Which Video Game Was The First To Feature A Female Protagonist?
In the summer of 1986 Nintendo released Metroid, the first of many successful games in the franchise. Players took on the role of Samus Aran, an intergalactic bounty hunter and spent the entire game exploring the Planet Zebes–fighting off space pirates and dangerous Metroid life forms all along the way.
Only after hours of exploration and ultimately beating the game is it revealed to the player that Samus Aran is, beneath all the armor and weaponry, a woman. In a 2010 interview with IGN, Metroid designer Yoshio Sakamoto reflects on the decision to make Samus female:
When we were almost done with the development of Metroid, one of our staffers casually suggested “Why don’t we make Samus Aran a female character to surprise the player?” Back then I thought it was a nice idea, but I couldn’t foresee what a huge impact this would have on the future of the franchise. Up to this day, I’m thankful to the person that came up with this idea, although I honestly can’t recall who actually made the suggestion.
While the reveal isn’t particularly shocking to modern gamers playing through the 1980s classic more than 30 years after the fact, it was the first time the gamers of yesteryear came across a game where a woman was doing the saving instead of waiting to be saved.