More women are now playing video games than ever before. In 2021, 45% of those who play video games were women, up from 41% the previous year.
Yet, strong female characters are still needed. Almost 80% (79.2%) of video game characters are male, with gender diversity still lacking in the gaming world.
However, there are some female characters that are regarded by critics and gamers as some of the best characters ever created.
With that being said, the online gaming site Spades Challenge have revealed the highest rated female gaming characters, as voted by the public through a poll on Ranker.
Let’s take a look at who has come out on top.
With over 5,000 votes, Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider Franchise has taken first place as the most popular female video game character. First introduced in 1996, Lara Croft is a highly intelligent British archaeologist who ventures into tombs around the world. The character was created to be a strong female lead, contrasting with other female characters of the era who weren’t depicted as strong, brave or clever. With a huge cult following, the character was one of the first successful video game characters to be developed into a film, with actress Angelina Jolie playing the character in 2001, and again in 2003 – grossing over $500 million at the box office. The character remains a favourite today, 25 years later.
|Lara Croft||Tomb Raider Franchise||5,186|
|Samus Aran||Nintendo Universe||4,707|
|Princess Zelda||Nintendo Universe/The Legend of Zelda||3,861|
|Tifa Lockhart||Final Fantasy VII||3,657|
|Jill Valentine||Resident Evil||3,505|
|Chun-Li||Street Fighter Franchise||3,322|
|Ellie||The Last of Us||2,971|
|Ada Wong||Resident Evil||2,544|
In second place with over 4,700 votes we have Samus Aran, known from the 1986 video game Metroid. She is an ex-soldier turned bounty hunter, equipped with missiles and weaponry, and remembered as one of the earliest female characters to challenge gender stereotypes.
Princess Zelda takes third place, with over 3,800 votes. First introduced in 1986, Princess Zelda is often regarded as one of the most iconic female video game characters, still popular with gamers and cosplayers today. Often portrayed as a damsel in distress, she is also known for her alter egos Sheik and Tetra.
Tifa Lockhart is next, with over 3,600 votes. She is known for her role in Final Fantasy VII. The character is friends with Cloud Strife, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, and is often compared to Lara Croft for her strong, independent nature.
With over 3,500 votes, Jill Valentine from the survival horror franchise Resident Evil takes fifth place. First introduced in 1996, the character is another female lead that has been praised for her portrayal of females in gaming.
Chun-Li from the Street Fighter franchise was voted the sixth best female video game character of all time, with over 3,300 votes. She was the first female character to ever appear in a fighting game, back in 1991.
With over 2,900 votes, Ellie from The Last of US takes seventh place, whilst another character from Resident Evil, Ada Wong, takes eighth place with over 2,500 votes.
In ninth place we have Bayonetta, from the Bayonette franchise, with over 2,400 votes. Introduced in 2009, the character is praised by both critics and gamers for her powerful nature. More recently, the character was the inspiration for singer Lady Gaga in her music video “Rain on Me” in 2020.
Finally, rounding off the list of the most loved female video game characters we have Kitana from Mortal Kombat, with over 2,100 votes. Known for carrying her iconic steel fans as a primary weapon, the character remains popular today, almost 30 years after her first appearance in 1993.
Commenting on the poll, a spokesperson from Spades Challenge said: “More women are getting into gaming, and the need for strong female characters is apparent. This data shows that females are regarded as some of the most iconic video game characters ever created. As more and more women and girls take up gaming, demand will only increase for better representation across all genres of video games.”
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*The study was conducted by Spades Challenge, which enables users to play Spades online easily at any time.
**Article contains affiliate links