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 persona’s have made.
Join us weekly as we highlight the most memorable and influential heroines in video games of past and present.
Clementine – The Walking Dead
Who She Is:
One of the most magnetic protagonists in recent history isn’t an assassin, a war hero, or a space marine; she’s an eight-year-old girl. There is something instantly gripping and endearing about Clementine of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. As the player, we first meet Clementine shortly after the onset of the zombie apocalypse in Georgia. The game’s events take place in the same fictional setting as Robert Kirkman’s comic series of the same name. Clementine has been stranded at her suburban home, as her parents had left for Savannah sometime before the outbreak of the plague. She decides to leave with playable character Lee Everett in search of her parents. With Lee at her side, she embarks on an adventure through the crippled wastes of civilization. This zombie apocalypse breaks the typical mold; it isn’t merely about slaughtering the mindless undead or hiding out once society has bottomed out. This experience revolves around keeping one little girl safe.
Why We Love Her:
Clementine is introduced as the co-protagonist of Telltale’s episodic graphic adventure The Walking Dead. For being only eight years old, Clementine displays notable intelligence and a keen sense of maturity. Clementine has a soft-spoken modesty about her, yet her timid nature cannot hide her strength. One very difficult moment for her is when she breaks her walkie-talkie. She had been holding on to it as her last connection to her parents. Although she is clearly emotional about it, she holds back tears. Clementine consistently remains upbeat and friendly despite the circumstances. She displays practicality and is able to improvise to help the playable character, Lee Everett, evade dangerous scenarios. She saves Lee’s life just after he meets her by handing him a hammer at a crucial moment just before an attack. While Clementine is just a young child, as vulnerable as any other, she’s not a hindrance or a walking target. She responds to the undead plague intelligently — hiding away in her treehouse when we first meet her, awaiting the return of her parents, and using mature judgment to leave with Lee when it seemed necessary without digging her heels in and throwing a tantrum. As a player you find yourself protecting Clementine not just because you have to…but because you want to. You make dialogue choices just to benefit Clementine; to earn her respect, or spare her feelings and raise her spirits.
While Clementine may not directly embody the traditional role of a heroine, she provides the other characters with hope and purpose. Clementine grips a wide audience; she represents purity and innocence in a world that is hanging on to humanity by a thread. From the first few moments she stepped onto our screens, Clementine draws us into her world. We’re by her side as she grows, cheering her on as she finds herself, terrified we won’t always be a part of her life. Seldom do characters provoke such deep investment. Like a moral compass, Clementine pushes toward the right direction even at the most dire circumstances.