I love Destiny. The majority of my gaming time is spent chasing quests, completing bounties and getting wrecked in the Crucible PVP mode. I also found a nice bit of Representation in the game. Destiny’s narrative revolves around an intergalactic entity known as the Traveler who protects the last remaining human city on Earth. The player characters are Guardians who harness the Travelers energy known as Light to defeat their enemies.
The main player faction is known as the Vanguard, the Travelers apostles so to speak. They send players on Strike missions and generally organize the efforts to protect humans and the Traveler. The leaders of the Vanguard are Zavala and Ikora. 2 members of a legendary Fire Team (RIP Cayde-6). These two Guardians run the entire earth defense effort with the help of a number of key Guardians in their home base The Tower.
Why did I tell you all of that? Simple.
Representation: Zavala and Ikora from Destiny are Black
Voiced by Lance Reddick and Gina Torres respectively, both their character models are a couple of black bosses. Not only do they kick all the ass in the universe, but they lead the entire resistance against the Darkness. That’s quite poetic. Both characters are well respected, accomplished and highly capable. Just watch them take control of a dire situation in the opening cinematic of The Red War.
Zavala falls under the nebulous not-black-but-obviously-black category that we have discussed before. But let’s be real, thats a brothah. His facial structure, voice and mannerisms all point to black guy in my book. You could also argue that Ikora is Cuban-American like her voice actress, and I would not disagree. Find your representation wherever you can.
My Titan Gurdian is a black man. It’s always wonderful to see him interacting with Ikora and Zavala, praising him as one of the strongest Guardians around. All that black on screen is refreshing. Even my characters voice (recorded by Bungie) sounds pretty black. It’s an all around win for me.
Lord Shaxx & Lord Saladin are Black as well
The last Iron Lord and the Crucible Director are both black guys. Lord Saladin is more obviously of a Nubian persuasion, voiced by accomplished voice actor Keith Ferguson. Lord Shaxx is a bit more enigmatic since he never removes his helmet. Turns out Lennie James a.k.a. Morgan from The Walking Dead lends his voice talents to everyones favorite PVP dad.
I will make the very short leap that there is some highly accomplished black general under that one-horned helmet. That is, until Bungie sees fit to show us the face behind the mask. Then all bets are off.
Why does this matter for us and Destiny?
Representation is important, especially in video games like Destiny. When you find it, it should be celebrated. Small instances like this can make all the difference to someone. Maybe a little brown girl or boy will want to be Ikora or Zavala for Halloween one day. Who wouldn’t want to be the most powerful and respected magic-user in the universe? There are already a ton of Shaxx and Saladin cosplay making its way around. The Vanguard is a black institution, who knew?
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