Something to think about, Video Games

Who Are The Most Popular Female Protagonists in Video Games?

I enjoy playing every protagonist regardless of gender but as a female gamer I find it important to be represented well.

The most popular playable female protagonists are Lara Croft, Commander Shepard, Amanda Ripley, Max Caulfield, Aloy, Faith Connors and many more. Let’s look at them and their backstories!

The following list of ladies in video games is in no particular order. I’m aware there are a lot more female protagonists than this but I wanted to focus on the playable ones. I decided not to delve into their game plot specifics but instead I focused on their backstories.

That being said, please be aware there might be spoilers.

Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

Lara Croft

I don’t think this lady needs any introduction. There have been many games released for the Tomb Raider series and there have been numerous movies, animated series, and comics made as well. The first game was released in 1996, and who could forget the blocky characters and the creepy old butler that we all have locked in the freezer at one point or another?

Lara’s backstory has significantly changed in the span of the series. In the Survival timeline, which is the most recent, she is an English archeologist, daughter to Lord Richard and Lady Amelia Croft. Her mother died in a plane crash. After her mother’s death, her father became obsessed with finding the key to immortality. Sometimes he’d take her along on expeditions, however, he often neglected her.

She quickly became bored at school and wished her father would take her on his archeological digs more often. Lara wasn’t happy with his father’s treatment of her, which led to a huge fight shortly before he was killed. Lara was placed into the care of Conrad Roth and they formed a close surrogate father-daughter relationship, even though his job often took him away from her.

Lara was voiced by the following actresses:

  • Shelley Blond (Tomb Raider)
  • Judith Gibbins (Tomb Raider 2, Tomb Raider 3)
  • Jonell Elliott (Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider: Chronicles, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness)
  • Minnie Driver (animated series)
  • Keeley Hawes (Legend timeline)
  • Camilla Luddington (Survival timeline)

Lara’s features & motion capture:

  • Camilla Luddington (2013 – 2018)

Faith Connors (Mirror’s Edge)

Faith Connors in ME: Catalyst

Faith’s backstory changed from the original Mirror’s Edge to Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, but I’ll be writing about her original backstory here.

Faith was born to Abraham and Erika Connors and has a twin sister Kate. Her mother was of Asian descent, while her father was Caucasian, possibly with Irish heritage. Her mother was killed during a riot against the oppressive new regime. Her father blamed himself and drowned his sorrows in alcohol.

When she was 16, she left home to live on the streets, getting by with petty theft. She was caught by a former Runner, Mercury, who took her under his wing and trained her to become a Runner herself (a member of an underground courier organization well versed in parkour and hand to hand combat, avoiding The City’s oppressive government).

Faith commemorated her first run by getting a tattoo around her right eye, then later getting a tattoo on her right arm.

Faith was voiced by:

  • Jules de Jongh
  • Faye Kingslee (Catalyst)

Emily Kaldwin (Dishonored 2)

Emily Kaldwin

Emily Kaldwin was born to Empress Jessamine Kaldwin I. after her secret affair with the Royal Protector Corvo Attano. Although her paternal parentage was kept a secret, Corvo maintained a close bond with his daughter, which earned the disapproval of the Royal Spymaster Hiram Burrows.

Her mother was assassinated when Emily was about 10 years old and the blame for her death was framed on Corvo. At this time Emily was kidnapped but later rescued by her father during his attempts to clear his name.

He left her in the care of her tutor, Calista Curnow, who taugh her the manners of an Empress. Emily wasn’t all that interested and would rather study warfare and be trained by her father in stealth and combat.

Emily was voiced by:

  • Chloë Grace Moretz (child)
  • Erica Luttrell

Aveline de Grandpré (Asssassin’s Creed: Liberation)

Aveline de Grandpré

Aveline was born to a French merchant Phillippe de Grandpré and an African slave Jeanne in 1747. When Aveline was 10 years old, her mother mysteriously disappeared, leaving her father to marry Madeline de L’Isle 5 years later, who took care of Aveline.

Aveline didn’t like the state of society around her and decided to act against injustice, trying to rescue a man from becoming a slave. She was noticed by the Assassin Agaté, who took her under his wing and trained her to be part of the Brotherhood.

Aveline was voiced by:

  • Amber Goldfarb

Amanda Ripley (Alien: Isolation)

Amanda Ripley

Amanda Ripley was born in 2111 to Ellen Ripley and a man named Alex. She was only 10 years old when her mother disappeared along with the Nostromo. It’s not clear what happened to her father but she was taken in by her stepfather.

Amanda became somewhat famous after her mother’s disappearance and received financial support from Weyland-Yutani, who eventually got her out of some legal trouble. Amanda and her stepfather didn’t get along very well and she ran away from home multiple times, taking up engineering. She worked in the sector where the Nostromo had disappeared, hoping for news about her mother.

Amanda was voiced by:

  • Andrea Deck

Amanda’s features & motion capture:

  • Kezia Burrows

Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)

Aloy

GAIA, an artificial intelligence, was created by Dr. Elisabet Sobeck (21st-century engineer) as a center of a system project called Zero Dawn for terraforming and restoring the Earth. A sub-function called HADES went rogue, its goal was to clear the Earth of everything (including life) and start over the terraforming process.

Now self-aware, GAIA resisted, knowing she would be destroyed in the process. Before GAIA went offline, she ordered to create a clone of Dr. Sobeck from her cryogenically stored genetic material in 3021. When the clone would reach maturity, it would be able to rebuild the GAIA system.

