Michaela Helean/Observer staff writer

One of my favorite pastimes is playing video games with my boyfriend.

But lately, most popular games seem to be heavily masculine and drain the fun out of gaming. The feminine games that exist aren’t as fun either, because the gaming companies try too hard to make it “girly.” So I tried to find games that are fun and inclusive to women in a tasteful way.

According to Gamer Demographics by DataProt, 46% of American gamers are women.

Yet, games do not match this demographic because some of them do not represent different genders. Main characters in these games are often male and often stereotyped. Sometimes, though, the occasional game will have a strong female lead. Another problem is women are often sexualized in games. An example of this to me is, Lara Croft, the main character in Tomb Raider video games.

So far, there are a few that I play and have fun with. They highlight equality in a reasonable and tasteful way. But before I go into detail there are a few factors that make a game fun.

The first factor is the graphics. If the game looks like it could be played in arcade with quarters, then it probably has a simpler plot and mode than other more modern games, though it can be fun to return to older games once in a while. I still love playing pinball and pong.

The second factor is plot development. Some games do not really have a story to them and it gets boring after a while. Sure, it might be great at first, but later it feels repetitive. An example of this would be ForzaHorizon — a racing game series that lets you customize and buy cars.

The last factor is the personality of the game. This might seem silly, but it is important because some games will have the graphics and the plot, but don’t appeal to the individual. Everyone has different taste when it comes to gaming.

So with that in mind, these games are what I would recommend if you like inclusive gaming:

Halo Game Series:

This was the first multiplayer game we played as a couple. We have not stopped playing since. The game series, which has a story to it from the very first game, is great for Sci-fi fans as it has space, aliens and galactic battle. The graphics improve in each game. It is kind-of cool to see the evolution of gaming, because Halo has been around for nearly 21 years. The game itself has options for anyone. If you like to go your own pace and play through a story, it has the campaign mode where you can hunt down aliens. If you like battle and chaos, it has online multiplayer where you can play with friends and fight people from around the world. The downside to this game mode is that it has so many players that some people try much harder than they need to. I often get overwhelmed. Now, as far as how feminine it is? It is decent. The game is fun for anyone and players can customize their character to be more feminine or masculine. Since you are battling aliens, it doesn’t matter. Also, in the story mode, there are a few commanding officers who are women. It evens out well and doesn’t feel like the game developers tried too hard to make female characters “girly” or too sexual. Fair warning though, this game takes some getting used to and difficulty is at a higher level. I recommend playing the campaign first before playing online with other people.

New Lego Starwars: The Skywalker Saga:

As a die-hard Lego video game fan, this game was highly anticipated. If you are a Starwars fan, this game is great for you. It is very easy to play and follows every movie in order. It is mainly a story-based game, but players can also explore and earn cool stuff off to the side. The graphics are insane to me (coming from a Lego game that is). The characters in the game react to your movements, which is weird. Lego games are notorious for making their games comedic, as well. Throughout the game there are little gags and Easter eggs. Some of them are pretty silly, but it makes the experience a bit more fun. Now I know this might seem like a “kids” game but it is plenty of fun for everyone. Difficulty varies with each level, but anyone can play it and get through it. That also means it is fairly even play for women and men.

The Last Of Us Part 1 and 2:

I was uneasy about this game at first as it is fairly graphic. This is not a game for children. However, the story is amazing and well thought out. This game is not multiplayer, which is kind of a bummer. It is slow paced and difficulty isn’t too crazy. The graphics, though kind of gruesome, are very detailed. If you like zombie apocalypse/post-apocalyptic themes, this is a great game. The main character in these games, Ellie, is a strong female lead. She is what many would call a normal girl. The developers of the game didn’t try too hard to make it seem like she was a girl. Again she wasn’t too “girly.” She also forms many relationships with people throughout the game from different walks of life. The game has it’s own personality and a very unique plot. The down side to this game is it is really slow paced. For most peopl,e the plot makes up for that though.

Need For Speed Heat:

For those of you who saw the movie “Need for Speed,” this game will be all too familiar. You race and customize cars to your liking. The best part is trying to escape from the cops, which will show up randomly while you are racing.  But, here’s the catch, while you are being chased you still have to finish the race. The graphics are pretty cool and the game lets you take “pictures” of your car in game. It is kind-of difficult to play at first, but you get used to it as you go. The characters can be customized and you can even change your voice. This game is for anyone who loves cars or Need for Speed or both. Unlike ForzaHorizon, this game doesn’t get boring. Oh, and you unlock more cars the more you race. The vehicles range in year, make, model and class. The downside to this game is it takes a while to get to first place. But it keeps you on your toes and the competition is fierce. It gets even more intense when you play with friends online.

 Life Is Strange: True Colors:

This was the most recent game I played. It is single player and well…strange. The player plays as the main character, Alex Chen, who has a “superpower” that shows her how people are feeling. Later in the game, she helps people calm down. As you play ,you are given a series of choices that will affect the outcome of the game. There are hundreds of combinations that land you in different endings. The game is mystical and fun. The graphics are pretty decent. And the main character is a more modern representation of a woman who is in her 20’s. The game brings awareness to depression and anxiety disorders as well. It also delves into grief and how to deal with it. It is a very slow game, but again the plot makes up for it.

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