Unlikely Game Heroines


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Samus and Lara may be classic, but the video game world is full of laudable female characters, not all of them so obvious. Beyond the busty beach volleyball and high-heeled martial arts lay hidden jewels of model femmes.

King (Art of Fighting & King of Fighters)

Compared to other SNK fighters, the androgynous King is an oddity in the midst of characters like the overtly sexualized Mai Shiranui or the “cute but deadly” Yuri. It may seem obvious to gravitate towards such an unfeminine character when attempting to break out against sexist depictions of women and to idolize the complete opposite of mainstream ideas of what it means to be a girl, but this isn’t what I’m trying to do by choosing King. While it’s a given that a worthy heroine should subvert popular over generalizations of femininity to some degree, she should also be comfortable enough with her sex that she can reinvent her gender on her own terms.

Early in her storyline, King dealt with the limitations of her gender in a male-dominated world by pretending to be a man. Her manner of dress and behavior reflects an inclination towards masculinity even after she no longer needed to cross-dress to be a fighter. However, she was always secure with her sexuality and interacting with men on a romantic level, i.e. Ryo Sakazaki, without worrying about power struggles. And what I love the most about her is, as a member of the Women’s Team, how comfortable she is interacting with other women as well. Her masculine style is not a complete throwing off of what it means to be a woman; she embraces her sex and merely chose to reinvent her gender role.

Despite the dubious depictions of many of their characters (Mai’s chest is pretty bouncy for a flying ninja), fighting games are a favorite of mine for female role models since, as a mechanic of the genre, all characters are naturally equal in power regardless of their sex.

Misty (Pokémon)

For once, it’s time that someone lauded the travails of the friend-zoned girl instead of the usual friend-zoned guy. In the Pokémon games, Misty’s character is hardly a character at all since she only appears as a gym leader, but her manifestation in the anime became one of the most realistic, likeable, and admirable women from a gaming franchise. Firstly, she possesses the requisite multi-faceted personality that refutes the popular opposing archetypes of overly girly loyal sidekick and hardened but kickass bitch. Also, she is so confident in her identity that her roiling temper and her romantic personality are not in conflict with each other; both are integral parts of her complex self regardless of their gender in/appropriateness. For her, doing her best to accomplish her goals and become a better gym leader is the purpose for her life, and being a girl is the spice that adds variety and challenge to her journey.

If only Ash wasn’t so oblivious, and Misty’s successors were underwhelming at best. It really is true when people say the show peaked with its original seasons, and not only because Team Rocket’s jingle got super old.

Pamper your feminine side with a Campus Clipper coupon for a $7 manicure at Floris Day Spa. Your inner heroine deserves it.

-Avia Dell’Oste

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