At the start of 2022, Guerrilla Games released Horizon Forbidden West, a fantastic romp through a world brought to its knees by a man-made catastrophe. The result is several tribes of humans who have seemingly lost centuries of technology and worldly knowledge. On one hand, tribes are fighting each other over different ideologies, something that Aloy and her friends are trying to fix while searching for a solution to their own problem. On the other hand is a human civilization that has learned to live with race, gender identity, sexuality, and various disabilities in a tolerant society full of respect that we can only dream about right now.
As some of many examples, we meet a tribesman going through the early stages of dementia and there are at least two on the autistic spectrum. All skin colors and former nationalities mix together. There are numerous homosexual partnerships, both male and female, as well as a male Tenakth warrior who prefers to wear armor intended for a female warrior.
While humanity lacks worldly knowledge and this may mean most folks don’t understand exactly why these differences exist, it doesn’t matter. Everybody has a chance to hold positions of power and command respect. All people are seamlessly integrated into society as they should be when tolerance and acceptance are key societal values.
Physical disabilities get a bit of a rougher ride. A warrior is struck blind after a battle goes wrong and faces death if he returns to his tribe. He is taken in by a rival tribe where he thrives. Many other warriors have scars and remnants of serious injuries, including extensive burns that had plenty of time to heal.
Most prominent is Aloy’s friend Kotallo whose role in society changed after he lost part of his arm in battle, but his new role is no less important. The vital message that Guerrilla Games makes is that regardless of what happens, people will be fully integrated back into society to continue to reach their potential.
Despite the seemingly primitive nature of the Forbidden Lands, their society almost seems further ahead than we are. In a week where the soccer World Cup is casting a discerning spotlight on human rights and a nightclub shooting devastates the LGBTQ+ community once again, it’s worth wondering why we can’t be the same. And I remain thankful to Guerrilla Games for showing us how tolerance, acceptance, and respect can only make the world a better place.