While it’s still pretty rare to see a black female character in a video game (unless she’s a walking stereotype), over the past few years, games have started to increase their diversity of characters.
Here are five characters who kick ass, add to the gameplay, and are more than just eye-candy. Interestingly, while creating this list, I noticed that the lack of women of color in games is becoming genre-based. Fighting games (Christie, Storm, Elena, Lisa, Vanessa etc.) and shooters (Tisha, Ro, Alyx, Sheva) seem to have all of the black female characters, while RPGs, action games, and platformers don’t appear to have any (if you can think of an exception to that, please leave a comment)!
In RPGs where you can create your own character (such as Dragon’s Dogma, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc.) you can resolve this by creating your own black female character. Check out my Shep (below), for example. It’s an interesting divide, and I wonder what leads to that correlation. Leave your hypotheses in the comments!
Without further adieu, here are our top five black female characters.
Ro – Left 4 Dead
Rochelle (also known as Ro) is one of the four playable Survivors in Left 4 Dead 2. While she may start out as the “mild-” mannered reporter, she turns out to be a walking gun show, armed to the teeth, and ready to kick zombie butt.
Although there was that controversy with her being coded with a “Feminist Whore” skill, it was obvious that the guy who did that was intimidated by a strong female character…which happens to be our favorite kind of character!
Storm – UMvC3 and others
Storm isn’t just a video game character; she started out in comics, of course. Since then, she’s been featured on TV, in movies, and in video games. She was one of my earliest role models and is an all-around awesome character, known for her leadership skills, powerful weather abilities, and diplomacy.
She’s been in tons of games, from Marvel Ultimate Alliance to X-Men Legends to Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. In all those games, she’s a kickass character, with powerful attacks that make her the constant in my rotating teams in UMvC.
Despite being from Africa, Storm is the very opposite of a stereotypical black character, and that’s why we love her.
Sheva Alomar – Resident Evil 5
We’ve gushed about Sheva before, but we have to bring her up again. The first thing that makes her special is that she’s the first black female partner of Chris Redfield. The next thing that makes her special is that she’s a positive, black role model, known for her brains and strength.
Her depth of character and growth were highlights of Resident Evil 5, an awesome feature in an entertainment medium known for one-sided or shallow female characters.
Alyx Vance - Half-Life 2
Alyx Vance is your companion in Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Alyx is blasian, making her one of the few mixed characters in gaming (you all know I’m partial to mixed girls, being one myself). Alyx is known for her intelligence and beauty, especially because she’s fully clothed and not designed to be a sex object.
UGO.com ranked Alyx 33rd in their “Top 50 Videogame Hotties” list, stating, “Now here’s a girl that you could actually take home to Momma. Alyx has it all: brains, good looks, and a stinging personality that can keep the comers at bay.” They later listed her at number eight in their “Top 11 Girls of Gaming” article, stating “there’s just something about her that makes her unforgettable.”
How is she so sexy and memorable despite not looking like Rachel from Ninja Gaiden? She has personality and guts.
Aveline - Assassins Creed: Liberation
My reaction to the reveal of Aveline was pure, unadulterated joy. Being of Caribbean descent myself, I am familiar with the stories of the maroons and the fight for freedom that many black people took part in. Seeing this complicated and grown-up subject tackled in a video game was a wish come true!
Aveline de Grandpré is the assassin in Assassins Creed III Liberation, the daughter of a slave and her owner. She’s also the first female and first black protagonist in the Assassin’s Creed series. Besides just being fun to play as, she also has wonderfully interesting relationships with the characters around her, including the women in her life, an aspect not often portrayed in video games.
Check her out meeting the first Native American Assassin:
The game tackles the delicate subjects of freedom, slavery, wealth and poverty, conflicting beliefs, and the meaning of family. She is an excellent role model and hero for young girls, and I hope her success convinces other game companies to give more black (or diverse in general) female protagonists a chance.