The Entertainment Software Association has found that adult women make up the largest segment of gamers.
Its latest survey found women over 18 make up 35 per cent of the gaming population.
Women are now at the forefront of gaming, with such powerful and universally loved characters as Infamous’s Fetch Walker or Mortal Kombat’s Cassie Cage.
But it didn’t start out this way. In 1982, Mystique released Custer’s Revenge for the Atari 2600, in which a naked Custer dodges arrows on his way to raping a bound Aboriginal woman.
Lifelong gamer, and professor of gender and representation in video games at the University of Toronto, Victoria McArthur remembers some of the greatest female heroes in gaming history.
She says the characters she picks are beloved “for their depth and capabilities.”
1) The Samus Reveal (Metroid)
Mcarthur’s personal favourite: upon defeating the final boss, the iron-clad Samus removes armour to reveal it is a woman.
2) Princess Peach (Super Mario 2)
Former damsel Princess Peach becomes a playable character (and the longest jumper) in Super Mario 2.
McArthur recognizes the progression, now playing a Peach, “who is on par with the bros — capable of making meaningful progression through the game as a capable member of the team!”
3) Chell (Portal)
McArthur applauds Chell for being “capable and resourceful” and applauds that she is not sexualized.
4) Alice (American Mcgee’s Alice)
Forget the Disney princesses, this Alice traipses through wonderland with a knife at the ready and is not afraid of the queen “or her creatures.”
McArthur adds, “Her persistence in the face of danger makes her a refreshing female in gaming.”
5) Amaterasu (SMITE)
McArthur says Amaterasu stands out because “her power, rather than her femininity, is central to how she is represented in the game.”