Halloween is a strange time of year. Rather than run away from what frightens us, we seek out the scary and welcome the weird. We dress up as monsters and dress down our houses, stringing cobwebs and turning our front lawns into graveyards. We watch hair-raising movies and play spooky games. We delight at the delicious tingle of a good scare.
Believe it or not, it’s good for kids to get a scare now and then. When we talk about building persistence, it’s about flexibility as much as it is focus, and a large part of that is developing the confidence and will to take risks. That means being brave enough to understand and face one’s fears. This is an especially important learning experience for girls, who are four times more likely than boys to be cautioned by parents. As Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani puts it, we tend to teach our boys to be brave and our girls to be perfect. It can be a tough cycle to break for parents, but it helps to have books, films, and games that feature strong female role-models. So, what better time than Halloween to take a look at three of our favorite spooky video games with brave girl protagonists?
Whispering Willows The first game on the list is Whispering Willows, a side-scrolling mystery adventure. Its brave girl protagonist is Elena Elkhorn, a 13-year-old girl who ventures out in the dead of night to search for her missing father, the caretaker of a rambling estate. Her first stop? The family crypt. How much braver does it get? As the descendant of a fictitious Native American tribe, Elena is in possession of an amulet that grants her spirit form, allowing her to see, speak with, and help ghosts. But ghosts aren’t the scariest things Elena faces on her quest. As she explores the Whispering Willows estate, she finds artifacts that tell her more about her ancestors who lived on the land centuries before, the settlers who violently took it over, and the generations that came after. With few traditional video game “enemies” to face, most of Whispering Willows’ spookiness comes from the generally eerie atmosphere, the sadness of the ghosts, and the regretful stories of the past. Check out our Whispering Willows Playbook, a learning guide for you and your child that includes tips on building key thinking skills.
Gone Home Exploring the past and finding missing loved ones are also themes in the next game on the list, a first-person mystery exploration entitled Gone Home. The brave girl here is Kaitlin, a young college student who returns home after a year abroad to find that her mother, father, and sister are missing. In order to solve the mystery, Kaitlin must look through every room in the house, reading notes, letters, diaries, and examining other artifacts to figure out what happened while she was away. Exploring an empty house in the dead of night is spooky enough, but uncovering painful truths about one’s family can be even scarier. Your teen girl will appreciate the game’s atmosphere — just the right touch of dark — and you’ll appreciate the lessons in bravery and social awareness. Our Gone Home Playbook can tell you more about the self-awareness skills your child can learn from the game.
Gravity Ghost Rounding out the list is a delightfully artsy physics-based 2-D puzzle platformer entitled Gravity Ghost. Players take control of Iona, a ghost girl traveling through space in search of her beloved pet fox, Voy. Iona’s journey crosses seven constellations, each governed by a guardian spirit who offers her guidance. Iona, in turn, must retrieve shards of a planet central to the universe and guide the spirits of wild animals to the afterlife. Like Whispering Willows and Gone Home, Gravity Ghost is a narrative game without the enemy encounters found in a traditional video game. Underneath the beauty and novelty of Gravity Ghost is a deeper story in which the enemies are anger, isolation, and vindictiveness and the ultimate goal is to learn to forgive — one’s self as well as others. Gravity Ghost can also help your child develop flexibility, self-control, and working memory. Learn more in our Gravity Ghost Playbook.
Have you or your kids played any of these video games with brave girl protagonists? What did you think? Do you know of any other games that feature strong girls? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below, or come talk to use on Facebook! We’d love to hear from you.