Black Women in Fighting Games

Many people can agree that female representation in fighting games became popular in the early 90s with Street Fighter 2's success and it's introduction of Chun Li, the first playable female character to appear in a 1-on-1 fighting game.

Since then this has inspired many other developers beside Capcom to feature pretty yet strong women in their fighting games. Unfortunately while this opened the door for a number of nationalities from around the world, black woman wouldn't be as well represented as their male counterparts or neighbouring countries.

Black female characters in fighting games are few and far between, that's a known fact. Rosters in fighting games are usually hugely populated by East Asian and European women but rarely are other woc playable, especially black women. It's been this way forever and doesn't look to change any time soon.

Elena (Street Fighter)

Street Fighter's first black character to appear in the series was an African American boxer known as Mike, who appeared in Street Fighter 1 as a non-playable boss, but it wasn't until eleven years later that the series would throw it's first playable black female character into the mix, a Kenyan princess from East Africa.

Making her debut appearance in Street Fighter III: New Generation, Elena is a cheerful capoeirista who is presently pursuing her studies abroad. She is at present one of the tallest women in the Street Fighter series, standing at six foot.

Elena is a young woman with a pure soul and cheerful "tomboy" disposition, and is usually seen beaming or giggling innocently. While lively and kind-hearted, Elena is also an intelligent, sociable and culture-adaptive human being, always yearning to learn more about the world, which is the main reason she left her village.

She is a very cheery individual who enjoys meeting new people and this reason alone is what motivated Elena to enter the third world tournament. Elena also has a strange accent, which she refers to as something she picked up from her travels around the world in one of her win quotes in Street Fighter III: Third Strike. 

Elena's fighting style is Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial arts. The style utilises her powerful, long limbs to execute dance-like moves and fluid footwork. 
The reason why Elena uses Capoeira as a fighting style is because she was originally Brazilian until Capcom switched her nationality.

On first impression you'd probably not realise that Elena is an African woman from Kenya, as her silver white hair, blue eyes and tanned skin suggest otherwise. Elena's design is so ambiguous and far removed from her birthplace, that at one point fans were questioning Elena's race and ethnicity.

After a long absence, in 2014 Elena would make her triumph return as a DLC character in the final update to Street Fighter IV. This was Elena' first time in 3D and she looked absolutely amazing. Her athletic body, long legs and caramel skin tone never looked better before.

Grace (Fighting Vipers)

SEGA AM2 was one of the first video game companies to add a black woman to their 3D fighting game Fighting Vipers in 1995, two years before Street Fighter III's arcade release. No other fighting game series featured a playable black female character in any shape or form until Grace's debut.

She is a nineteen year old American fashion model in the town of Armstone, but despite her current career path, Grace had aspired to become a national ice skating champion during her younger days in high school. 

Many other popular fighting game series have followed suit including Tekken, Mortal Kombat and the Virtual Fighter series but none have come close to capturing the beauty and likeness of a black woman like Fighting Vipers. Female characters like Grace are still a rarity in modern fighting games, no matter how you spin it.

Many of Japanese fighting games tend to make their black female characters ambiguous which leads to heavy debate on said character's ethnicity and race, an issue not possible with Grace. A popular and unfortunate tropes seen in fighting games is to make their only black female character as light and ambiguous as possible.

Unlike Grace from Fighting Vipers whose character design and ethnicity isn't questionable in the slightest. Another tropes is to give these girls white hair and very pale skin in contrast to their real life counterparts.

Vanessa Lewis (Virtual Fighter)

In 2007, Sega AM2 released Virtual Fighter 5 on game consoles which featured a variety of characters from different nationalities, using a wide array of martial arts styles. Vanessa Lewis who is the first and only "black" female character in the franchise was given an extreme makeover.

Which at this point made her appear even more ambiguous than her initial debut in Virtual Fighter 4. In Virtual Fighter 5 Vanessa Lewis returned with her long flowing white hair but now also a rather pale complexion.

If you were to ask me or any person with a keen eye what Vanessa's racial makeup was in VF4, the majority of responses you would get is that she's black, I would myself would tell you she was black and would be confident enough not to use quotation marks.

Now, I'm not sure what possessed Sega AM2 to exceedingly alter the skin tone of this character. Neither can I fathom what would possess them to think they could get away with such a thing in this day and age.

The latest update to the game Virtual Fighter 5 released on June 6th 2012 yet since that time, we couldn't find one article from any of the major video game entertainment sites that commented on this drastic change.

