Representation in Gaming: The Outer Worlds

I’m not ready to stop talking about the Outer Worlds (and I’m not sure when I will be) but this article is very much about how much I enjoy the representation present in the game.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I want to start by absolutely applauding Obsidian for not shying away from including such a wide variety of people of color in this game. From nameless background characters to major players, and even your companions, the development team really took the time to make the statement that space isn’t full of just straight white people. None of these characters are just the “token diversity hires” either, they’re well written with their own backstories, motivations, struggles, and growth (if you get their good ending at least). And to top it off? The Outer Worlds has some of the best LGBT+ representation I’ve seen in a video game to date (and if you know a better example, don’t hesitate to correct me and send those titles my way).

There are three characters I want to highlight in particular, just because of how impactful they were for me on my playthrough.

Udom Bedford

This character was the first that I came across that keyed me into the idea that this game was gayer than I anticipated. There is nothing you can tell me that would convince me that Udom did not at least have feelings for Captain Alex Hawthorne (rip). Who impounds a ship just to force someone to talk to him? Who keeps a photo of their “favorite scruffy freelancer” by their bed? Not to mention the logs that can be read on the Unreliable from him to Alex privately.

Personality-wise, he comes off as the strict Pro-Board type, but playing the game right (or playing both sides), you get to see more of his character and that he’s more lenient and generous than his replacement could ever be. I was so upset when I found out he was dead in my first playthrough.

Pavarti Holcomb

I absolutely adore Pavarti’s character. Mainly because she’s the Halycon version of me. Nervous, awkward, eager to help out, incredibly friendly, considerate, etc. I love her, and no I don’t feel bad going on about it.

But I can honestly say I think Pavarti is the first openly biromantic asexual I’ve seen in a game. And that’s HUGE. She even talks about how difficult it has been for her to navigate relationships that way, and even though I don’t personally identify the same way, I know that those who do must have felt so seen for the first time.

Her companion quest is essentially helping her get a date with the Captain of the GroundBreaker, Junlei Tennyson and it truly feels so incredibly well done. Not even from a Quest Design perspective, just from how accurate this felt to how nervous a person could be before a first date, mixed in with all the jokes about how women date in particular. (Yes, I mean the poem writing. Who else writes grand poems to their lovers?)

Nyoka

My last favorite is Nyoka for so many reasons. But my main reason? She’s written so so so well. You can absolutely tell that a person of color was behind her character design. Her backstory is so compelling, her companion quest is fun and great for gaining XP, and she’s probably the strongest companion you can have. My only complaint is that you don’t get to recruit her until almost halfway into the game. She’s talkative to the other companions, so you end up hearing the most out of them all while on missions.

Again, these are just three of the main characters of color present in the game. There’s many, many more and I hope that game designer, in general, continue this trend. Representation is so important and there’s no good excuse to not include it.

So once again, I say, Spacer’s Choice: its not the best Choice, it’s spacer’s choice.

A UX designer doing her best to sashay into game design