Best female video game characters

Videogames used to be the home of the overly muscled, hyper-macho hero. Nowadays, girls have someone to look up to in games as well. Read below for six of our favourite female characters.

Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn

Although video games have come a long way to achieving true gender equality, Horizon Zero Dawn‘s Aloy is the very definition of fair treatment of a female character. She’s unsexualised, and free to be herself, as part of a tribe that worships a matriarchy. This allows Aloy’s character to develop without the ongoing cliche of her being a female in a man’s world. Aloy’s outfits are practical, she’s straight-talking, intelligent and a more than capable warrior. Even though she lives in a futuristic world with robot dinosaurs, Aloy feels utterly believable. I believe that Aloy’s creation for Horizon Zero Dawn is a landmark moment for gender equality in video games.

Ellie – The Last of US

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Ellie in The Last of Us Part II. (Credit: Naughty Dog)

Ellie in The Last of Us is the quintessential survivor. She’s tough, independent and complex. The Last of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, where the majority of people have succumbed to a zombie-like infection to which Ellie is immune. Ellie was born after the outbreak, which gives her a unique perspective on life. At only 15, she’s perhaps a bit naive to begin. Soon however, she has no other choice than to become a hardened survivor: doing whatever it takes to survive. Ellie was only a playable character for segments of the game, but will be the lead protagonist of The Last of Us: Part II, which is still in development.

Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

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Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot. (Credit: Square Enix)

Lara Croft is perhaps the most famous female video game character of all time. The treasure hunting heroine has  featured in several games spanning from her first appearance in 1996, and has had two movie adaptations, where she has been played by Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander. Her appearance is well known, with her sporting a ponytail, tank top and dual pistols. Her original appearance has since faced criticism for being sexualised, but in 2013, Square Enix Studios rebooted the franchise with a more grounded and realistic Lara Croft that has achieved much critical acclaim.

Chloe Frazer – Uncharted

Another treasure hunter, but the similarities to Lara Croft end at their shared profession. Chloe Frazer is a unique character in that she works from her own moral compass and always puts her own interests first, but is still ultimately good. She plays off the personality of the Uncharted series’ protagonist, Nathan Drake, in that she is almost his darker counterpart. The player is never sure of her intentions or loyalties, but in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, we see her more heroic side come through. She is incredibly enjoyable to watch interact with the series’ characters, as well as in her own spin-off title, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. 

Senua – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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Senua in Senua’s Sacrifice. (Credit: Ninja Theory)

Senua, the protagonist of the dark fantasy story, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice suffers from psychosis. The developers made a special point to include the characters mental illness in order to raise awareness of the condition. Hellblade follows the journey of Pict warrior, Senua, on a dangerous journey to claim her dead lover’s soul back from the goddess Hela.  It is strongly implied that the story is taking place inside Senua’s head, and the developers worked with neuroscientists and people suffering from psychosis to achieve an accurate representation of the condition. Senua is strong not just because she battles physical enemies, but also the demons in her own head.

Ciri – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, or Ciri, is one of the main characters in a series rife with powerful women. Ciri is the adopted daughter of the game’s protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, who has been missing for several years, but has now returned with the evil Wild Hunt in pursuit, who plan on using her for her magic blood. Once Geralt has collected all of the clues to where Ciri has been, the player gets to reenact past events as they happened by playing as Ciri. A trained monster hunter herself, Ciri is an expert with a sword as well as possessing magic abilities. Even though she has had a tragic upbringing, Ciri remains strong and strives for the greater good.

Freya – God of War

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Freya in God of War. (Credit: SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Freya in God of War is an especially interesting character. She is the God of War universe’s version of the Norse Goddess Freya, the wife of Odin. In God of War, she is now divorced from Odin and is living in the woods of Midgard, looking after the living beings of her woods. She comes to the aid of the protagonist, Kratos, several times over the course of the story. Freya’s son, Baldur (brother of Thor), acts as an antagonist to Kratos, and wants to kill Freya in revenge for her making him invulnerable – as it came at the cost of him being unable to feel anything. (Spoilers) Kratos kills Baldur to save Freya, but Freya hates Kratos for killing her son, giving an unforgettable warning:

“I will rain down every agony, every violation imaginable, upon you… I will parade your cold body from every realm, and feed your soul to the vilest filth in Hel, that is my promise!”

It appears Freya will be an antagonist in the next God of War game, and if she lives up to a portion of what she promised, she will make an excellent villain.

The 158-year-long battle for abortion rights in Northern Ireland

This year, as with years gone by, International Women’s Day is a chance for women in Northern Ireland to remind the world that reproductive rights are still not a given in all parts of the UK.

