This morning I was oh so innocently scrolling through twitter, as I found somebody tweeting about an article about “Video Games for Women”. The article in question was coming from a German Lifestyle-Blog mainly gearde towards, well, women and it could not have been more disappointing
My first instinct was to write about this article, drag it, talk about how toxic it actually was and how it was playing into so many stereotypes. But I won’t.
Yes, the listicle mainly lists mobile games (Cake Shop 2, for example … Because women cook and bake you guys! So feminist!) and Sudoku (yes … not even a game here). Yes, it’s poorly written. And yes, the research is incredibly poorly done … But again I won’t.
Here’s why: The article is from November. No reason to flog a dead horse. Since then they’ve added a disclaimer to the article. It’s as poorly written as the piece itself but to me it shows that the creators didn’t actually have any ill will in publishing it. I’d like to believe that they just didn’t do there research very well.
And honestly: I support what they’re trying to do. I like media aimed at women talking about not traditionally feminine things. It helps the conversation and it might get some women into video games who wouldn’t otherwise consider it. Girl-on-Girl-Hate is a huge thing – a lot of the negative feedback I’ve gotten for being into games came from women!
But it has to be done well.
So i thought to myself: I can actually do better.
So here’s a list of video games for women.
Disclaimer: I say for women, given the context.
The games mainly deal with issues (mostly) regarding women, deal with female relationships or have female protagonists.
Nobody’s keeping you from playing them, though. You’re a guy, go ahead. Agender? Doesn’t matter. Intersex? You go play!
Ute by Lea Schönfelder
Ute is a flash driven web game and completely free. It is however Not safe work work and graphic and sexual: The depictionsaren’t very realistic but sexual acts and genitals are part of the game.
You play as Ute – a young woman, whose grandmother tells her to sleep with as many men as possible before she gets married.
So that’s what the player does: They meet men, then sleep with the – you have to press certain buttons to the given rythm – try not to get caught and break their hearts. As soon as Ute is through with all of them, except for one, she can marry who’s left.
Ute is a weird game. When I first played it, I didn’t know what to expect and it pretty much hit me full frontal.
Analysis and interpretation are pretty much left to the player. And that’s what I like about it.
Ute still deals with some important issues, such as Slut Shaming and Female Promiscuity.
Play it here.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange can probably be described as a modern classic. Even if you’ve never played a video game in your life, you’ve probably heard of this one.
It’s weird that it became such a success, given that the developers have been told that a video game so focused on its female protagonist would never sell …
You – the player – skip into the skin of Max Caulfield a young photographer returning to her hometown to go to aprestigious art school.
But thing have changed: Soon you bump back into your childhood friend Chloe being threatend by the schools resident bully. He shoots and Max realizes: She can turn back time. And so she does to save Chloe.
Ths only sets thing in motion: Chloe herself has changed a lot and she’s looking for someone: Her friend Rachel Amber went missing and Chloe seems to be the only one who still cares.
Life is Strange tells a beautifully melancholic Coming-of-Age story. It deals with so man deep and sometimes dark topics at once: Growing up, Girlhood, Abuse – sexual and physical – depression and finding your sexuality. I don’t want to spoil to much since most of these themes are tied to certain characters.
Life is Strange is a beautiful way to come into one’s own.
Get it here.
I have yet to find a game that at the same time gives me incredible anxiety and yet somehow manages to relax me.
Shelter doesn’t really have a plot, yet it manages to tell a story: You are a badger mother, who’s being followed around by her five cubs.
What starts out as a relaxing romp through the wild an whimsy forrests soon becomes a struggle: You have to protect your cubs, feed them, keep them away from predators. It manages to make the danger feel real but it also treasures the calm moments.
Shelter just works. it works wihtout a huge cinematic plot. It works without gunfire. It works without dialogue. Shelter just let’s it’s gameplay and visuals talk – That in and of itself is already an achievment.
Dealing with themes such as motherhood, community and loneliness (Your cubs can and will die and as soon as they’re gone. They’re gone) it is clearly a game that serves food for though. Not just for women.
Get it here.
Fran Bow is not a game for the faint of heart. I wouldn’t really call it a horror game, though … It surley follows some genre conventions and it gets very gory at times – hell it even got around to jumpscaring me sometimes. But at the same time it invites the player out to an incredibly beautiful world, seen through the eyes of a child.
You play as ten year old Fran Bow. Your parents have just been murdered. You have been brought into an asylum for children (the game’s set in 1944, so that’s not a great place to be) and Mr Midnight – your black cat and most loyal friend is nowhere to be found. Oh: And you’re starting to see things … creepy things. What else is there to do than to find your cat and solve your parents’ murder?
Fran Bow delas with so many heavy topics: Abuse and trauma just being two of them. But it manages to stay incredibly positive and hopeful throughout. A lot of it is being explored through the eyes of a child and it helps.
As long as you can stand a little gore and are looking for a game to make you think: Fran Bow is there for you!
Get it here.
The Last of Us (And the Left Behind DLC)
When you’re looking for a game less “indie” The Last Of Us is my tip for you. I love this game and I am not the only one. Those who have played it are in awe.
The world as we know it doesn’t exist anymore. Cities are overrun by Zombies – the games version of zombies at least – militas and rebel groups rule over the last safe places.
You (mainly) play as Joel – a burnt-out opportunist smuggler, trying to get by. One day you and your partner recieve a new mission: You’re supposed to smuggle special cargo: A young girl named Ellie. And Ellie is who makes the game interesting. Ellie, you see, is immune to the fungus turning people into zombies and could be humanity’s only chance of survival.
When they first meet Ellie and Joel don’t get along – but after a while they develop a strong father-daughter like bond.
I like seeing a game that looks at the relationship between a “daughter” and her “father”. You usually don’t see that: It’s either mother and daughter or father and son.
The Last Of Us also manages to deeply dive into the social decay an actual apocalypse would have on our wordl. The whole zombie setup moves into the background – the game is more about the human relationships.
If you get the chance – go get the Left Behind DLC as well (it should be included in the Remaster). You get a view into Ellies past – of what little there is – and it’s almost better than the main game. I find the danger a lot more ambient, when playing as Ellie.
Maybe that’s because I was a 14-year-old girl not so long ago or maybe it’s because she can’t do most of what Joel can: She’s small and physically weak, so she can’t really kill zombies in direct confrontations.
Since Ellie is still so young you get a whole coming-of-age story: Questioning your sexuality and social position all included.
It’s a PS-exclusive so get it here.