5 Feminist Video-Game Characters Countdown: Number 1!

By Ray L Martin
Editor at Large
11th August 2012, 20:43 GMT

Hackers turned MIT’s Green Building into a giant, playable, and multi-colour Tetris game. A console allowed players to move, rotate, and drop blocks. Tetris is reached its height of popularity when it went handheld on the Game Boy. Photo courtesy of hacks.mit.edu.

In continuation of the article countdown, we’re now onto our TOP (Wow we made it!) Feminist Video Game Character, bearing in mind:

There are very few female characters out there that are both empowered and feminist.  So I decided to do some searching in order to find a least five feminist game characters.

So, I’ve established this criteria:

  • Fights for a Noble Cause: The character would have to fight for a cause that is just and noble, which is a rather broad term and ultimately, if the character’s role is to destroy evil, then virtually every female character’s cause is noble.  But for a character’s motives to be considered feminist, certain “self-serving” interests would not apply.  This means that one who fights for money, fame or power over others could never be considered a feminist game character, as this is more in keeping with historically male philosophies.
  • Own Philosophy of Life: It is important for a woman to have her own mission and purpose in life; that men and in general patriarchy do not define these foundations for her. The same is true with a female character.  When the female lead plots her course for the game, it’s done by her will.

    The lead should have complete control over her actions and her actions should never be defined by the state, an agency or any other type of patriarchal institution.

    She should have sole discretion over her decisions as well as be able to manifest her own destiny.

  • Sexy yet Dignified: Once it is established that the lead is both fighting for a just cause and is in complete control over her decisions, the lead should appear strong and dignified; in other words, no form of sexual objectification is allowed for this character.  While this is not exactly a dominant requirement for all waves of feminists, in a video game world filled with huge breasted women with tight skirts and bikinis, it helps that a strong female lead is also the least exposed and visually exploited.

Now that we have established the criteria, and the TOP game is as follows:

Number One: Chun Li

Fan Artwork of Chun Li by Sbel02

Known as the First Lady of fighting games, Chun-Li made her debut in the genre defining Street Fighter II and has since been the biggest and most recognizable female character in fighting game history.  Here career spans 20+ years (roughly 7 to 8 years in the actual timeline) and her motives have varied from game to game, mostly revolving around getting revenge on M-Bison for killing her father.

 

For me, the most noble of her motivations exist in Street Fighter III: Third Strike, where several years have passed and Chun-Li, now a retired street fighter and Interpol agent, spends all of her time teaching orphan kids martial arts.

 

When one of the kids is kidnapped by a character named Urien, she enters the arena once more in order to save the girl from Urien’s grasp.  Once Urien was defeated, Chun-Li is clearer than ever about her purpose in life; to teach, protect and care for young children.

This is the element that made me take special notice of the character Chun-Li, who was at one point hell-bent on revenge, now is dedicated to being something of a mother to children in need.

 

Motherhood is expanded beyond biological function – Chun Li is the nurturer in the sense of the mother-lion who protects all of the cubs, and that in my mind is a powerful feminist statement.

Well, that’s all folks. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment – or email me your thoughts and ideas at raylmartin@live.co.uk.

Stills courtesy of vgmuseum.com

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