And Murder on Eridanos drives that point home.
The Outer Worlds’ Murder on Eridanos is out now, and Stevivor used a recent chat with developer Obsidian to discuss its notions of inclusivity and diversity.
Right at the beginning of Murder on Eridanos, we noticed that one NPC — Bellhop Norville, shown above — has a condition called vitiligo.
His condition — in which his skin has lost its pigment cells in some areas and results in discoloured patches on his face — is never mentioned by himself, your player character or any companion NPCs. As someone playing the game, I could imagine someone with vitiligo would be absolutely empowered by his placement within it; as a homosexual, it’s always a fantastic feeling to see representation in the games you play. If it’s positive representation, all the better.
The fact is that Norville has vitiligo and that’s that; there are more important matters to think about or be hung up upon (a murder mystery, for example). To Tim Cain, The Outer Worlds‘ co-producer, that is expressly the point.
“We had a rule at the very beginning of making The Outer Worlds: this is the future. No one cares about your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, or even what you look like, what they really care about is your class,” Cain told Stevivor. “Are you a doctor? Are you a janitor? Are you a ship captain? Are you a navigator?
“We had a running joke for a while that one of our companions was originally written that her parents had arranged a marriage and she didn’t want to do it. And her parents didn’t understand, because she was a doctor, and this other person was a lawyer — of course you want to marry them. But she was like, ‘I don’t even like this other person. Why would you even do that?’ and they were like, ‘that doesn’t factor into it.'”
Of course, you can’t talk Outer Worlds without focusing on its absolutely captivating asexual lesbian, Parvati.
“When Parvati actually wants to go out on a date with Junlei, there’s no issue there about them both being women,” Cain said, explaining that the roadblock to her own narrative wasn’t her sexuality, but her own headspace.
“The issue was, “well, why don’t you just go ask her? What’s the big hold up? What do I have to do to move this along so you can get back to working on the engines of the ship?” Cain continued. “And we would just stress that over and over again when people did things.
“People would try to occasionally write jokes, but the joke meant someone had to be, there was a discrimination involved somehow, and I’m like, ‘but that joke wouldn’t even exist in this universe.’ And once we had that down, people found all kinds of fun ways of playing around with the snooty people in Byzantium versus just the nose to the grindstone people that were up in the Groundbreaker.”
Simply put, The Outer Worlds has a better handle on inclusivity that the long-running Star Trek franchise has. While Star Trek claimed to be inclusive, the queer community was largely relegated to the space-closet until the likes of Star Trek Discovery, a series launched 51 years after the original outings of Captain Kirk. Nonetheless, the likes of Star Trek has influenced The Outer Worlds in some ways.
“RPGs are for everybody,” Nitai Poddar, Murder on Eridanos’ Lead Narrative Designer, told Stevivor. “The concept of an RPG, 20 years ago, was a very niche game, and now you cannot swing a stick at a AAA game [now] without finding RPG mechanics everywhere.
“In order to show that a game is for everybody, you just try to include everybody in it. It really is that simple; you just do it without drawing too much attention to it. There is a tradition in science fiction, and I think, Star Trek, even speaks to this tradition, of envisioning a world where many of the prejudices that exist today, or have existed in the last hundred years, disappear by attrition.
“Their absence is conspicuous, because we know they exist in our world, but not really commented on in that world. And it’s a nice way to envision the future, I think, it is a tradition in science fiction, and in some ways we’re just following that tradition.”