There are tons of video games on the market, but which one’s appeal to us girls?
Don’t get me wrong; I play all different kinds of games! But the ladies that are newer to the genre of addicting gaming may have a few questions on where to start first.
Though a minority of gamers are female, that minority is a significant one–and growing. There is no denying the facts and statistics. While women make up very little of the user base for sports-based video games like FIFA, their numbers are much more significant in other video game genres, ranging from adventure to fantasy to strategy and beyond.
However, the industry still overwhelmingly caters to a male user base. Oftentimes, women used to be ignored by gaming companies, making some games unfriendly or utterly ridiculous to some women. But on the other hand, there are just a handful of video games that are great for girls (and guys), for one reason or another.
The video game industry isn’t always the most female-friendly. It had improved drastically over the years! But here are a few video games that are great for us ladies!
Aloy is the main character of an open world action role-playing game called Horizon Zero Dawn. Horizon Zero Dawn was developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony on the Playstation Four in 2017. The game is set a thousand years in the future in a post-apocalyptic world that has become overrun with robots. Mankind is no longer the dominant species and has been reduced to a smattering of primitive tribes.
The plot revolves around Aloy, a young girl who gets cast out of her tribe at birth, who grows up living as an outcast with a man called Rost. Aloy is at the top of this list because she might be the best female character who has appeared in any video game ever. Just like Ripley from Aliens, she was written with no gender in mind.
Guerrilla Games went to a considerable effort to respect Aloy and to treat her as a hero who just also happens to be a woman. No one ever comments on Aloy’s gender or questions her skills or abilities because she is a woman. Her femaleness was not a problem, and she was written not as a Strong Female Character but as a very human character with an interesting personality. It was wonderfully refreshing. If you have a teenage daughter who loves science fiction and open-world games, I highly recommend Horizon Zero Dawn.
A farm simulation game developed by Zynga, FarmVille, became a hit on Facebook in June of 2009. Since then, over 82 million users have signed onto the application where they manage a virtual farm–raising crops and livestock, and bringing them to market. The game leverages the social networking aspect of Facebook; players invite friends and post updates of their farms, something that experts say is especially attractive to female players.
The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series
Clementine is one of the main characters in the episodic interactive video game The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series. Telltale is an American video game production company and publisher that produces narrative-driven episodic video games that allow the player to make choices that will affect how future events in the game will play out.
The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Season One is set in the comic book universe of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic book series. The main character of season one is an African-American man called Lee.
Lee encounters Clementine by accident. In season one Clementine is an eight-year-old girl living with her parents in Atlanta. The dead rise when her parents are out of town. After her babysitter is eaten, Clementine hides in her treehouse and stays there until Lee stumbles into her backyard.
Lee becomes a surrogate father to Clem, and the two end up forming a very deep bond. What makes Clementine such a good character is how she grows and develops. When she is introduced, she is a scared eight-year-old girl who has to depend on Lee for protection. But as the game progresses, Clem becomes older, stronger, and matures into a young woman due in large part to the positive influence that Lee has on her.
The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game is returning for its fourth and final season in 2018. As a fan of the game, and as a fan of Clem, I can’t wait to see how her story comes to an end. Judging from this kick-ass promotional photo of her welding an ax, I think she is going to kick a lot of walker butt.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Zelda is the modern-day “Frankenstein/Frankenstein’s monster” error. The Legend of Zelda games are named for this character, leading many non-gamers to mistakenly believe that the titular character is the main hero and protagonist of the games. On the contrary, Zelda only briefly appears in most of the games, and generally plays a role only slightly better than the helpless damsel in distress, waiting to be saved by the actual playable character, Link.
But that’s all in the past. A mod for the latest release, Breath of the Wild, allows players to play as Zelda herself, a development that makes one of the greatest video games of all time all the more exciting and appealing to female gamers. Zelda is also a compelling playable character in Brawl, which many critics overlook.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has shown itself to be widely popular among female gamers, surely in part because it’s one of the first of the Assassin’s Creed games to offer the ability to play as a female character. Set in 19th century London, this installment of the franchise allows you to play as twin assassins, Evie and Jacob Frye.
The game has been well-reviewed for character development and complexity, as well as improved graphics and compelling plot lines. The result of some of the additions and changes made in this new installment has shown a robust increase in its female fanbase and users, demonstrating the practical benefits for development companies to improve the diversity of their games.
