Not You Average Three-Way: Alice, Chell and Faith

So, today we’ll be looking at some of my favorite video game heroines, Alice (yes that Alice) from American McGee’s Alice and Alice: Madness Returns; Chell from Portal and Portal 2; and finally Faith from Mirror’s Edge. Unlike last week where I didn’t choose a winner, I think one of these women will emerge victorious over the others.


Who Would Win In A Fight: I included three women in this week’s feature because I honestly wasn’t sure who would win in a fight between Chell and Faith. Chell has the portal gun which would allow her to forever run away from Faith, while Faith is usually unarmed and is trained to run from combat. If they met in combat, I feel like they might take one look at each other and GTFO. They each probably have better things to worry about.

She’s holding a messed up doll and a bloody knife, c’mon!

Alice, on the other hand, is quite literally insane! And she carries a knife. A big knife. Did I mention there was a knife? If you compare their images above, clearly Alice is the only one covered in blood. Confronted with each of these women, I would probably high-five Chell, move out of Faith’s way, and scream and run if I met that particular image of Alice. If the movie/book Carrie has taught us one thing it’s that girls with slight mental problems should not be toyed with lightly. Alice carries the only offensive weapon, and she would hands-down win in a fight with Chell or Faith. And with the weird physics of Wonderland at her disposal, she could probably catch one of them too.

Who has the best personality? Chell is clearly at a disadvantage in this competition due to the fact that she NEVER EVER TALKS. I know the whole ‘silent hero’ thing has been around a long time in video games, but it gets old. It’s hard to determine who Chell is other than just a shell for gamers to imagine themselves in. Chell is obviously intelligent and nimble-bodied, she has to be (for the sake of science!), but it is much less clear what drives Chell, and what goes on in her head.


Faith, on the other hand, is much more fully fleshed out. Faith is concerned for her sister, Kate, and proving her sister’s innocence is one of Faith’s key motivators. She is intelligent, driven, spunky, everything a successful protagonist needs to be. She also has to make hard decisions as some of her colleagues become implicated in the conspiracy she’s trying to solve. As an added bonus, we get to see more of her through the cut scenes of Mirror’s Edge than we get to see of Chell.

Alice Liddell is of course mad. Through both games we see her dealing with the death of her parents and survivor’s guilt. In American McGee’s Alice, she is drawn back into Wonderland which has grown dark and tainted. Caterpillar explains to her that her mind is what has tainted the land. In Alice: Madness Returns she finds herself back in Wonderland, and oh gosh, it’s still a dark place. We get to know Alice through her memories and through items collected in the game.


What Alice clearly has going for her is her imagination. If Wonderland is all in her head, then the beautiful and horrific images of the game must stem from Alice. Players get to see the surface of Alice through her interactions with others, but we also get to see deep into her mind. Faith might be the girl you’d want as your friend, but Alice’s imagination can’t be beat.

Who is the most objectified? None of these characters is particularly objectified, a statement I don’t often get to make about female video game characters! If you ever troll through the top 100 lists of beautiful game characters, Chell, Faith and Alice typically don’t make the lists (well, Faith does occasionally but I’m assuming that’s because of the whole fetish for Japanese looking things).

Both Chell and Faith are games that employ 1st person perspective, we only see the world through their eyes. This means that the player is given very little opportunity to stare at the character and comment on their “fuckability”. When you do see Faith or Chell, they are wearing clothing appropriate to their environments (unlike Lara Croft wearing shorts in the snow). Their proportions seem average, and neither is presented as a sexual object.

Alice, who doesn’t quite look legal, is also presented in a fairly non sexual way. You see her stockings and dress which are all covered in blood. She’s so crazy that no one wants anything to do with her, romantically or otherwise. However, as this picture shows, cosplayers get up to all kinds of things as Alice (Also, this is just an amazing picture).

Picture courtesy of deviantart’s  AliceYuric

There’s something about Alice that taps into the whole ‘sexy schoolgirl” fantasy, which often gets exploited in cosplay and halloween costumes. So while Alice isn’t particularly objectified in-game, outside of that game people have managed to make her quite the seductress.

Who would YOU choose?

My bias in this article has hopefully been pretty clear, Alice wins this competition for me hands down. She is an interesting character, she has a wicked knife, and the dark portrayal of Wonderland that her mind generates is amazing.

Disagree? Have Suggestions for future features? Let me know in the comments!


    • I do enjoy the strong silent type. There are just so few good female protagonists out there, that I always find myself want MOAR! I really liked Chell, but Glados really stole the show for me, and I feel like the protagonist should be the most interesting character.

    • I would not want Link to have a voice. I’m not sure he has anything particularly intelligent to say. I’d LOVE it if at the end of Portal 2 Chell turns around and says “Bitch” or “Have fun with the cake” to Glados.

      I feel like Chell withstands a lot of emotional abuse from both Wheatly and Glados that a lot of silent heroes don’t. Which clearly makes her even more of a strong character, but I really want her to react just once 🙂

  1. Chell strikes me the same way Samus does and leaves me a sad, hollow feeling whenever there isn’t a response to something in game. However, I’d prefer not talking over talking waaaay too much, so I’m torn.

    And totally with you on Alice for this. It’s not very often that a character and her setting work together so well.

  2. I love both Chell and Faith! Two of my favorite games ^_^ And both girls are kickass and awesome! I just recently bought Alice Madness Returns (last friday actually) and haven’t gotten the opportunity to try it out yet, but now I’m really looking forward to it 😀

    • Its super fun! If you’re playing it on PC there is a weird umbrella glitch part way through the game. If you google “alice: madness returns umbrella” you should find some sort of fix (or just use a PC controller).

  3. For me, I liked that Chell was a silent character, and that you rarely even SEE her. This made it easy for me to be immersed in the game. I really felt that everything was being directed at me, not to someone I was just playing.

    • Definitely! There’s that aspect as well. It’s really easy to get immersed in Portal because you aren’t constantly being addressed as a character, you are being addressed as you in a way. Sometimes its harder to reach that level of immersion with fleshed out or voiced characters (especially when they say stupid things constantly). Sometimes voiced characters can be really inspiring to me. I had a hard time immersing myself in Portal because I wanted so much out of Chell, mainly because there are so few female characters out there to play!

      • I totally agree. I love games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age II, and even SWTOR because I thought the voice acting really added to the character. But for me, I don’t even include Portal in this category. I don’t think until maybe half-way through Portal 2 did I even realize there WAS a character, (It’s been a while since I’ve played them, so I’m having a hard time remembering). I thought it was SUPPOSED to be first person, and the player was the one being forced to do the puzzles. But then there’s clues in Portal 2, and after reading articles/seeing marketing outside the game, I realized that I was actually playing someone. Maybe it’s just me and my total non-observant-ness (heh…), but that was my experience anyway.

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