Vanessa's whitewashing is quite disturbing and Sega AM2 never had an issue using a dark skinned female in their previous fighting game. Of course, trends were different back in the 90s. Black woman in particular, of all shades could be seen in films, television and music.

Today, the trends are rather different; black woman don't have nearly the presence they had in the 90s. Dark skinned woman in particular are nearly extinct on television and in film.

According to Vanessa Lewis and other characters like Tekken's Christie Monteiro and Lisa Hamiltion from the Dead or Alive series would fall into the group of "black but not too black."

This trope is something that the whole world should be familiar with: that is, the media's trend of hiring ethnicities of lighter hues in order for them to be more marketable and relatable.

In Virtual Fighter 4 Vanessa was not only dark skin but also rather muscular and voluptuous, which was fitting to the game, given her grappling fighting style. For Virtual Fighter 5, in addition to dramatically lightening her skin tone, Sega AM2 also toned down her muscle mass, giving her a delicate looking body.

This would make VF5 the first fighting game (and perhaps any other game genre) to encourage skin bleaching. Now obviously Sega AM2 doesn't bear the blunt of the practice of skin bleaching.

Skin Bleaching has become a profitable business way before any video game, as it is blatantly supported and publicized in most parts of the world, especially African and Asian countries.

Today, 3D fighting games are common and while VF5 doesn't recreate the wheel in terms of gameplay. by bleaching Vanessa's complexion, Sega AM2 set the trend in video games that would further harm the image of dark skinned women and that's a terrible thing.

Lisa Hamilton (Dead or Alive)

Which leads us onto another character, Lisa a.k.a Mariposa is one of our favourite Dead or Alive characters, she was described by Tomobu Itagaki as a "gift to the American fans". It made sense that he would do this as while the DOA series was frowned upon in Japan, it was favourable in America.

Light skin is part of the traditionalist Japanese notion of beauty; It's why Geisha coat their faces white, what about those insane Japanese woman who use to tan their complexion and bleach their hair, Ganguros?

They were actually rebelling against the Japanese regulation of beauty. There's no denying that the females of Dead or Alive, aside from their large boobs, are created on a rather traditional Japanese standard of beauty.

When Itagaki included Lisa in the Dead or Alive series, he bucked the trend somewhat, she still looked like a DOA girl with similar proportions and facial makeup but had dark skin. It made her stand out. Which in turn ignited a large discussion as to whether Lisa was black. a discussion that is still happening to this day.

However, Itagaki didn't really have an idea for the character, so when Lisa was inducted into the main series she unwittingly became the most impressive and fascinating character in the series.

She was a magnificent scientist who worked at DOATEC and was actually accountable for erasing Hayate's memories and creating Alpha-152 but she eventually left the company and became a luchador wrestler who used elements of Capoeira.

She also enjoys surfboarding, was the Captain of her college volleyball team and acts as an undercover agent. Yet despite all of this, she's an extremely good-hearted woman, able to befriend even the most cold hearted assassins. She's easily one of the most intriguing characters in DOA.

However, Tomonobu Itagaki left Tecmo's Team Ninja, TN was then acquired by Koei and the leadership of the team was given to Yosuke Hayashi. What's more, DOA had been reusing the same character models since Xtreme Beach Volleyball.

A new DOA with brand new character models was essential, but with a new team what would this mean for the characters? Hayashi openly stated that making the girls look "lighter and softer skinned" was a prime concern of his and for certain our worst fears were realized.

Lisa ended up with a lighter complexion. Presumably this is to appeal to a Japanese and weaboo audience and while she still has more of a tan than the rest of the cast, she looks extremely pale and it robs her of her racial identity.

What's more it will without doubt make the continuous "Is Lisa Black" discussion even more of a muddle. No matter what you believe, there's nothing to justify changing a character's design so drastically. The indisputable fact is that she is far paler in DOA5 than she was in early DOA games.

Christie monteiro (Tekken 4)

Namco bought in Christie Monteiro as the replacement to Eddy Gordo in Tekken 4. From Tekken 4 to Tekken 5 she went through a noticeable transformation which made her look extremely ambiguous and lighter in complexion.

She is the grandchild of a Legendary Capoeira teacher, the teacher of Eddy Gordo who taught him in the art of Capoeira during their time behind bars. While in prison, Eddy promised his maestro that he would teach Christie everything he knew about the Afro-Brazilian martial art.