The facility used to create her, Eleuthia-9, was considered a Sacred Mountain by the Nora tribe, who dared not to go inside. They found a baby girl near the mountain, believing her to be a curse, so they cast her out.

She was placed in the care of another outcast, Rost, who named her and raised her as his own daughter. Aloy knew he wasn’t her real father but wasn’t sure why she was an outcast. She later demanded Rost to tell her but he didn’t really know.

The only way to know for sure was to take part in a coming-of-age ritual named The Proving, after which she would be accepted into the tribe and could ask the Matriarchs anything.

Aloy was voiced by:

  • Laura van Tol (infant)
  • Ava Potter (child)
  • Ashly Burch

Aloy’s features:

  • Hannah Hoekstra

Max Caulfield (Life is Strange)

Max Caulfield

Maxine Caulfield was born in 1995 to Ryan and Vanessa Caulfield. She grew up in Arcadia Bay, Oregon, becoming best friends with Chloe Price. Max wanted to be a photographer from an early age, she was particularly drawn to analog photography.

When she was 13, she was with her best friend when Chloe’s father died but unfortunately, her family decided to move to Seattle and Max left Chloe alone to deal with her grief. They lost contact for 5 years until Max moved back to Arcadia Bay to study photography on a scholarship. They rekindle their friendship during the game.

Max was voiced by:

  • Hannah Telle

Chloe Price (Life is Strange)

Chloe Price

Chloe Elizabeth Price was born in 1994 to Joyce and William Price, growing up in Arcadia Bay, Oregon. As they always hung out together, Max was there when Chloe got the news about her father. She was stricken to learn that Max was moving away during these trying times. Chloe didn’t have her best friend there to comfort her, developing abandonment issues and depression.

Her mother Joyce remarried but Chloe didn’t like her new step-father, David Madsen, and often acted out. She became rebellious, hanging out with bad company, taking drugs, running away from home and had trouble with local police. It’s speculated that Chloe had a possible bipolar disorder and had attempted suicide at some point.

Chloe is playable in the prequel, Before the Storm.

Chloe was voiced by:

  • Ashly Burch

Yuna (Final Fantasy X)

Yuna

Yuna was born in Bevelle to her mother (unnamed) and father Braska. When she was 4 years old, her mother was killed by Sin during her travel. This emboldened her father in becoming a high summoner and trying to defeat Sin.

When Yuna was 7 years old, her father left her to fight Sin alongside his two guardians, Auron and Jecht. During the fight Jecht and Braska died, leaving Auron with the request to make sure his daughter was safe on the island of Besaid. However, Auron was fatally injured but managed to relay Braska’s last wish to Kimahri, who honored the request and took Yuna to grow up in Besaid Village local temple under his guardianship.

Once Sin re-appeared, Yuna vowed to follow her father’s footsteps in defeating the beast and at 15 years old she became an apprentice summoner.

Yuna was voiced by:

  • Hedy Burress (English version)
  • Mayuko Aoki (Japanese version)

Yuna’s motion capture:

  • Mayuko Aoki

Kassandra (Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey)

Kassandra

Kassandra was born in 458 (or 453, sources differ) BCE to mother Myrrine and Pythagoras, although she had been brough up by her adoptive father Nikolaos. She was the granddaughter of King Leonidas I of Sparta through her mother and older half-sister to Alexios, the other playable character in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

Her mother gave her the Spear of Leonidas when she was a child as an heirloom. Her adoptive father wanted Kassandra to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and trained her often.

Kassandra prevented the sacrifice of her baby brother and fled Sparta after being pronounced a traitor.

Kassandra was voiced by:

  • Maria Syrgiannis (child)
  • Melissanthi Mahut

Commander Shepard (Mass Effect)

Jane Shepard with default features

Commander Shepard is a bit of a unique character on this list. Mass Effect heavily relies on player customization at the beginning of the game, so the personal history (and gender) depends on the players’ choices.

Commander Shepard can be either:

  • Spacer – Both parents were in the Alliance military and were transferred often between stations. Sheppard joined Alliance at the age of 18.
  • Earthborn – Shepard was an orphan, raised on the streets of Earth’s cities. To escape crime, she joined the Alliance at 18 years old.
  • Colonist – Shepard was raised in a small border colony Mindoir. At 16 years old, she lost her family and friends to a slavers raid. Shepard was saved by an Alliance patrol and joined it a few years later.

If the player leaves the default settings for Commander Shepard, she will be Earthborn and her name would be Jane.

Commander Shepard was voiced by:

  • Jennifer Hale

Which female protagonists from the list above do you like the most? What playable female characters are missing from this list in your opinion? Comment down below and I might add them to the list!


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4 comments

  1. Geeky Gamer Avatar
    Big Boss
    April 18, 2019 at 12:42 am

    Cool article! I’m so happy you put Emily in! I didn’t know the kid version of her was played by moretz, that’s pretty awesome.

    I may be biased but I think Claire Redfield should be on the list too :p

    Reply
    • Dana
      Author
      May 16, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      I’ll make sure to include her when I update the post! Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  2. Geeky Gamer Avatar
    Bjorn
    April 18, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Great article!
    I can also think of Siren from Borderlands (Lilith or Maya), and 2B from Nier: Automata.
    To be honest, from my perspective it’s the NPC female characters you interact with that leaves deeper impact in storytelling. It can be companions, villains, or just random NPCs you met on journey.

    Reply
    • Dana
      Author
      May 16, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      Thanks! I do agree but in this post, I wanted to focus more on the leading ladies. 🙂 Maybe in the future I’ll do a post on important side kicks! 🙂

      Reply

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