Towards the end of the last console generation, Borderlands 2 has easily been my most avidly played game, and I spent a fair amount of time on the first Borderlands game too. Both games were made by Gearbox Software.
During my attempt at getting all of the in-game trophies, I was intrigued by one of the trophies entitled “Tribute to A Vault Hunter” which had the description “Get an item from Michael Mamaril.” Michael Mamaril was not one of the main playable characters in either of the games, in fact, I’d never heard of any character with that name, so I ventured onto the internet in order to find out how to get the trophy. It turns out that
Michael John Mamaril was a real person who was an avid gamer that loved playing Borderlands but sadly passed away due to cancer at the tender age of 22. One of his friends emailed the guys at Gearbox Software saying that he thought it would be nice if they could do a short eulogy to be read by the Borderalands smart-mouthed robot mascot Claptrap. Not only did Gearbox comply with the request, they promised they would do one better by keeping Michael alive in the one place he loved to go when the pain was too hard, by including him in the (then) upcoming Borderlands 2 as an NPC.
I thought that was pretty touching, and then I discovered that this wasn’t the first time that the guys at Gearbox Software had gone well beyond what most companies would do with fan requests. Case in point, they were asked by a superfan called Ben to help him propose to his Borderlands-superfan girlfriend Tora, and the resulting video (which took Gearbox a week to make) is outstanding:
Oh and in case you were wondering what her response to that proposal was, then watch the following video:
Something else I liked with Borderlands 2 was Gearbox’s approach to LGBT characters . During the games there’s various characters that serve no purpose other than giving you random quests, but occasionally through dialogue you’ll find out that said guy has a boyfriend/husband, or said women has a wife/girlfriend.
Usually when I come across homosexuality in a game, it’s either mocking it, making it a focus point, or part of the story. While I’m not saying this is the first game to do this, I don’t think I’ve played many games where they just have people with different sexual orientations populating the game world, and I think that approach is pretty cool.
While I’m on the subject of common issues, it was refreshing to see a game which used infinitely more realistic proportions than most games for it’s staring female characters like Lilith and Maya
And As Borderlands 2 seems like a game that doesn’t want to exclude anyone from enjoying it, the designer in me loved it when they announced that there was going to be a colourblind mode patched into the game to help out colourblind gamers. One of the developers even wrote up a big long blog post about it, and it’s well worth a read, especially if you’re a designer like me, because designing with colour is important, and something that’s often overlooked!
So thanks Gearbox, thanks for not only making games that are fun to play, but also games that show you care about your fans and the community too.