Eddy found Christie briefly after his return from King of Iron Fist Tournament 3 and as promised learnt Christie the art of Capoeira. After only two years of training with Eddy, Christie became an admirable fighter.

Christie is the first Afro-Brazilian female fighter to appear in a video game series. Like her male counterpart she uses Capoeira and was a clone of Eddy until later in the series, when she was given several exclusive moves to use in her arsenal and differentiate herself from the original Capoeira practitioner.

Initially, the Tekken team wanted to create a female Capoeira fighter for Tekken 3, but was uncertain at the time and instead created a male character. Upon her debut in Tekken 4, however, Christie took Eddy Gordo's spot as the main featured Capoeira practitioner until Tekken 7.
Compared to any other female character in the game, she has been through the most transformations and rarely looks the same. Bandai Namco seem adamant on removing her tan and making the Brazilian pale as possible. 

Tanya (Mortal Kombat)

Tanya made her debut in the fourth instalment of the Mortal Kombat series, she was dubbed an 'Edenian' but regardless of this title, Tanya was regarded as Mortal Kombat's first black female character. Unless you count Jade, another woman of colour in the series whose skin tone has changed from dark to pale.

She's a slim, dark skinned female from Edenia. Originally portrayed as a herorine, she was quickly discovered to be a wolf in sheep clothing who worshipped Shinnok and was an ally to the Brotherhood of Shadow.

Tanya seems to view herself as a survivor more than anything else, justifying her choices as being the "right decisions". She is one of the few henchwomen from the Mortal Kombat series, and prides herself on her superior knowledge of magic and diplomacy.

Tanya is an adept fighter, relying on her agility and favoring powerful kicks coupled with her pyrokinetic abilities. She shows skill with her tonfas, using them to block her opponents weapons and even unorthodox manners such as rebounding projectiles.

After such a long absence from the series we were thrilled to see Tanya return amidst the potential whitewashing in Mortal Kombat X. Tanya is one of the few black she-villains in video games and it would be a shame if the character lost what made her unique in the first place.

You don't see see many dark skinned female characters in fighting games and there's absolutely nothing wrong with Tanya's gorgeous skin tone. Netherrealm whitening Tanya's complexion in MKX's story mode and then later offering her as old complexion as dlc was an insult to Tanya fans and dark skinned players.

What possessed Netherrealm to mess with Tanya's skin tone in the first place is beyond baffling, they surely wouldn't darken Kitana or Mileena's tone so why are they so adamant on lightening the skin tone of Jade and Tanya? What makes Tanya stand out the most is her beautiful dark skin and villain status and without these attributes she'd just be another Kitana.

Jacqui Briggs (Mortal Kombat)

The daughter of Jax Briggs and Earthrealm's first African American female character Jacqui Briggs made her debut in Mortal Kombat X. Like her father, Jacqui has cybernetic arms. She's also a skilled boxer who isn't afraid to get down and dirty, being able to knock out a grown man with her bare fists.

While Jacqui is the first black American to appear in Mortal Kombat, it's disappointing that Jax's daughter isn't at least brown skinned because let's face it, there is little  representation of dark skinned females in video games and Jacqui appears more bi-racial than everything.

While cute, Jacqui's appearance isn't as memorable as her original concept art and she doesn't have much going for her outside of The Special Forces storyline. Thankfully Mortal Kombat characters change appearance with each new iteration so Netherrealm still has the chance to transform Jacqui into a formidable character who isn't just another " heavy muscle" or sidekick.

With the right look and proper character development, Jacqui could become a popular character in her own right, but it's going to take some time and a lot of dedication. Let's make one thing clear, nothing is wrong with Jacqui's cornrows and it's refreshing to see black women with natural hairstyles being represented in fighting games for once.

Although we do feel that the only reason why Jacqui has cornrows is because the developers were unsure of what hairstyle to give their first American female character. The braids are beautiful but for her next look there's plenty of other natural hairstyles that could give Jacqui the extra oomph.

Master Raven (Tekken 7)

It happened, Bandai Namco finally introduced a black female character in Tekken 7 whose race couldn't be queried. The series has seen it's fair share of women from different ethnicities, but it wouldn't be until 2017 that Tekken would at long last receive it's first dark skinned female character.

