Today I had a bit of free time and finally got around to checking out Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. This won’t be a review on the game as I haven’t at all gotten very far in it, but rather, I have been haunted bit its opening cinematic. As people who are familiar with gaming, video games and the gaming industry, there are a lot of things that need to be worked on, such as sexism and a big problem with a lack of diversity (characters of color, queer characters, disabled characters and how they are portrayed\used, as well as religion and religious people, and keep in mind that these are all things the entertainment industry has issues with as well.)
When you start the game, a cinematic begins, and I had no idea, when I first clicked on Beyond Earth, what I was going to be shown.
So, before anything, please make sure to go watch the cinematic, right over here:
To those unfamiliar with Civilization, Civilization is a strategy game that has been around and going for years. The point of the game is that you, as the leader of a civilization, must make decisions to advance your society in multitude of ways, all of which you can choose to choose, or not to. Whether to choose to advance through science, culture, your military presence and such, or art, it is all up to you and you may win, or you may lose, as other civilizations advance as you do. And so, I was deeply surprised at the amount of story and the choices, to give you the characters they give you in the cinematic, consider how very little characters have to do with the game that is Civilization and Civilization: Beyond Earth.
The cinematic starts as a military type 4×4 goes down a road towards what seems to be a military base. In it, sits a dark skinned man, who reaches his arm towards and around who I assume to be his daughter, a dark skinned young girl, with a bright scarf covering her hair. Both look subtly at each other and then away, no words are shared.
The voice that narrates, I also assume belongs to the little girl, explains that they have been chosen.
The father holds his daughter’s hand as he walks towards and into a crowd, to have both his and his daughter’s wrist scanned.
He appears to be turned down, while she is accepted. The voice continues to narrate as you watch a young girl lead away from her father towards a spaceship, which she embarks. The expression on her face is peculiar, she seems unsurprised, like she’s been waiting or expecting this for a long time. The look she seems to give to give to her father resembles acceptance.
The voice explains that people have been chosen to represent cultures, as they are sent away and to other worlds. Far away from the military camp, the father rushes to the top of a hill to look at the dozens of ships that are heading towards the sky, his daughter carried into one of them.
The voice explains that the journey was long, and quiet, and the story jumps to an older girl, with the same bright scarf on her hair, making it clear that she, and others, have been traveling through the stars for years.
They step towards a large window and gaze upon what seems to be a new planet, a new world. As it ends, we gaze right upon the girl’s face, her skin detailed, the bright red of her veil, her eyes glittering as she looks on. The cinematic ends with the title of the game:
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth.
Now, if you haven’t been paying attention and still don’t know why this cinematic and the choices made here are a big deal, let me explain. Video games already have a hard time feature female protagonist, even less characters of color or *gasp* women of color, but when is the last (or only time) you’ve seen a video game or a video game’s cinematic featuring a dark skinned Muslim girl with a veil on her hair? Or a positive portrayal of a dark skinned Muslim father\daughter relationship, I don’t know about you, but that was my first time, and it blew my mind.
The video game industry usually doesn’t bother, the go to choice for a hero is a white cis male hetero protagonist, and his fellow other white cis male hetero friends and companions. We’ve been getting more female protagonist and characters of a better calibre the past few years, but something in that cinematic made me feel intense respect and thanks to the people behind that beautiful little story, for a game that didn’t necessarily need any story or anybody at all.
Make sure to go check out that cinematic and, if strategy games are your things, or could be, go give if your money and buy this game right away!
#civilizationbeyondearth #intersectionalfeminism #muslim #muslimwoman #femalevideogamecharacter #representation.