A deep dive into the groundbreaking and bestselling video game series
The critically acclaimed first-person shooter franchise Borderlands knows it’s ridiculous. It’s a badge of pride. After all, Borderlands 2 was promoted with the tagline “87 bazillion guns just got bazillionder.” These space-western games encourage you to shoot a lot of enemies and monsters, loot their corpses, and have a few chuckles while chasing down those bazillion guns. As Kaitlin Tremblay explores in Ain’t No Place for a Hero, the Borderlands video game series satirizes its own genre, exposing and addressing the ways first-person shooter video games have tended to exclude women, queer people, and people of colour, as well as contribute to a hostile playing environment.
Tremblay also digs in to the way the Borderlands game franchise — which has sold more than 26 million copies — disrupts traditional notions of heroism, creating nuanced and compelling storytelling that highlights the strengths and possibilities of this relatively new narrative medium. The latest entry in the acclaimed Pop Classics series, Ain’t No Place for a Hero is a fascinating read for Borderlands devotees as well as the uninitiated.
Kaitlin Tremblay is a writer, independent game developer, and narrative producer in video games. She is the co-editor of the speculative fiction anthology Those Who Make Us: Canadian Creature, Myth, and Monster Stories and has written about video games for Playboy, Vice, and the Mary Sue. She is a narrative design mentor in video games and can always be found ranting about video games and storytelling on Twitter at @kait_zilla. Kaitlin lives in Toronto.
“Tremblay spends a hundred and thirty-five pages discussing toxic masculinity and fart jokes with equal seriousness, accomplishing something I never thought possible: it convinced me we actually knew what we were doing.” — Anthony Burch, lead writer for Borderlands 2