9 Video Game Heroines to Inspire Your Daughter

Strong, self-reliant girls are taking on big roles in more and more games. By Polly Conway
Topics: Gaming, We Recommend
9 Video Game Heroines to Inspire Your Daughter

Things are getting better for women in film and TV, from Divergent's Tris to Frozen''s supersisters Anna and Elsa. But female characters haven’t fared so well in the video game world, where they're mostly prized for their exaggerated physical features. That’s beginning to change.

More and more, video games are featuring strong female characters who are bold, brave, and ready for adventure. And, though it's great for boy gamers to see positive female role models, it's also good for girls, who make up 44 percent of all gamers

Author, educator, and kid advocate Rosalind Wiseman says that although female video game characters still adhere to traditional beauty standards, they're being given more dimensions.

"I was recently reading an article on the top 25 girl characters on a popular gamer site," she says. "Not surprisingly, all 25 had huge breasts, tiny waists, and flowing hair. But they were also liked because they were intelligent and skilled fighters." Not a great trade-off, but it’s better than women showing up purely as eye candy.

Another positive trend is the ability to choose your player’s gender. Avid gamer, voice actress, and game designer Ashly Burch is a fan of this empowering option. When a girl gets to play as a girl, she says, "it gives her a world where characters -- of all different species, genders, and backgrounds -- treat her with respect and don't assume that she's weak or incapable just because she's a girl."

If your kids like video games, you can encourage them to think critically about their heroes and heroines. Game expert (and dad to a spirited game-playing daughter) Chad Sapieha advises, "Parents can help things along by talking to their kids about the games they play. Get them thinking about gender roles and appearances by making them compare male and female character qualities, including appearance, intelligence, temperament, interests, abilities, and duties."

Some of our favorite video games with strong female characters are:

Silverlicious, ages 5+ Yeah, we know, she’s so pink. But beloved kids’ book character Pinkalicious transcends the traditional princess messages as she hunts for her lost sweet tooth, practicing kindness, empathy, and doing good deeds for others along the way.

Child of Light, ages 10+
Smart, independent female characters take the lead in this beautiful RPG that's fun for girls, boys, and grown-ups. Journey through the fantastical land of Lemuria, fighting bizarre creatures and making new allies in a treasure-filled, turn-based quest.

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy, ages 10+
The entire Nancy Drew game series (29 games at last count!) is fantastic, but Silent Spy is a super thriller: Mystery-solving dynamo Nancy searches Scotland for clues about her spy mother's death.

Portal 2, ages 10+
Chell is back, and she has to navigate more dangerous environments with the help of her portal-creating gun. With laugh-out-loud dialogue and tons of physics puzzles to solve, this first-person game is a fave for the whole family.

Broken Age, ages 12+
Follow parallel story lines in this point-and-click adventure. Shay lives alone on an overprotected spaceship, while on the ground Vella's the first to ask why she'll be sacrificed to a vengeful village monster.

Contrast, ages 13+
This stylized 1920s noir puzzler has a kooky premise that totally works. Explore the streets of Paris as shadowy Dawn, imaginary friend to Didi, looking for answers to some big questions.

Half the Sky Movement, ages 13+
Help Radhika find solutions to real problems as you follow her around the globe, advocating for women in all kinds of communities. This Facebook game also allows you to partner with real-world charities and get involved in real life (IRL).

Mirror's Edge, ages 14+
This fast-paced, first-person runner has been around for a while, but tough, agile Faith is still a fan favorite. Do death-defying stunts, parkour, and more as you zip around an Orwellian, futuristic city. (Bonus: You can play the whole game without firing a weapon.)

Gone Home, ages 15+
Katie returns from a trip to Europe to find her family's home mysteriously empty. As she explores, an emotional story unfolds, revealing secrets about her high-school-age sister Sam. This highly touted game is a great example of using fiction to explore real-life issues.


More Stuff You'll like Powered by PubExchange (i)


About Polly Conway

Image of blog author
As Common Sense Media's Senior TV Editor, Polly is responsible for championing the latest and greatest in TV for kids and families. She's an expert in the realm of shows that are created for (and/or appeal to -- not... Read more

Add comment

Sign in or sign up to share your thoughts

Comments (8)

Adult written by BriarRose

Why do you want girls to be "bold" and adventurous like the shallow world wants? shouldn't we teach them to be kind, respectful, dutiful, etc.? Nothing like the selfish, cowardly Queen Elsa or 95% of all video game heroines, who are basically meant to act like men and kick butt but look like hyper-sexualized lingerie models. (Anna, now, she's very loving and a decent if flawed role model.) Princess Peach, maybe. She's a sweetheart. Or the Disney Princesses, since technically they're also video game characters. How about we just be the role models our girls need instead of relying on the media?
Teen, 13 years old written by Chiifox

The problem with female video game characters is not always necessarily the fact that a lot of them look like lingerie models, it's the fact that that's all they have to offer and not much else. I would be perfectly fine with any female character regarding what she looked like in a video game as long as she was independent, strong and empowering. If your daughter prefers disney princesses to someone like Lara Croft then that is fine ~ just sharing my opinion.
Kid, 12 years old

Zelda from the series of the same name and Samus Aran from the Metroid series are two good role-models. Then there's Marle, Lucca, and Ayla from Chrono Trigger and Aeris/Aerith from Final Fantasy VII (a series known for, ahem, provacative heroines...).
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old written by TNTilden

This is a great list!! There are several I know my kids would love to check out! They love playing Herotopia because of the Superheroes! Their favorite character is Ally Kazaam. I think it's because she hosts the Power Puzzles and that's their favorite mini-game to play. We took the time to read all the character bios and she is a great video game heroine to look up to!
Parent of a 18+ year old written by stellalune

Great list! I hadn't heard of a few of these and will definitely check them out. When I tweeted the link, I also added "or Son" to the title. My only child is a boy, and I've always encouraged him to play fun, creative, thought-provoking games regardless of the main character's gender.


Common Sense Media is working with PubExchange to share content from a select group of publishers. These are not ads. We receive no payment, and our editors have vetted each partner and hand-select articles we think you'll like. By clicking and leaving this site, you may view additional content that has not been approved by our editors.