Let me just make this clear: I love Heather Mason.
But then, what girl gamer couldn't? As Silent Hill 3's primary character, it's already refreshing to see someone of the female persuasion in the SH universe that isn't (a) spooky, (b) crazy, or (c) dead (although Cybil Bennett does come damn close to achieving such an ideal). On a larger scope, her overall capability and more or less realistic behavior in the face of danger also earns her a gold star from me.
And isn't that precisely what makes her so likable? Her personality is extremely well-written, granting her a range of emotions not often seen in video game characters. She's a smartass, she's tough, she's humorous, she gets pissed off, and she even (gasp!) expresses genuine fear. And even though she's been thrown into an extraordinary situation, she still acts like a realistic teenager, and at her age (seventeen) I was easily able to identify with her.
One of my favorite things about Heather is her love for her father. She shows it without it being sappy or overdone. One of my favorite cutscenes is at the very beginning of the game when she gets ready to leave the mall. She calls Harry on a pay phone and ends the conversation by saying, "I love you, too, Dad." Because of the grisly events that take place during SH3, there's very little opportunity to show this side of Heather.
Even when things seem completely out of control, though, Heather stands firm. I also love this scene when she comes to Harry's defense during her first meeting with the crazy-ass Vincent (another favorite character of mine):
As I've said before, Heather is the sole female lead of the Silent Hill series. I have so much respect for the game developers for not making her offensively girly because of this fact. Again, she's more like an actual person than a caricature of a girl: she's tomboyish, wears a thick padded vest and a denim miniskirt, dyes her hair blond but doesn't wear makeup, and official sources describe her as "a normal girl who loves shopping." It's a perfect balance of character traits that round her off without making her boring or offensive.
Throughout her story, we come to root for Heather. She's not perfect; she has flaws, from her short temper to the freckles on her face. She stands as my most favorite video game character of all time (just take a look at my icon!). And here at Girl in the Machine, game developers hand us so much to be negative about, and it feels wonderful to celebrate the positive aspects of women in games.
So, here's some homework for our readers! Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite female video game character. I'd love to hear your thoughts.