It wasn't that long ago when video games were thought of as nothing more than a child's hobby. This idea was only reinforced by the immaturity of the industry, bombarding us with a plethora of busty babes wearing skimpy clothing. Of course, these women tend to draw more attention than the occasional well-designed and far more interesting female characters who wear actual clothes and aren't quite so strangely proportioned.
This is an issue that still plagues the gaming industry today—just look at pretty much any fighting game and your eyes will be immediately inundated with these ribald relics of the past. Thankfully, nowadays it's much easier to find a more realistic female character among the increasingly shallow sea of Ivy Valentines and Chun-Lis.
This list isn't just comprised of some of the most memorable women in video games—these ladies also happen to be total badasses.
I've never been a big fan of the Final Fantasy series, primarily because I've never been able to climb over the steep barrier that is the turn-based JRPG. But even I, a lowly Final Fantasy non-convert, can respect the feminine powerhouse that is Lightning. I could go on, but I'd rather leave it to Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama to explain what makes her so appealing: "In past Final Fantasy titles, female characters in the leading role have traditionally been very... girl-you-want-to-protect... For Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning is not only beautiful, but she's very strong. She has this independence. In battle, she's very graceful in her movements, but she's very powerful and she's very speedy."
Sarah Kerrigan has a fan following that's almost as impressive as the legions of Zerg she controls. And rightly so. She was left for dead, but instead of dying at the hands—or claws—of the Zerg swarm, Kerrigan is assimilated into them, eventually becoming the Queen of Blades. She seeks revenge, and she'll bulldoze over anyone who's unfortunate enough to get in her way.
Lara Croft might suffer from some fairly unreal proportions, but that's not unreasonable seeing as she's been around for the better part of two decades. Her newest incarnation in the highly anticipated Tomb Raider reboot, due out sometime next year, adds more humanity to the series. It'll be interesting to see this younger, more innocent version of the femme fatale many of us have been kicking butt as for so many years.