Women in Northern Ireland have severely limited access to abortion compared with the rest of the UK (Credit: Rachel Lee)

A lot has changed for women in the United Kingdom in the century since International Women’s Day was first established. The 20th century saw strides made in voting rights, access to contraception and equality in the workplace. For a contemporary issue, the official theme of International Women’s Day 2019 is “balance” – balance across boardrooms, media coverage, sports, and other less-than-progressive sections of society.

But for women in Northern Ireland, the most pressing issue of today is more fundamental – and one that has its roots all the way back in 1861.

It was in that year that the law governing access to abortion in Northern Ireland was passed and remarkably it still stands today, ostensibly unamended, 158 years later.

That’s why for many activists and human rights organisations the current battle over reproductive rights is what International Women’s Day (IWD) 2019 is all about.

“In Northern Ireland, we can’t talk about any other area feminism until people have the right to control their own bodies,” says Emma Campbell of Alliance For Choice, the largest pro-choice campaign group in Northern Ireland.

“The impact that has on the rest of your life – it’s economic, it’s mental health, it’s physical health, it’s about your family life and your job prospects. It kind of covers everything.”

These sentiments are shared by other activists who want to place the focus of IWD on reproductive rights.

“Whilst it’s fine to celebrate the gains made by women in the last 100 years, IWD has to be a protest against the massive oppression women still face in society today,” says Cerys Falvey, of the campaign group ROSA, a socialist party affiliated women’s group.

Northern Ireland is unique in Western Europe for having the tightest controls over abortion, behind even the Republic of Ireland which voted in favour of legalising abortion during the “Repeal the Eighth” campaign of May 2018.

The 1967 Abortion Act that governs access to abortions in the rest of the UK was never extended to Northern Ireland. Instead, there’s only the Offences Against the Person Act, which makes it illegal for any woman to cause herself to have an abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

Punishment for violating the 1861 Act can include life imprisonment. This is prompting many campaigners, including the Labour MP Stella Creasy, to point out that it is theoretically possible in Northern Ireland for a rape victim who has an abortion to be given a harsher sentence than her rapist.

This has lead to a situation where women have to choose between having an abortion illegally, most commonly by taking pills bought online, or travelling to Scotland, England or Wales to seek out safe, legal abortions.

According to Amnesty International, an average of 28 women a week make the journey to mainland UK in order to terminate their pregnancies.

This statistic was used by campaigners in late February, when 28 women, including actors from the popular BBC series “Derry Girls”, delivered suitcases filled with petitions to Westminster calling for the relaxing of Northern Irish abortion laws.

Actors from the hit TV series “Derry Girls” were among the women who delivered Amnesty International’s petition to Westminster in February (Credit: Amnesty International)

“28 women shouldn’t be travelling to the rest of the UK a week. We really need people in England, Scotland and Wales to put pressure on their MPs because our MPs in parliament, half of them don’t sit and the other half are the DUP who don’t properly represent the wishes of even their own voters” Campbell says.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning parliament for over two years, which some people say prevents any hope of reform as health is a devolved issue.

But in June 2018 the UK Supreme Court ruled that access to abortion for women was not only a health matter but a human rights matter as well, which would make Westminster responsible.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, who has been facing calls to resign all week has contradicted this verdict, however, and there is no sign yet that Theresa May’s government will tackle the issue. To many critics, this appears to be down to the Prime Minister’s need for the support of the anti-abortion Democratic Unionist Party to get through the Brexit process.

“Until the DUP formed an unholy coalition with the Tories many people in the rest of the UK didn’t even know who they were and how much they’re holding us back,” says Campbell.

“And honestly, I think if the Tories didn’t need the DUP for Brexit at the moment, then we probably already have had extension of the rights to Northern Ireland.”

It seems unlikely, given how desperately Theresa May needs the DUP’s support at the moment, that Westminster will legislate for the changes they are obliged to by the Supreme Court.

ROSA “Time 4 Equality” campaign makes a list of five demands including access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland (Credit: ROSA)

Groups like ROSA look to the tradition of protest action in helping bring about change. International Women’s Day itself was brought on 110 years ago by mass demonstration and socialist campaigns.

“It would be a mistake to think we will be granted bodily autonomy from the goodness of politicians hearts… but with the right kind of campaign I’m confident (these changes) could happen quite quickly,” Falvey says.

“But I’m not one for making predictions.”

Alliance For Change’s “I’m a Life” campaign has been launched in time for International Women’s Day 2019. 

1919 – 2019: A century of women’s success

In celebration of International Women’s Day, and to reflect on Women’s History Month, this timeline highlights ten major changes which have made the world a better place for women over the last century.

1921: Edith Wharton becomes the first woman to win Pulitzer Prize

Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence examined the narrowness and bigotry of the upper class in turn-of-the-century New York. Wharton rewrote history as she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel. She followed this success by becoming the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale.

