A sexism-free Destiny

Dear Dad,

I’ve written before about sexism in video games, and there’s been a lot of attention to gaming’s toxic attitude toward women by awesome feminists like Anita Sarkeesian. You know I’m very passionate about how media portrays women and impacts our opinion toward women, and a lot of that shows in critique of TV, movies, games, music, etc. Today, though, I wanted to give a little shout-out to a game that didn’t make me feel othered, not one bit.

I’ve been playing a lot of Destiny. If you’re not familiar, it’s a first-person shooter MMO by the creators of Halo (it was billed as Halo’s successor). The game is pretty fun. Gameplay is awesome, the weapons are cool, the worlds are beautiful, and over all it’s a pretty solid game. It’s taken some harsh criticism for not living up to all the hype prior to its release, and understandably so. It sort of just ends after level 20, and then you have to play a bunch of repetitive missions to make any progress. But I’m not too bothered by this because again, the weapons are super fun to shoot.

Now, as I was mainlining this game immediately after its release, it occurred to me that never, not once, did I feel alienated by it (which is humorous because you visit different planets, lol). What do I mean? I mean that I never saw a female character portrayed as a sex object. There are no women in the game as decoration or to titillate. There are plenty of female NPCs, but they are about as sexualized as the males, which is not at all. The shipwright’s character, for instance, really appealed to me because she’s obviously a woman, but also the expert on building ships to take you across the galaxy. It’s a woman in engineering!

A screenshot of the shipwright in Destiny. The computer-animated white woman has blond hair, a leather jacket and a red sash over her shoulders. The screen also shows options for purchasing vehicles.

Amanda Holliday, the shipwright, has serious skills and some serious attitude, too.

And when I first created my character, I elected to play as a woman as well. I selected the Titan class (that’s the warriors) and selected her face shape, hair color, eye color, etc. They even had a pretty solid variety of facial shapes so the women don’t all have to have the tiny-chin-tiny-nose-giant-eye-Disney-princess look. I selected a face with strong cheekbones, and a big strong nose.

My character is also dressed appropriately for battle, in heavy armor to withstand the harshest blows. The armor is fairly similar to the male armor, except that the female characters are a little bit smaller than their male counterparts. Nowhere did I have to show some leg or cleavage. This is the same for Hunters and Warlocks, as well. In the post-Apocalyptic world of Destiny, men and women are realistically covered up to protect against the elements and their enemies, instead of showing skin to arouse the male gamer.

A screenshot of a video game character in futuristic full-body armor.

My character, a Titan, is equipped with a helmet, chest guard, leg protection and gauntlets. She wears a sash around her waist to show off achievements. She is not sexualized.

I bring all this up, Dad, because I want to show how easy it is to make a fun, edgy game without objectifying women. And this game is edgy. You live in the last human city, alien creatures are around every corner trying to destroy you, and you visit all these eerily barren planets that were once human colonies but have since been destroyed. I find it super creepy and I totally love it. Plus, I never feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. This was a game created with me in mind.




2 thoughts on “A sexism-free Destiny

  1. What I also love is the in-story characters are majority female; there is the queen, the mysterious Exo guardian at the end and now Eris in the expansion. Woop!

    The one criticism I have is the loading screen, all the male characters are toting their guns above their shoulder, in an ‘active’ pose, but the female characters let their gun hang at their side, a much more ‘passive’ pose. Stick that gun up Bungie! I sense it wasn’t deliberate!

  2. Pingback: Mansplained at a GameStop | Feminism for my Father

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