Women in modern games: WoW Cataclysm has some pretty cool women in it. Let’s hope for a trend!

We’ve filled a lot of linkspams with discussion of negative reviews of World of Warcraft from the feminist perspective. While I still think “I KILL THINGS WITH MY LADYBITS” may be the best description of fantasy art I’ve ever read, it does get tiresome hearing again and again how dubious the gaming industry’s attitude towards women can be. (Not because that’s the wrong impression, but because it’s so bloody obvious at times that it hurts to be reminded.) So I was really happy to see Now that’s what I’m talking about: the women of Cataclysm (Alliance edition). It’s nice to see Blizzard improving upon their often problematic depictions of women. Here’s a teaser:

Fanny Thundermar

Fanny Thundermar

Fanny Thundermar from WoW: Cataclysm
(Yes, she’s toting an iron skillet. Do not mock the skillet. You will regret that decision almost immediately. Remember the lesson of Samwise Gamgee.)

I really hesitate to go too far into this, but, really, Fanny is a great example of turning something on its ear. In this case, the Princess, to be married, is kidnapped, and must be rescued by all the manly men! Surely, this will end in tears.

Except, not so much.

Fanny, you see, is not one to take being kidnapped lightly, and the ONLY thing that kept her from pounding every ogre head in sight into the ground was the rescuer. In essence, we get to rescue the ogres from HER.

Read more about Fanny and the other women of Cataclysm in the original post: Now that’s what I’m talking about: the women of Cataclysm (Alliance edition).

I’d only ever encountered one of these characters since I’m more of a Horde kinda girl (and not a frequent player at that), and now I’m kinda sad to know that I was missing out on a couple more interesting women. And I’m hoping there’s plenty of great characters in other games too.

Here’s the one that most recently struck me:

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

I think Yuriko especially made an impression because I first heard about Puzzle Bots from Melissa’s negative review of the character profiles, and Digital Changeling’s concerns about the stereotyping. So yes, she starts as an incredibly problematic shy, smart Japanese girl stereotype (and one I’m especially inclined to dislike as it’s one people apply to me). What surprised me when I got to play Puzzle Bots myself is that even in a very short game, Yuriko actually grew considerably from her initial characterization. I can’t really give details without spoiling the (rather touching) end of the game, but I have to say that part of why I adored her so much was that she started as a problematic stereotype but was able to move past that and it’s most definitely implied that she’ll be growing even more. Despite the problematic stereotypes (nothing you don’t see watching movies already) I’d totally give this game to a younger girl as long as I was pretty sure she’d complete it to find out how much more awesome Yuriko can be.

So here’s your chance to warm my heart even more: what great characters have you seen in modern games? Let’s not let the industry rest on its laurels and concentrate on characters from games released in the past two years or so.

5 thoughts on “Women in modern games: WoW Cataclysm has some pretty cool women in it. Let’s hope for a trend!

  1. Manuel

    Hi, there’s a typo in the second link to “Now that’s what I’m talking about…” : the code looks like a href=a href=”url” (href twice). Feel free to delete this trivial comment once the problem is fixed. (Not being a gamer, I don’t have anything useful to add to this nice post.)

    1. Terri

      Thanks! I’d just noticed the markup error myself when it showed up in my feedreader looking a bit weird.

      It’s fixed now.

  2. Grimmtooth

    Wow, I’m flattered that you found that entry to be pleasing.

    The comments on that post have some more examples of other strong female characters that I either didn’t mention, or haven’t encountered yet. I suspect there will be a lot more to come from them.

  3. Gaurav

    It’s a dismally short list, even without the two year limit. My favourite female character since 2009 is Leliana from Dragon Age: she’s a great fighter (although some of my friends disagree, she’s just the kind of striker I needed), has an interesting backstory, an exotic accent, and has a nasty sense of humour while still being a sweet and affectionate member of the group.

    My favourite female character of all time remains Alyx Vance from Half Life 2 and its expansions, though. Smart, clever, perfectly capable of taking care of herself without help from you, with a distinctive personality and always ready to climb up the side of a building for The Resistance. I hope the next Half Life expansion (or even – gasp! – Half Life 3?!) comes out soon!

    1. Terri

      That *is* a dismally short list, but it looks like it’s mostly from triple-a titles, so I imagine it’s missing quite a lot of neat folk from indie games (like Yuriko above!)

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