Street Fighter allows players to choose from a handful of female playable characters, but the overwhelming favorite among girls is the beloved Chun-Li. Though the game and the character have their critics, Chun-Li holds an important role in the history of video games as the first playable female character in a fighting game, debuting in 1991 and remaining an overwhelming favorite in the following decades. Other female characters in the franchise include Cammy, who offers many special skills and abilities compelling to players. However, the consensus (from what I’ve seen) seems to be that Chun-Li is a singular character for fans of the game.
Resident Evil 2
The Resident Evil franchise boasts a lot of complex, interesting female characters for women to play as, play with, and appreciate. Known for its particularly complex and engaging plots, the Resident Evil games have succeeded for years by making characters that people care about, for better or worse.
Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, Ada Wong, and many others offer just a few examples of the adventure games’ ability to develop compelling female characters, which allow girls to see themselves represented in action. Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil director and producer, made a pretty simple statement that sheds light on why this franchise is so popular and loved for many women “I won’t portray women as objects or submissive,” he said in an interview. Shouldn’t be a shocking statement, of course, but it makes you think: maybe it really is that easy.
Mass Effect 2
The main focus of Mass Effect 2–available in both Xbox 360 and Windows formats–is its story, an imaginary intergalactic world which rivals a movie screenplay in its complexity. You have to make hard choices that will affect the outcome of the game.
In fact, since this is the second in the series, you can carry over your results from the first game, which in turn affects the current world.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition
Not everyone is into epic fantasies and adventures (although, why not, am I right?). Especially popular among young girls, games such as Harvest Moon: Light of Hope allow girls to play around and develop a world of their very own.
It spurs creativity, in a low-pressure, pure fun kind of way, making these video games that are great for girls who are a bit younger, and/or not necessarily so much into gaming. People often forget that video games come in all kinds of packages, and even people who don’t think they like them could probably find some they love if they look outside the main drag of adventure, fantasy, and shooter games.
Designed in 2007 by thatgamecompany for PlayStation 3, Flower was introduced to the U.S. in February 2009.
How much more relaxing can it get than playing the wind as it flies through fields collecting flower petals? The game designer, Jenova Chen, has said that she built the game to evoke positive feelings in the player rather than to challenge them. This absolutely unique award-winning game embodies Zen.
Published by HerInteractive, Nancy Drew games have been a success since they were released in 1998. The game follows the adventure of detective Nancy Drew through a virtual environment, where she talks to suspects, investigates clues and solves the crime.
The games have been applauded since their incarnation for promoting female characters and interest in gaming.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Though my personal favorite is Tomb Raider II, the prolific Lara Croft: Tomb Raider series is easily one of the best video games that are great for girls and guys alike. With a strong female protagonist, engaging action, and strategy, these adventure games are simply timeless.
As the central figure in a now-massive video game empire, Lara Croft, as a character, offers girls and women a chance to engage as a relatively well-rounded female character, with personality and skill (which, admittedly, ranges from game to game). As far as adventure games to play that will appeal to girls go, Lara Croft may just be the gold standard.
Super Princess Peach
The biggest issue that women take with the video game industry is not so much that the games are not themselves “fun” for women, but that they lack female characters—or at least, compelling female characters—for women to play.
The Mario franchise itself has often been an example of this, as only a few of the many playable characters in the franchise are female, and some games place those characters in simple instrumental roles as damsels in distress. However, contentious though it may be, it’s unfair to sell Princess Peach short in the franchise, as her abilities as a playable character is some of the best. As one of the oldest female characters in video game history, this well-loved and well-hated standard of the franchise is truly one of the best video game characters of all time, and Super Mario remains one of the best video games that are great for girls.
Zuma is a puzzle game that can be played for free via the Web on your computer or by downloading to a PDA, phone, or iPod. The object is to get rid of the balls rolling along with the screen before the balls reach the endpoint: a skull. These browser games, called “brain break” games by those in the know, are incredibly popular with women and have been shown to increase attentiveness.
Portal is one of the greatest video games of all time. While fantasy adventure and shooter games make up the bulk of popular video games today, Portal takes a more strategic spin on the video game genre. The first-person perspective is that of a recently awoken test subject, Chell, who is guided (and taunted) by an AI through a series of puzzles.
