Female portrayal in video games has long been a tireless subject of controversy and debate. Commonly held opinions implicate that women are primarily represented in submissive roles, through sexual objectification, or by being simply outnumbered. Though very relevant, my purpose is not to argue the validity of these views. As a life-long gamer and a female, I feel our society has become so preoccupied fighting the good fight for our digital dignity that we unknowingly dismiss or ignore the substantial, wholesome impact many female characters have made on video game history. So my purpose, rather, is to celebrate the formidable and inspiring instances of feminine awesomeness that have left a mark on the industry. With nearly half of all present-day gamers being female, I feel it is important to honor the positive contributions our pixel comprised personas have made.
Join us weekly as we highlight the most memorable and influential heroines in video games of past and present.
Alyx Vance: Half-Life 2
“A Combine zombie. Zombie Combine That’s, that’s like a… ah… a Zombine! Right? Heh…”.
Who she is:
You were caught. The merciless Combine Civil Protection units have intercepted you. And now you face the end of your mission and potentially the end of your life. You hear gunshots and the sounds of struggle. You then see her face. You hear her voice, “Doctor Freeman, I presume?”. And that’s the moment she saves your life… the first time of many. Alyx Vance, computer expert, athlete, and revolutionary. She smiles and pulls you to your feet.
Alyx Vance is a close friend, ally, and arguably the co-protagonist of Gordon Freeman in Valve’s FPS Half-Life2 and its episodes. She is a key figure in the Resistance campaign against the advances of the alien overlords, The Combine.
Why we love her:
Alyx is the most proactive character in the game. She acts as a guiding force for Freeman, always planning the next move and working to progress the plot. Even when Alyx is not present with Freeman she aids by directing him with his objectives, providing supplies, or at times by being a motivational factor alone. An example of indirect aid is in the chapter Black Mesa East, when she gives Gordon the gravity gun and instructs him how to use it.
Unlike many other video game companions, her character is so rich and so central to the plot that the entire game could’ve really been written from her perspective. She is portrayed in a highly capable and realistic manner. Alyx is practically constructed for the world in which she exists. She is a highly skilled hacker, able to infiltrate Combine computer systems. Aside from being a good fighter, Alyx is also proficient with firearms and frequently aids Freeman in combat. Alyx fights alongside Gordon through a section of City 17 during the armed uprising in the chapter Anticitizen One. She is agile and useful in bypassing security systems and reprogramming enemy equipment.
Alyx is a strong, competent woman. Though what makes her character truly stand out is not only the fact that she is a female, but rather that she embodies hope and humanity prevailing in a somber world brawling on the brink of oblivion. Alyx is very much the human element of this dystopian world. Her dynamics, from her sense of humor to her raw emotion, encompass what being human is really about.