The video gaming and the movie industries are often crucial in establishing role models and characters that young people look up to. Yet, both of those industries are heavily male-dominated, from creators to protagonists. Having a female lead who is not stereotypical in the way that Hollywood and the gaming industry used to portray women is crucial for allowing girl nerds, black girls, and especially black girl nerds to broaden their aspirations of what they could become in life. Luckily, things are beginning to change, and female figures are becoming more prominent in games and in films.
Lara Croft: The Original Badass Who Inspired Movies and Online Slot Games
You could argue that it all started with Lara Croft. The bold and adventurous archeologist may have been initially devised as a female version of Indiana Jones but she soon took on a life of her own. She has been a trailblazer for strong female leads even though she suffers from an attire that reveals that male creators were behind her design. Regardless, Lara was a new paradigm in the gaming world, especially in the 1990s where there were simply next to no female characters in active roles. She has inspired a wide range of games beyond the initial Tomb Raider series, including a Tomb Raider-themed online slot with five reels and 15 paylines where the scatter symbol is Lara holding her gun. She also saw two movies made about her with Angelina Jolie in the leading breakout role, as well as a recent reboot starring Alicia Vikander.
Survivors and Superheroes
More and more video games depict strong female characters that could be described as survivors in a cruel and dangerous world. Ellie in The Last of Us and Cassandra from Dragon Age: Inquisition are also great examples of women who demonstrate smartness, courage and clarity of judgment in the face of adversity, instead of sliding into the convenient stereotype of a passive character waiting to be saved. Yuna from Final Fantasy X is sometimes bundled together with that passive lot but, in truth, she demonstrates a lot of conviction and always follows her own beliefs. More recently, characters like Catwoman and Harley Quinn managed to successfully storm the male-focused superhero realm and appeared both on-screen and in spin-off video games, much to the fans’ enjoyment.
How Katniss Subtly Overturned the Female Paradigm
A turning point in how female characters fare in the industries were also fantasy and sci-fi films. Beginning with the Lord of the Rings trilogy back in the 2000s, strong characters like Galadriel Eowyn and Arwen played an instrumental role in the movie adaptation of the books. Later, Katniss Everdeen made a splash as the lead of the Hunger Games book trilogy and their film adaptation, proving that a woman can be badass and headline an adventure blockbuster set in a dystopian future – even though we would like to forget the whole Rue casting controversy. Katniss was a skilled archer more interested in saving her family and her District than in the developing romance with any of the two boys that court her throughout the books. And please note that both of their trademark fighting techniques were much less straightforward and active than Katniss’ archery: Gale likes to hunt by setting traps and Peeta is hopeless in fighting and prefers to use his baking skills in order to save his life by camouflage. Need we say more about Suzanne Collins’ brilliant way of subtly avoiding stereotypes?
We still have a long way to go when it comes to strong female characters in games and movies but at least we have taken the first steps.