In Tekken 7 as a secret agent, Master Raven embarks on her latest mission, enter the King of Iron Fist Tournament and take down her appointed target. As a member of the United Nations' secret intelligence service, she is nicknamed "Master Raven". She is a high ranking ninja with dozens of sub-ordinates who undertake hazardous missions.

Master Raven doesn't have ambiguous features, is extremely voluptuous in size and has long flowing dreadlocks down to her back. While the series has always been racially diverse, a character such as Master Raven was long overdue.

We can't stress enough how rare it is to see a dark skinned woman represented in fighting games, which is why we have to applaud Bandai Namco for once again doing what no other video game developer cared to do and that's create a playable dark skinned female character with natural hair and realistic proportions.

Though Master Raven's existence is not without flaws, the main criticism being that she's basically a female Raven on the surface. Master Raven is beautiful, but it would've been nice if she was her own character with a new fighting style, tying her to Raven meant we lost one black character in exchange for another.

On a positive note, Master Raven is without a doubt one of the least stereotypical black characters in fighting games. When's the last time you've seen a afrofuturistic female ninja whose in charge of a group of powerful ninjas? Then again this is Tekken and that's one of the things we love about the series.

Twintelle (Arms)

Nintendo were serious about racially diversifying their  new games, which is evident in Arms, a first party Nintendo fighting game which was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Twintelle is a dark skinned woman with curvylicious hips and twin pigtails. Unlike the other fighters, she has normal limbs but uses her hair as a weapon.

Twintelle was a pleasant surprise and really stands out in Arms, not only for her beautiful looks or curvy build, but also because she's the only dark skinned character in the game. It's no secret that in the past Nintendo games have rarely featured dark skinned characters, so this groundbreaking in terms of breaking down barriers. 

It's stated in her official bio that Twintelle is a famous celebrity and movie actress who enters the ARMS Grand Prix to take home the prize trophy. Not content with her career or accolades, the movie star looks to take home the big one. Twintelle has unique powers in that her aura can slow down incoming attacks.

The 26 year old actress is a cultured fighter who enjoys tea breaks, keeping her body in top shape, sniffing 
lavish perfumes and speaking in french dialect. Though Twintelle hasn't been given a nationality by Nintendo it's believe she is of French descent to due to her quotes.

Menat (Street Fighter V)

Street Fighter V's DLC Season 2 fighters consisted of five newcomers, one of them was Menat, a beautiful dark skinned Egyptian fortune teller with green eyes and purple hair. It's not often you'll find a dark skinned woman in the Street Fighter series but Menat joins Elena, Santamu and Fair Libre.

She can come off as an airhead at times, yet she has a courteous but serious mannerism. She travels the world to convey various fore-warnings. Sometimes, she can appear immature, energetic and cheery. Menat also has little patience for obstacles that stand block her part, as evident when she dealing with the lower ranked Shadaloo soldiers in her story.

Eliza (Skullgirls)

Eliza is a beautiful dark skinned Egyptian female character in Skullgirls Encore. Eliza is the nineteenth DLC fighter for Skullgirls. Having won the first DLC character vote, she was the third character to be conceived. It's worth mentioning that she was originally gonna be the main villain in the Skullgirls sequel.

Eliza is a prima donna who enjoys being the center of attention. Despite owning a charity blood bank, Eliza is at times a greedy individual who wants to keep the blood donations all to herself, just so she can retain her beauty and remain young looking. 

Vixen (Injustice 2)

Barely making it into Injustice 2, the beautiful female heroine Vixen is a premier skin for Cheetah. Vixen is a hero who was gifted an ancient totem through inheritance called the Tantu Totem, which gifts her the power of any animal on land, sea or air. In turn she uses this unique ability to fight for justice. At one point Vixen was once a model before receiving these powers hence the reason she's so pretty.

Like her comic counterpart, Mari is dark skinned with brown eyes, juicy lips and dark lipstick. She wears a silky, tight fitted top with the priceless Tatum Totem hung from her neck. Vixen's pre-fight intros with John Stewart suggest the part are romantically involved and in a relationship.


  1. C.Viper should have been black imo, yeah I know she was modeled after Angelina Jolie but looking at the concept art it seemed like they were going to make her African American but took a U turn at the last minute.

    1. She's a little darker in game than she is in the art (her character select art also looks a little darker) and, honestly, I prefer it that way.

    2. I don't think the Angelina Jolie thing was ever confirmed.

  2. When will they make a real black woman in fighting games? It's not that hard, honestly black women are never well represented in video games.