This game is intellectually engaging for players of all kinds, and a stimulating option for girls and women, especially those who are less inclined towards the more violent single-player options out there. It’s a minimalist take on the video game that evokes some of the nostalgia of early gaming, with a strategic complexity that fosters stimulating engagement for the player.
A best-selling favorite for the past decade, Sims 3 is a soap opera in a box where the players get to be the benevolent (or malevolent), creator.
Intense love triangles, evil twins, and fabulous clothes, you control over their every move. But sometimes it seems like they have a mind of their own…
World of WarCraft
A massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Blizzard Entertainment, WoW has been on the computer game market in different incarnations since 1994. The game takes place within the mythical world of Azeroth.
A player controls a customizable avatar, gaining various skills and talents, and joins one of two opposing teams. Experts and gamers applaud WoW for teaching collaboration, experimentation, and delegation of authority through the various missions these massive teams carry out.
Final Fantasy Series
Currently, the most popular role-playing game in the world, Final Fantasy was originally published in Japan in 1987 and brought to the U.S. by Nintendo in 1990. Since then, the epic story has been released several times over, following the story of four youths called the Light Warriors, who fight evil forces in the mythical world that includes humans, elves, dwarves, mermaids, dragons, and robots. In its 20 years on the market, one of the lead characters has always been a woman.
The Final Fantasy series has captured the hearts of both men and women alike, but the gripping storyline and formats of gameplay have had these games a preference of a vast audience.
But a game I want to mention in particular…
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII is a very important game both for gamers individually and for video game culture in general. It’s a cultural touchstone that defined the story dense era of PlayStation 1 JRPGs, solidified Square’s commitment to being at the forefront of graphics technology, and arguably sold the PlayStation to gamers everywhere, helping Sony establish a foothold in the video game industry.
So it’s hard to play a remake of a game so important and not compare it to the original, and Square knows this. They want you to compare Final Fantasy VII Remake to the original. They specifically developed the remake such that its most significant strengths come about explicitly when you compare the two. Does this alienate newer gamers? Yeah, a little. Does it make FF7R any less of an incredible game? No.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake breathes new life into a classic gem in the infamous Final Fantasy series. The character complexity is heightened in the remake, causing you to fall in love with the characters and its story all over again. If you haven’t played the remake yet, you need to do so.
We also need to mention…
Final Fantasy X
The Final Fantasy series is another game franchise that succeeds in large part through its offering of compelling playable characters. Yuna in Final Fantasy X is an especially beloved character for girls and women who are tired of female video game characters continually being portrayed as one-dimensional, tough girls.
While there’s nothing wrong with this kind of character—many of my favorites fall into this trope—the consistency with which game developers make this kind of female character alone leaves the impression that strong women are always somewhat masculine women. Yuna allows girls to play as a kind, passionate, feminine character, without sacrificing the engaging gameplay we hope for in a popular franchise.
Okay, hear me out on this one. You may be surprised to see this one on the list, but let me explain why. This game is extremely diverse. You have the option to play as a male or female that you can completely customize. The storyline can go in a million different directions, which I personally love.
If Fallout 4 wasn’t packed with content when it launched in 2015, a handful of DLCs, numerous add-on packages, and an abundance of third-party mods have fleshed out the experience since, making for some serious gameplay and multiple playthroughs.
After the protagonist escapes from a cryogenic sleep following a nuclear blast, they explore the post-apocalyptic Commonwealth in search of their infant son, fighting super mutants, deathclaws, raiders, and all sorts of other edgy dangers along the way.
The game’s DLCs have you explore the dark and stormy island of Far Harbor, a Nuka-Cola-themed amusement park, and give you the means to create your own robot combat companion. You can also hole up with your own band of survivors and work on building a settlement for your people.
Fallout 4 still makes for a phenomenal, in-depth playthrough, one that deserves a playthrough!
There’s a lot to be said for Mirror’s Edge. The compelling dystopian future, minimalist game style, and environment are among the top reasons for its popularity. Also, among these top factors is the well-loved protagonist, Faith Connors. In these games, you play as Faith in a dystopian future, essentially doing a lot of pretty cool parkour throughout a futuristic city.
While heavy on the action in this sense, Mirror’s Edge is not, overall, a particularly violent or combat-based game, offering a lighter (literally) and more minimalist option for gamers, in contrast to other popular franchises like Resident Evil and Final Fantasy, which tend to operate significantly in the dark.
