Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is coming to PlayStation 5 tomorrow, and it brings with it a pretty meaty update to the original PlayStation 4 and PC game. But alongside new modes and content, the updated version of Kojima Productions’ delivery simulator is also getting a bit of reflection on its description of asexuality, which was criticized when the original game launched in 2019.
In the original game, a codex entry about “an asexual world,” characterized asexuality as an “aversion towards physical contact and intimacy” and that those who identify as ace are “incapable of feeling desire or attraction.” As Michael California noted in an extensive write-up on the subject for Polygon, asexuality is not about a lack of enjoyment found in physical contact or feeling attracted to others in whatever parameters they fall under, it’s in the absence of sexual attraction in the way it’s commonly described in mainstream spaces. California goes on to describe his own attraction to others as being tied to things like “personality, conversation, style, appearance, and attitude.” But Death Stranding’s original description of the identity made it sound like asexual people were just straight up unwilling to engage in sex and intimacy with others.
Two years later, Death Stranding: Director’s Cut has made an amendment to the same codex entry, and it at the very least shows a bit of reflection from everyone involved. CNET Editor Alessandro Fillari posted a screenshot of the updated world-building on Twitter, which now says the entry has been flagged for archival review, as it “advances a controversial thesis widely regarded as unsubstantiated and discriminatory.”
More queerness in games:
- Intimate Space: The State of Queerness in Mass Effect
- Pride Flags in Video Games Aren’t Enough to Show Queer History
- The Last of Us: Part II Illustrates How Queer Spaces Are Not a Monolith
Video games generally have struggled to tackle topics of asexuality, largely because there’s a distinct lack of representation on the matter in mainstream games to begin with. So while Death Stranding is probably not the game that’s going break the ice for a lot of these discussions, it is, at the very least, acknowledging it made a mistake in its framing back in the day.