  3. It would be cool to have a brown skin black girl in KI (Orchid is from Tibet apparently). And hopefully when they say beautiful they don't mean just attractive, there is a small difference in looks between beautiful, cute, and hot/sexy.

  4. I have always thought of Orchid as filling that role, though she did get a lot more light-skinned in KI2. Also, there is no proof of Orchid's or Jago's true origin. Jago wasn't born in Tibet, he was found as a baby on the doorstep of a Tibetan temple and trained as a monk. That does not necessarily make him, or Orchid, Tibetan or even Asian for that matter.

  5. Vanessa's definitely black, it's just that Sega for whatever reason wanted to whitewash her for VF5.

  6. I agree, there should be more sisters in games. Capcom really dropped the ball and should have made C. Viper Black. She's a tough single mother trying to make it in the world and that would be a good role model for people.

  7. Dang Sega am2 went from Grace in Fighting Vipers to Vanessa in VF5.

  8. If they want to have a Woman of African descent the country shouldn't matter. However should she take the mystic route, the brawler route, or the very rare for Beautiful Black Queens, the Fantasy Route which is what I like.

    in all Honesty, Maya fits this description, she is Latina which is apart of the African diaspora, she has American Indian and European ancestry which to most people in my country doesn't count so it just makes her Black. She has magical daggers and they "Come Alive." I think Maya fills this role even if she has light skin.

  9. Neato. Cool and awesome too. I'm now definitely and totally all for an ALL-NEW black female character in fighting games.

  10. Something along the lines of Vanessa from VF4 would be to my liking but with actual natural hair, enough of the played out long white hair none sense. I wouldn't mind an urban break dancer though I know elena exists and whatever but there's a lot you can do with a dance character than the usual capoeira style. To be frank just with an "african-American" female there's lot's of different variables you can take with her design.

    1. I wouldn't want another Vanessa/Christie only cause it's been done a lot before. Something more darker skin because it would be a different change.

  11. I agree i am tired of the Halle Berry real light skinned female characters we need something else man a change i agree.

  12. I'm thinking along the lines of someone like Sheva Alomar from Resident Evil 5 if we gonna be specific here, but in a more dark caramel skin tone of sorts.

    1. Bro...your light like me shut up. your skin color isnt much different from the characters in thie games above. and then in the next picture your wearing colored contacts.

  13. I know there's a lot of people who would be excited to see more Black female characters in their fighting games

  14. Upsideyahead14/02/2015, 03:01

    There was a fighting game for the Amiga which had a voodoo priest as a character... he was rather cool I must say, and a female version of him would be very badass nowadays.

    1. I Def think voodoo would work for a younger sexier woman.

  15. The only true African-American female we have in fighting games is Grace. So why not go for a pure African-American female character, since there's not many of them in the first place?

    1. yeah but to be honest her facial features are not black.

  16. As a black woman myself... I need this in my life. Someone make it happen!

  17. I'm highly in favor of the next black female in a fighting being a dance character, there's a lot more potential with the fighting style I believe we haven't seen yet. In appearance I rather she be full human, dark skinned and some form of a natural going on, a fro, puffs, partial braids creating a faux hawk something to that degree none of that straight white/silver hair crap these designers seem to think is the only proper way to jazz up a black female character with.

    1. so now we come to if every body is dark then your being racist to us light brown people and lighter. mix people have just as much a reason to be in games as dark brown people. im glad master raven from tekken 7 has mixed facial features. and is brown and to be honest you cant really make darker characters in 3d games. you can in 2d games though.

  18. Personally I like the idea of a freedom fighter, I know not too many Stryker fans out there but I loved the fact that he used multiple weapons. This could be the same here but with more urban weapons like a led pipe, bricks, rocks etc. Actually sounds like in describing Cody, what can I say I love beat em ups lol. She would definitely be rush down given I know those more than other archetypes.

    1. why does it have to be led pipes , bricks , and rocks, thats some racist shi* right there to be honest.

  19. If there was a African American female in Street Fighter, I'd be happy to have her aboard. Perhaps she can use the ability to control gravity.

  20. An African American female to me would fit the role of some kind of Goddess if you ask me.

  21. i remember the vanessa controversy...
    everybody was freaking out and i was like "isn't she a military ? she may just have spent too many months in northern countries."
    cause that's what happen when black people stay further away from the sun. saying otherwise is pure ignorance.




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