When I received a PS4 for my 5th work anniversary recently (thanks Skillsearch!) I wanted to know what I should be playing! I’ve always been a fan of simulation games such as The Sims and the classics like Theme Hospital, along with the old school point and click adventures starting with the incredible Secret of Monkey Island. (I recently replayed these and forgot how good they are and playing as an adult they are a lot funnier than I remembered! I think some of the humour may have gone over my head at a young age!).
Not many of my friends are into console games though so what’s the next best thing? Ask the Twittersphere!
I asked the ladies of Twitter for recommendations to see what people like me were playing and wanted to share those results with you. I was lucky enough to get a retweet from @PlayStationUK too which means I got an incredible amount of responses regardless of gender. Thank you to everyone that responded!
Top Console Games for Women (as recommended by women… and a few men)
NB: I’ve only included those that had more than 5 votes as I had sooooo many recommendations - sorry Crash Bandicoot you’ll always be in my personal top 5!
Within the top five recommendations, there were some clear themes, they’re all third-person games with in-depth story-lines and wonderful worlds to get lost in.
But what I loved to see most is the range of strong female characters that these recommendations have! Uncharted alone has three female leads to choose from which is something that’s been massively lacking in years gone by.
The standout games for me is, of course, Horizon Zero Dawn. Combing a strong female character with an impressive narrative, and a truly stunning game visually and you can see why it has become such a massive hit.
Image Source: Gorilla
I asked a few of my new twitter friends about why they loved the game so much and Harriet Megan’s response really sums up how I imagine a lot of women feel about their representation in games.
The second most recommended game - the Last of Us - also has a pretty epic female lead.
Ellie is an incredibly strong female character who started life as an NPC in the original game, and thanks to her popularity is now the main character in the upcoming sequel, The Last of Us 2 (release date TBC).
Described as fiercely strong and badass you can see why this came in at number 2 and why she has such a huge fanbase. Good on Naughty Dog for following up with a sequel that will allow fans to play as this awesome character!
What we love about these women is that playing from their perspective isn't turning men away either! Which goes to show that in the same way that women can have a great time playing as male characters, men can enjoy playing from a female perspective too.
With the female characters we've discussed here (and the many others we’ve not even touched on) it’s clear to see the industry is moving forward and creating more inclusive games, giving women more opportunities to play as characters they can associate with and telling the stories that are more meaningful to us - but without losing the action and excitement that got us into games in the first place!
It can only get better from here and I for one can’t wait to see what comes next.
An exciting time for Women in Games
The shift towards female characters is undoubtedly down to the influence of the rising number of women working in games. I recently attended the 10-year anniversary lunch for Women in Games, as part of the Develop Conference in Brighton, and listening to the stories and meeting some of the 200 women attending was an inspiring experience.
After Gamergate, many people worried that all the hard work that was being put in to encourage women to get into games would be ruined. But ironically, the attacks seem to have had the opposite effect, inspiring many women to pursue a career in the games industry.
Speaking to Marie Claire earlier this year Naomi Clark, 42, a game designer and professor at New York University’s Game Centre said “More people have started paying attention to creators who don’t look like this stereotypical idea of who’s making games. Today, about half of applications are from women, both in our master’s and undergraduate programs.”
We’re seeing a lot more being done to educate girls about the industry of games. Laila Shabir, founder of Girls Make Games says “It’s important to teach girls to make video games. That voice is missing in the industry and you can see it in the marketplace in the kind of games that exist”.
“When young boys grow up and become game developers, they make certain kinds of games that are more appealing to boys and I think the cycle just continues,” Shabir told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
But with the spotlight fully shining on the subject of women in games, we have a real opportunity to break the cycle. Studios are doing more than ever to support women in games and there’s more encouragement in education than we’ve seen before.
I’m aware there are still many issues that need resolving, but with more and more strong women making our games and starring in them, we’re leveling-up pretty quickly!
If you're looking for your next job in games, female or not, please get in touch with me on 01273 287007 or KJ@skillsearch.com. Would love to have a chat about your next move!
Cover Image Source: Guerrilla Games