When it comes to video games, female characters are still an underrepresented group. Further, Black female characters comprise an even smaller list. However, in recent years, Black characters have slowly been making their way from ancillary members of casts into lead roles. While women as a whole are still mostly pushed to the sidelines in terms of taking the lead in gaming, at least there have been a swath of Black women who have finally been able to shine. In honor of Black History Month, it’s time to take a look back at the evolution of some of the greatest Black women starring in video games over the years.

It’s a somewhat distressing fact that one of the first prominent Black female playable characters came in the form of D’arci Stern, from the PlayStation and PC title “Urban Chaos” back in 1999. Though it’s disappointing that it took until the end of the ’90s in gaming to truly introduce audiences to a Black woman who wasn’t sidelined as a love interest or quest giver, “Urban Chaos” took major strides by giving Stern some well-deserved time in the spotlight. In an industry heavily populated by action heroes like Lara Croft at the time, it was refreshing to see a woman of color given such an important role: the lead protagonist of the game as a whole.