Starfield is not "woke," you simply fear the future | GAME3A

Starfield is not "woke," you simply fear the future

Starfield has pronouns. Set hundreds of years in the future, it allows us to explore a universe that reflects progress in our own world, where players...

Claire Jackson Sept 04, 2023
Starfield is not "woke," you simply fear the future

Starfield has pronouns. Set hundreds of years in the future, it allows us to explore a universe that reflects progress in our own world, where players can choose the pronouns they wish to be addressed with by the people in their lives. This choice is respected and is an integral component in character creation during the opening moments of the role-playing game. Shockingly, bigoted individuals are not particularly thrilled about it.

Shortly after the start of the Early Access weekend, a clip went viral featuring a bald British man screaming about how Starfield desperately wants to remind us of the "current day" by using pronouns and body diversity frequently.

By prioritizing this progressive agenda over its ultimate goal of providing a vast world with different planets and characters to explore, Bethesda forgets to make a good game. However, the reality is far less interesting and merely represents a society that is becoming increasingly inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals who do not conform to cisgender norms. Starfield aims to depict a universe where this progress continues, while our own planet has been left behind.

When I play a blockbuster game like this before its release, I can't help but laugh at the inclusion of non-binary identity options or the creation of trans characters because I know the same tired people will make a fuss over something mundane for the rest of us. It's as if a game is labeled as an attempt to win over the left establishment just because it allows us to appear as normal people with our chosen pronouns. In Alan Wake 2, a woman of color plays one of the main roles, so I expect the name to be changed in a series of very clever and completely unpredictable right-wing YouTube videos to "Alan Woke 2."

Starfield doesn't even go so far as to rock the progressive boat. As far as I can tell, most companions in the game align their romantic interests with the player's sexual orientation. However, if you choose the option for a non-binary gender, you are also bound to a specific protagonist voice that cannot be altered, regardless of how you sound or look in reality. This represents a rather generic way gender non-conforming individuals are viewed in our own society. Non-binary people exist and should be respected, but from the perspective of cisgender people, they are also a demographic group that can be categorized like any other.

It also fails to offer other voice options and forces your character to fit into its sole perception of how non-binary individuals sound. This is where criticism should be directed, but I don't believe the angry gamer boys who create an uproar over pronouns have the intelligence to think that far. Instead, their only outlet for anger is the anger itself because the hobbies they love and identify with are afraid to evolve with the times and leave them behind.

Starfield Isn

One wonders whether reactions like these are genuine or simply staged outrage to achieve viral success and attract followers who fortunately reside in the same narrow echo chamber. Since GamerGate, we have seen these crowds evolve in opposition to the direction the industry is moving, whether it's through loud outcry over Horizon Zero Dawn daring to portray realistic beauty standards in Aloy's stubble, or through harassment of smaller indie projects with queer themes and ideas that happen to gain popularity. It doesn't stop, and unfortunately, I doubt it ever will.

Starfield is a better game because it allows non-binary players to feel represented, even if it doesn't always succeed completely. Bethesda doesn't diminish its own potential with a game that wants to be more open and progressive, especially when most major open-world blockbusters in recent years have done the same. Even Call of Duty got Ronald Reagan to respect your pronouns before committing war crimes, and I bet the gamers who complained about it are still playing Warzone every day. It's all just a performance and not worth paying attention to. Everyone has pronouns, even the incessantly present fools online who continue to shout from the rooftops when games allow us to choose them.

Starfield Isn

Starfield is another game in a long line of modern successes that hopes to make video games a more welcoming hobby for everyone. In doing so, it must filter out individuals who are not in agreement with inclusive progress and leave them behind.