The Wolf Among Us: Telltale Games
The Wolf Among Us is another fantastic episodic game done by the talented people at Telltale Games. The game came out in 2013. It is a mixture of fantasy and mystery and is based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series. It is so true to the comic book the plot of the game is considered canon and is viewed as a prequel to the comic book series.
The Wolf Among Us centers around Bigby Wolf (formally known as the Big Bad Wolf), who is the sheriff of Fable Town. When a Fable is murdered in Fable Town, Bigby vows to bring the culprit to justice. He is aided by Snow White, assistant to deputy mayor Ichabod Crane.
What makes this game so great is how well written it is. The game features a huge cast of characters ripped straight from the pages of the Fables comic book. Bigby is brought to life wonderfully, and Snow White is sharp, intelligent, and a force to be reckoned with.
If you enjoy interactive games with a strong narrative and compelling characters, you should give this one a go. Telltale has announced a sequel that is due to come out in 2018. It will once again star both Bigby and Snow White. If you have never read Fables after playing this game, you will want to pick up the book and start reading.
Red Dead Redemption 2
This one being on the list may surprise you, but it definitely deserves a go from our female gamers! The graphics are stunning, the storyline is extremely immersive, and the gameplay is thoroughly entertaining. I also guarantee you have heard about this one multiple times already, so let’s delve into some details.
Having already created one of the most realistic renditions of modern-day life with Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar quickly returned to the time of The Old West to deliver players a fully developed cowboy simulator. Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually a prequel set before the events of the first Red Dead Redemption released in 2010, offering interesting context to a period when the time of The Frontier was rapidly dying. Rockstar’s sequel is notable for its much slower pace compared to a lot of other open-world games, truly letting players inhabit the role of Arthur Morgan.
As a member of Dutch’s gang of outlaws, missions range from having you undertake train robberies to simply surviving drunken bar fights. All this you do while increasingly becoming invested with this eclectic ensemble cast of characters. Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the best single-player PS4 games simply because it places more emphasis on story than most open-world games, surrounded by an incredibly faithful Wild West set to transport you to a whole new period of history.
Little Big Planet
One of the most intriguing elements of this puzzle video game for PlayStation 3 is the feature of user-generated content. Players can create systems, puzzles, and games-within-the game. By manipulating a character (Sackboy, Sackgirl, or the gender-neutral Sackperson) through a series of puzzles, Little Big Planet also offers an online community where players can create and challenge other players. LBP has received wide praise for its graphics, physics, and storytelling.
I have been in love with the Zelda series for many years now. My favorite will always be the classic Ocarina of Time. But Hyrule Warriors will give you a unique opportunity to play as Zelda!
Hyrule Warriors is a 2014 video game that was released on the Wii U. It was developed by Omega Force and Team Ninja and published in collaboration between Koei Tecmo and Nintendo.
It is a “hack and slash” game styled after Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series and Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors series. The game features settings and characters from the Legend of Zelda, but the gameplay is from the Dynasty Warrior series. The player selects a character from the Legend of Zelda and will then lead an army into combat against a large number of enemies. The player can use weapons and items and attacks from the Legend of Zelda series and will work their way through chapters in the story.
What made Hyrule Warriors such a unique game was that its character rosters include a large number of female characters from the Legend of Zelda franchise. Players can choose to play as the legendary Zelda herself or as Impa, Sheik, Ruta, Midna, Agitha, Fi, Twili Midna, Tetra, Linkle (female Link), Toon Zelda, Marin, Ravio, Lana, Cia or even the Great Fairy herself!
It is always nice when Nintendo breaks from tradition and does something different, and that’s precisely what Hyrule Warriors is. I hope they experiment with the Zelda franchise more in the future and maybe give Zelda more of an active role in future games.
There are plenty of other games outside of our list! The best thing to do is to explore different types and see what you personally prefer.
If you find that you are the solo adventuring type, try also playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as well as Skyrim. If you prefer some more accessible puzzle games, check out Timelie. There s no wrong selection when it comes to picking the best genre of game for you.
Always remember, there is no wrong game to try! Experience gaming your own way. Being a girl just means we get to find our own favorite things about all of these amazing games!
Scarlett Rose is a professional cosplayer, actress, published model, and mother of rabbits. When she is not crafting armor or building costumes, she can be found playing the latest video game or enjoying a retro classic.