Lately, I have noticed that representation of different cultures, orientations, etc have become more prominent in the media. In my opinion there is still much stereotyping going on, however; it’s good to see that wider representation is happening. This brings me to the topic of this post. Recently, I have been playing the video game, The Outer Worlds and I was taken aback by the asexual character that was presented. For those who don’t know, asexuality is an orientation in which an individual lacks sexual attraction to anyone. That’s the definition in its purest form and by no means excludes people who don’t have sexual attraction, yet still have romantic attraction or sleep with their partners. I have been asexual for as long as I can remember, all those natural instincts never clicked. The Outer Worlds portrayed my situation perfectly. First I want to explain a bit about what the game is about and then delve into the character which changed the game for me.
The Outer Worlds is a role playing game set in a colony in another star system. This colony is poorly run by a cooperation and you are tasked with saving the colony before its demise. Not only does this game have an asexual character, it also explores social hierarchy and the power of cooperations. The social commentary present in this game is incredibly in your face and it really allows you to reflect, drawing comparisons. In saying this, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I discovered the level of depth they gave Parvati (the asexual character). The writers never failed to show the anxiety that had arisen due to her sexuality.
During the game, Parvati meets someone she idolises and they start hitting it off. When I went to interact with her, I could feel her anxiety. She confided in me about how she has was never into ‘physical stuff’ and worried that her romantic interest wouldn’t accept her. And to personalise your gameplay and story even more, the writers added an option where you can admit that you weren’t into physical stuff either. Parvati looked completely surprised. For me, it captures the anxiety with meeting potential romantic partners and even the shock of finding someone like you to a tea. When you meet someone you like, anxiety takes hold, some might argue even more so if you’re asexual. Countless times I have worried, ‘what if they only want one thing?’ and it stop you from pursuing relationships. It’s also amazing that they didn’t make her an aromantic (someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction) asexual. I’ve found when people find out someone is asexual there’s a lot of ‘so you don’t want to date anyone’, so it’s good to get a wide variety of asexual representation out there. Every asexual is different.
On quick side note, I also like how she wasn’t labelled as asexual within the game, which I know might sound a little strange. For me, it’s normal, it doesn’t need a label. Yes, a label can help us understand what we experiencing, though I’ve always let it create anxiety about how different I am. Labels help some and don’t help others, it’s a matter of preference.
Thanks for reading everyone! Let me know what you think about representation in the media today. Is it getting better? or is it full of stereotyping?