1932: Amelia Earhart flies solo across the Atlantic

Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the Atlantic and is the only person since Charles Lindbergh to do so. In her famous red Lockheed Vega, she flew from Harbor Grace in Newfoundland, Canada and landed near Londonderry in Northern Ireland 15 hours later. Proving she was both a brave and capable pilot, Earhart became an overnight worldwide phenomenon.

Amelia Earhart in airplane

Amelia Earhart in airplane (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1941: Women serve in the armed forces for the first time during World War II

As most British men were defending their country on foreign soil, the women back home took on a host of jobs traditionally done by men during the Second World War and many ended up in the armed forces. By 1943, there were over 640,000 women in the army which included The Women’s Royal Naval Service, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man

When Parks, a black seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus in 1955, she set in motion a course of events that would change history. Through this spontaneous act, she sparked the civil right movement in the United States. Leaders of a local black community organised a bus boycott, which eventually lasted 381 days, on the same day Parks was charged with violating segregation laws.

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Rosa Parks (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman to fly to space

Tereshkova was a Soviet cosmonaut and was the first woman to travel into space in June 1963. During three days, she orbited the Earth a total of 48 times. It was her only trip to space and she later toured around the world to advocate for Soviet science. Inspiring women everywhere, she once said: “If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?” Tereshkova still remains active in the space community.

A protrait of Valentina tereshkova

A protrait of Valentina Tereshkova (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

1979: The United Kingdom elects its first female Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister in Britain and served from 1979 until 1990, making her the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. However, Thatcher was a controversial figure, often criticised as she reduced the influence of trade unions, changed the terms of political debate, scaled black public benefits and privatised certain industries.

1988: Julie Hayward becomes the first woman to win a case under the amended Equal Pay Act

Hayward was a canteen cook in Liverpool whose work was valued less than her male colleagues and was paid less. Supported by the GMB union and the Equal Opportunities Commission, she took her case to the House of Lords and eventually claimed equal pay for work of equal value.

1994: The United States Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act is a landmark piece of legislation brought in by Bill Clinton that expanded the juridical tools to provide protection to women who had suffered violent abuses. It improved criminal justice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in the United States, passing with an exceptional $1.6 million budget.

2010: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first women to win an Oscar for Best Director

The 2008 film The Hurt Locker picked up a total of six Oscars in March 2010 as well as the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. But it was the American director Bigelow winning an Oscar for Best Director for the film that made the headlines. She was the first woman to take home the award and triumphed over her ex-husband, James Cameron.

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Kathryn Bigelow (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

2018: Corinne Hutton becomes first female quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

At 48, Hutton completed her ascent of the highest free-standing mountain in the world and is believed to be the first quadruple amputee to do so. After losing both hands and feet to sepsis in 2013, she set up Scotland-based amputee charity Finding Your Feet to offer peer support to all amputees in all stages of their life. Through her climb, she raised nearly £40,000. Hutton became the first Scottish double hand transplant recipient at the start of 2019 and now has two hands.

 

EN4News in Numbers

In a world of constant news bombardment, some info can fall through the cracks. We’ve assembled a list of interesting factoids so you don’t have to worry about missing out! This weeks list includes some special International Women’s Day facts. 

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(Credit: Jade du Preez)

Scotland secure fifth place in Algarve Cup

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The Scotland women’s team celebrate a goal (Credit: SNS Group)

Shelley Kerr’s Scotland side clinched an impressive fifth place in the Algarve Cup on Wednesday after beating Denmark, with West Ham’s Jane Ross scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win.

Despite making 10 changes from the 4-1 win over Iceland on Monday, the Scots recorded a well earned victory over the Danes – who were finalists at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017.

Glasgow City’s Jo Love, now only 11 caps short of astonishing double century, was made captain for the day in the absence of the rested Rachael Corsie.

A heavily rotated Denmark struggled throughout the 90 minutes to test Hibernian keeper, Jenna Fife who made only her second ever start between the sticks.

Fife was finally beaten deep into the second half when Frankie Brown was short with a pass back, allowing Nicoline Sorensen to nip in and slip the ball past the keeper. But substiute Rachel Corsie provided some last minute heroics and was able to get back in time to prevent the ball crossing the line.

The Danes may feel flattered by the scoreline after Scotland hit the woodwork on three occasions in the first half amongst numerous other chances to extend the lead.

However, Ross’ 58th international goal just after the half hour mark proved decisive and saw Scotland win their second and final game of the tournament

Despite being the third lowest ranked side in the 12 team competition, Scotland managed to finish above countries such as Spain and the Netherlands.

A last minute penalty saw Scotland beaten on the opening day of the Algarve Cup by Canada, who were the highest ranked team in the competition. EN4 News discussed the match further in this podcast.

The Canadians went on to secure bronze in the competition after topping the group and beating Sweden on penalties in the third place play off.

Norway emerged as emphatic winners of the tournament by seeing off Poland in the final, winning 3-0 and claiming their fifth major title.

 

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