The Bechdel test

For those who are unfamiliar with the Bechdel test, it is a method which determines the strength and relevance of female characters as their own individual being within a piece of fictional work.

It asks if a piece, usually a film, presents two (or more) women that talk or interact with each other about something other than a man (as their major point of interaction).

This concept spans back several decades, back to Virginia Woolf’s 1929 essay A Room of One’s Own (a recommended piece of reading for Good Game Girls), who recalled that the literature of her time often showed women in their relation to male characters. Moving forwards to the mid 1980s, the test itself was created by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, which told the story of two women — one of whom would only go and see a film if it met three requirements.

These requirements are as follows:

  1. The film must have a minimum of two women in it.
  2. These women must interact and talk with each other.
  3. They must interact about something other than a man.

While this test seems very basic, in so much as that a fictional work may satisfy these requirements but still contain sexist material, it is a reasonable basis for determining some level of female character quality within a film.

It is also true that not all pieces of fiction that have been traditionally marked as ‘good’ adhere to this test, however, it is worth considering as a very basic means of considering video games.

GG Girls has attached a list of ✩GG-recommended✩ Bechdel test games here.