The Diversity In Horizon Zero Dawn
I’m an African American woman and seeing a lead protagonist that fits in any of those categories is rare in the video game space. At this point in my life, I’m 30, it’s one of those things that I have come to accept. Note, not okay with, but accept as the norm for the genre.
The targeted demographic for video games is normally white, straight men between the ages of 15 to 30. So imagine my surprise and joy that as more games have come out recently that conversation has begun to change. That is where Horizon Zero Dawn comes in and I would like to take a second to appreciate the strides with diversity taken in the game.
The Lead Protagonist In Horizon Is A Woman
Aloy, our beautiful red haired wild girl, is the lead protagonist in Horizon. While a lot of games that feature a woman lead tend to focus on her “woman-ness” this game did the exact opposite. It needs to be said more often, but when it comes to diversity people that fit multiple minority groups don’t need it to be explicitly stated in the game or narrative.
Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all.
The fact that Aloy is a woman had literally nothing to do with the story. Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all. I appreciated that the game normalized Aloy being the lead and female without drawing attention to it in the narrative. Kudos Guerrilla for doing this despite Sony’s initial reservations about the choice.
The Population In Horizon Is Diverse
I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white. It is rare that I see games take the time to flesh out the world to include other ethnic groups. I’m not going to sit here and say that these companies are racist or other extreme things. But I will say that it is an over sight that has not gone unnoticed.
I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white.
It may appear like in the years of “PC” culture and people becoming too “sensitive” that we are being inundated with these complaints. I am here to tell you that in the black community we have had these conversations among ourselves and we have them a lot. I am sure that other groups who feel under represented have done the same. So while it may be new to main stream it isn’t new to the rest of us who have to live with this reality every day.
In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint.
To add further to this point, all of the character models look beautiful. In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint. It’s obvious, it’s lazy and it makes me wish they didn’t bother. That wasn’t the case in Horizon where all of the NPCS Asian, Black, White etc each had a very polished and true to life look. I almost shed a tear when I saw the first black person and their hair. MY GOD THEIR HAIR! Hair, which they almost never get correct, looked as glorious as their skin. Thank you Guerrilla.
The Narrative Doesn’t Fall Into Familiar Stereotypes
I mentioned it a bit earlier but it needs to be said again. I appreciate that the story did not focus on Aloy being a woman and the issues that women face. There was no talk of her being weaker than a man or even romance options. As a matter of fact I was a bit sad that Aloy didn’t get to choose someone to romance male or female. But that wasn’t the focus of the story to be told here so those aspects did not get any shine. Her sexuality was not on the table at all to the point where any advances made by other characters felt a bit out of place.
I also appreciate that there were no separations of the tribes by race. There were things that separated each group to be sure but colorism was not one of them. If you follow the narrative [Spoiler] closely you will find that one of the researchers did a thing to make sure that mistake would not be able to be repeated again. Or at least not repeated in the same way come hell or high water.
It’s all the little thing’s that count with this game so while you might be off having Zelda adventures don’t forget to include Horizon too. Have you explored the world of Horizon? Do you have any thoughts about the diversity in the game? Let us know in the comments below.