departure becomes Grand Master of the Jedi Order, a title that is later inherited by her descendant Satele. As an expert with double-bladed lightsabers, she is not a woman any should take lightly. Ever serious and  stubborn, she is one of the best playable characters to keep at your side throughout the game.

For our sixth entry we are coming  back to a little more grounded of a bad ass. The Joy, The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater. Mentioned back in Episode 3 of this series she is loosely known as the Mother of the U.S. Special Forces, her COBRA unit playing a major part in World War II in this fictional history. She is revealed in Peace Walker to have been the first actual astronaut in secret to beat the Soviets, causing her great pain and anguish. However, she was a good soldier. As such she is the prime developer of the Close Quarters Combat fighting style shown in the later games and taught Big Boss everything he knew. Effectively this makes her Solid Snake’s grandmother in a way. Interesting, considering she is the literal mother of series antagonist Revolver Ocelot. Who she gave birth to via cesarean section on the battlefield.  This explains her unusual snake shaped scar as they were working under pressure. I said a little more grounded, not completely realistic.

Next, we have a woman from the same episode in the form of Alex Roivas from Eternal Darkness. As mentioned before she is an advanced mathematics student of a Washington university in the year 2000. Heading back to Rhode Island at the behest of her grandfather, she confronts the Ehn’gha trinity of Ancients, influenced by Lovecraftian lore of the Great Old Ones. Throughout most of the game she reads about these gods of the dead, including the prime god of the dead they usurped named Mantorok, as well as the journey of the Tome of Eternal Darkness and its wielder Pious Augustus. While this is going on she uses various weapons to defend herself from undead beings that have infested the estate from the hidden ancient city below. By the end of the third playthrough of the game Mantorok is revived and released from his binding put in place by Augustus. She may not be well trained and due to the mechanics of the game have a weakness with her sanity. However, the fact that she overcomes so much despite these roadblocks of inexperience and having such forces arrayed against her shows an immense strength of character that is hard to match.

Going on to number eight we are going to go to the last of the extremely well known series on this list. I guess for a top ten like this we just can’t avoid Final Fantasy, can we? Now its no secret that there are a plethora of strong women in this series but looking through the whole and reviewing the types of character development from each character I’ve decided that the strongest woman of Final Fantasy is from the sixth entry in the series: General Celes Chere, formerly of the Gesthallian Empire, seceding to the rebel group The Returners after being tried for treason for not following an order that would have violated her ethics. Celes is saved by the ‘treasure hunter’ Locke Cole (I know, terrible pun name there). Afterwards though she becomes one of the strongest characters and is effectively the lead for the entire second half of the game, the main lead of the first half being the esper hybrid Terra Branford. Celes is a Magitek Knight, a genetically modified human imbued with the magic of the espers artificially. Because of this process she is given the Runic ability to absorb spells through her blade to replenish her own magic reserves. But her strength doesn’t only come from physical strength. She bears immense mental strength as well, enduring torture, crises of conscience, and an attempt of suicide after the world was plunged into ruin, to get up and become a savior in her own right. Celes by the end of the game has definitely earned her title of General.

Next to last we have Jessica de AlKirk from the cult classic LUNAR series of games. As the daughter to former pirate Hell Mel, who has prior to the game only been beaten by her own late mother, she is the heiress to the leader of the port town Meribia. However, as an attempt to keep her ‘pure’ she was sent off to become a priestess of the Goddess Althena who created the world of LUNAR that they live on. She is a rare type of healer, one who can deal out as much damage as she can heal up.  She is no slouch, as her skill with a heavy mace makes her one of the rare healers you can turn into a frontline tank as well. This is due to her being half-beastman, inheriting the strength of her father’s genes. Even her love interest in the form of the bandit swordsman Kyle gets a little frightened when she gets really mad at the lecherous goof, namely because she has easily floored him a few times. If you are working on a healer character archetype in a tabletop game she is definitely an influence to consider.

Finally we have an entry from one of my favorite series, a staple too many in this age of gaming forget. Phantasy Star 4’s Alys Brangwin, named Lyra in Japan, was named as such in the American release to tie the series together more overseas. It’s implied that she is raised with the original game’s protagonist, Alis Landale, as an influence for her job as a Hunter. Eventually she gains the nickname of the Seven Stroke Warrior. She is shown not only as a mentor which I mentioned back in Episode 13 of this series, but also a powerful warrior in her own right who is experienced in the slicer type of boomerang weapons, along with basic blades. She is known sometimes also for her temper when she begins to hear someone get a little too intimate with her details, like her measurements for example. She is even so forward that despite not being the main character she is still the lead of the party for most of the game.

I know Sarkeesian is now backing FAR FAR away from video games and onto other geek pleasures. I hear she did a thing on the recent Rouge One movie. However I hadn’t had a chance to watch the film yet so I’m waiting to watch it before going into Sarkeesian’s bullshit there if I even think it necessary.  It probably isn’t, However, I do hope that this leads to one final nail in the argument that women aren’t well represented in video games. The fact that I can easily come up with a diverse top ten of legitimately strong women from over 30 years of video game culture and it not be solely populated with examples from my previous episodes on the subject is proof enough that feminism has absolutely no place in vidya.

You know what? As we near the inauguration of President of the United States Donald J. Trump, I think I’m going to do another top ten list… a top ten list of democratically elected women in history. Until next time, Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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About the author

Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="156344">3 comments</span>

  • I am happy to see Jill Valentine had made the list. In fact, the entire cast of Resident Evil women, both villainous and virtuous, are models of female independence. With a series as old and long-standing as Resident Evil around, I have no clue why anyone would make a claim such as “there isn’t stronk wimmins in gaemnig”. Pretending that Claire Redfield, Ada Wong, Rebecca Chambers, Sherry Birkins, Jessica Sherawat, Alexia Ashford, Excella Gione, Alyssa Ashcroft and others don’t exist in games that are readily available (and indeed still played by many) to this day only shows how low some people are willing to sink for the sake of preventing a feeble, unfounded narrative from shattering.

    Now, if you want REALLY strong female characters, play the visual novel Danganronpa. It’s on Steam, quite cheap, and doesn’t take long to finish. I won’t spoil anything; this is the sort of thing that is best experienced firsthand.

    • I’m glad you are pleased. The reason I picked Jill in particular in comparison to the rest of the women in the RE universe is very simple. No other woman has had as much of an effect on that universe as Jill had, seconded only by Claire Redfield. I also agree with your sentiments, its why this series even exists to begin with. Now as for Daganronpa, I am experienced with it however I’m saving that for a different situation entirely. The purposes of this list were to show who I saw as the strongest in all of gaming. Which you have to admit you’d be hard pressed to find a person who would disagree with the examples I’ve given. At least anyone with a modicum of intelligence.

  • That is certainly a important list, since Anita will always use multiple times many of those characters to try support her agenda ignoring the writing and purpose (Bayonetta being something close to a female counterpart of devil may cry’s Dante and how he is sexualized in his own way and etc)
    About next week top ten, I shall recommend as a proud Brazilian, our first female president and our second impeached president due to rock solid proof of her being corrupt (if she was a huge warmonger she would have been Hillary 2.0)

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