By Patrick Yacco
Originally published on Advocate.com February 07 2014 12:42 PM ET
On HBO's Looking, about three gay friends in San Francisco, Jonathan Groff plays Patrick, an earnest video game designer. Patrick made a very astute observation on a recent episdode after he chided his gay boss (Russell Tovey) for creating a game without any female avatars, adding that he preferred playing as female video game characters himself. "Why do you play as a woman?" Kevin asked. "Maybe it is because I'm gay but not for the reason you might think," Patrick responded. "Women are the outsiders in games and I relate to that. Gay people get it."
We sure do. Female video game characters helped shape many of our childhoods, especially the gays of Generation X and Y. Thanks to Sega, Nintendo, Xbox, and the corner arcade, we lived vicariously through dozens of digital divas, but these remain the best:
Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man series
Regardless of whether or not you were playing arcade games in the 1980s, you're sure to have spent countless hours trying to capture power pellets as Ms. Pac-Man. She's credited with getting numerous women interested in gaming, and the addictive series has become one of the most famous franchises in history.
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
Lara Croft is a one-woman fighting machine. Tough as nails and ready for any situation, the Tomb Raider heroine has become an icon for strong female characters in video games (the Angelina Jolie movie certainly cemented her rep). The latest incarnation of the action-adventure series sold millions of copies, and it's proof that everyone, gay or otherwise, would want to be Lara for at least a few hours a day.
Joanna Dark, Perfect Dark
Inspired by fictional characters like The X-Files' Dana Scully and La Femme Nikita's titular heroine, Joanna Dark is like a female Bond. With her perfect aim and sharp intuition, Dark provides the brains and brawn of any special ops mission.
Samus Aran, Metroid
Samus is now the proud hero of one of the longest-running video game series, but '80s fans were stunned to learn that an alien-fighting soldier turned out to be a woman (she took off her suit at the end of the first game and was wearing a bikini). Not surprisingly, Samus Aran has returned to space numerous times to take on threats from across the galaxy and there's no sign of her stopping any time soon.
Zelda, The Legend of Zelda/Super Smash Bros. series
You may think of her as just another royal in need of rescuing, but Zelda has more than enough proved her mettle in the eponymous Legend of Zelda series. Not only is she a superb monarch, but she's also snuck away numerous times to join Link on his quests. She's appeared as both Sheik and Tera and fought side-by-side with the famous adventurer, and you can also choose Zelda as your avatar for your Super Smash Brothers games.
Chun-Li, Street Fighter 2
When it comes to female fighters, Chun-Li is legendary, and who wouldn't want to play her in the various Street Fighter games? She's an undercover law enforcement agent specializing in martial arts, scouring the streets for justice. Beware her fierce high kicks and daring, upside-down "Spinning Bird Kick."
Vampires beware! This sexy huntress is as deadly as she is beautiful. Her skill with blades is impressive, as is her thirst to destroy the evil creatures of the night. There's even a movie about her starring bisexual beauties, and rumored one-time lovers, Kristanna Loken and Michelle Rodriguez.
Faith, Mirror's Edge
With every day bringing more stories of computer hacking and intrusion by the NSA, the world is looking more and more like that of Mirror's Edge. Luckily, we have Faith to help us evade the government's tendrils. Heck, it's probably smart for modern courier services to have a parkour master on staff — New York City traffic is dangerous!
Ling Xiaoui, Tekken series
Making her debut in Tekken 3, this fearless woman is not to be crossed. Ling Xiaoyu's background in Chinese martial arts is second to none and all the more impressive due to her youth. With speed and energy on her side, it's one wonder Xiaoyu is one of the most desirable characters in the Tekken series.
Nina Williams, Tekken series
Often described as one of the sexiest female characters of all time, Nina is all one of the fiercest. This Irish assassin has appeared throughout the Tekken fighting series and had a noted rivalry with her younger sister, Anna, that made Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine look like best friends.
Kitana, Mortal Kombat
With her fan of blades and furious martial arts skills, Kitana is one of the most vicious characters in any fighting game. Her history as an assassin gives her a deadly background, but also the strength to lead any Mortal Kombat team. "Finish him!" the game would scream before Kitana decapitated her foe.
Chell, Portal series
A rare example of a lead hero who just happens to be a woman, Chell leads players on one of the most delicious quests of all: finding cake. The darkly humorous Portal series is at its heart a puzzle game, but also a devilishly fun poke at robots and humanity's overreliance on technology.
In the early days of arcade games, there were few options for female characters. However, the creators of Gauntlet were sure to include a least one warrior woman. While there wasn't much in terms of backstory, no dungeon-exploring team was complete without this sword-wielding blond beauty.
Tyrus Flare, Golden Axe
Another classic arcade entry, the appropriately-name Tyrus Flare was the strongest magic user in the original Golden Axe release (she also looked good riding a dragon). Her fire-based spells proved invaluable against the evil Dark Adder, and inspired numerous female characters in fantasy role-playing games.
Jill Valentine, Resident Evil series
If the zombie apocalypse does happen, you'll definitely want Jill on your side. A beautiful mix of brains and good aim, the original Resident Evil character has stayed strong for over a decade, and I'm sure she'll be fighting off the undead for years to come.
Terra Branford, Final Fantasy VI
One of the most famous characters (female or otherwise) to come from the Final Fantasy series, Terra is a woman breaking free from her past while trying to save the future. She's powerful enough to destroy worlds, but brave enough to use her abilities for justice and peace.
Princess Peach, Mario Bros. series
The original gaming damsel in distress, Princess Peach has gone on to prove her strength throughout the history of the Mario series. Whether it's headlining her own title or burning rubber in a go-kart, Peach is a force to be reckoned with.
Princess Daisy, Mario Bros. series
Another princess from the Mario franchise, Daisy has the distinction of being Luigi's object of affection in the much-maligned Super Mario Brothers feature film. Nevertheless, Daisy provides some necessary female power in the Mushroom Kingdom, and is the perfect partner in Mario Party or Mario Tennis.
Amy Rose, Sonic series
A cute and adorable alternative to the blue and boyish Sonic, Amy is the series' loveable heart. Although sometimes seen as a lovesick child, Amy is fast and furious when it comes to catching rings, and no adventure is complete without this pink hedgehog.