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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

Borderlands 3: It's Representastic!

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

Borderlands 3 had some very big shoes to fill.  Quietly providing excellent examples of character representation in the second game, I was eager to see what kind of world Gearbox would build for us to explore this time.  I was not disappointed.  Straight away, the character selection is now more diverse than it’s ever been.  Two of them identify as female, one as agender and one male.  Amara, the Siren, is played by a South Asian voice actor.

The main roster of characters for this game is mostly female.   Commanded by Lilith, the OG vault hunter, she is joined by Ellie, Tannis and Moxxxi from previous games.  The only major friendly male players would be Claptrap and Marcus, and the story doesn’t really call for much interaction with them.  Even with the villains the Calypso twins Troy was definitely playing second fiddle to Tyreen.  For Borderlands the future WAS female and I love it.


Ellie is still as adorably chonky and owning it, every bit the sexual creature she was in 2.  This is still such a rare thing in the industry and it lightens my heart to see as a fellow chonk.  She is at all times shown to be intelligent, loyal to her friends and utterly indomitable.  Her size is never used to devalue her, instead it is presented as what it is.  A fact, but not a defining characteristic.

The bit of representation that really made me tear up however comes when you accept one last Clapslist mission from the bot himself.  You are asked to go to Pandora and take someone out dancing.  As Claptrap forgot the password the request was seven years old but nonetheless, the intrepid Vault Hunter made their way to the location.  The two find the requester in a wheelchair, upset by the fact they didn’t come when she could still walk because now she can’t dance.  Claptrap scoffs and offers to teach her to dance on wheels.  The sheer joy in that moment is tangible, the voice actor doing an amazing job at expressing her gratitude.  I cried.  A lot.  

Disability is still something we’re not representing properly, not yet.  Seeing this wholesome representation of someone struggling with being in a wheelchair being given a new lease on life gives me hope that this will change.  Examples are increasing, take Caroline from Wolfenstein.  When BJ Blascowitz meets with her again she is in a wheelchair.  During a lull in the endless killing where Caroline is preparing to fly them out of a Nazi base, he apologises.  “I’m sorry about your legs.”  Caroline smiles, saying “Don’t be.  I learned how to fly.” The music soared as she took off and I UGLY CRIED.

We’re getting there.  Maybe.  Progress is being made in the right direction.  It gives me hope that someday mental health will be represented a little more sensitively by the wider market.  I’m not holding my breath on that one though.  For now, I am grateful for moments like these.  There’s nothing like the feeling of being seen, and I’m glad more people are getting to experience that.  Diversity is a wonderful thing.

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