Parvati Holcomb, a companion character in Obsidian's recent RPG The Outer Worlds, has found massive success as a fan favorite and as a champion for a marginalized community that sees very little representation in modern media. The game has earned a great deal of praise from RPG fans for its immersive world and its complex, compelling characters, something Obsidian Entertainment has been known for since its founding.
Among these characters, Parvati Holcomb stands out as a clear favorite. Parvati is a mechanic voiced by Ashly Burch (Life is Strange, Horizon Zero Dawn), and the first companion character the player meets in the game. She possesses an endearing mix of shyness and optimistic enthusiasm, and has a great degree of innocence despite the grim and oppressive setting of the game. In addition to her bearing, Parvati has resonated with players due to the fact that she identifies as both asexual (ace) and bisexual, a combination of marginalized identities that is even rarer to see represented in the same character.
In a recent interview with Patrick Klepek on VICE, Parvati's writer Kate Dollarhyde shared insights into the process of creating this fan favorite character. She inherited the character from writer Chris L'Etoile, who started design on Parvati before leaving the project. While Parvati had already been identified as ace before she was given to Dollarhyde, it was still deeply personal, as Dollarhyde also identifies as ace and bisexual. This allowed her to channel her own experiences and her own voice through the character and provide her with much more nuance. This also inadvertently forced the writer to come out publicly herself.
"In doing these interviews I've had to basically out myself to the internet and all my coworkers, which is a very weird feeling," Dollarhyde says. She remarks that while she has had some trolls, most of the reactions have been positive. Her personal touch shines through in interactions with Parvati, especially in her dedicated questline, a feature that critics have adored in The Outer Worlds. Parvati's quest revolves around preparing her for a date with another mechanic named Junlei Tennyson. During dialogue, Parvati expresses concern about forming a romantic relationship, pointing out that in the past people called her cold and unfeeling due to her identity. Dollarhyde explained that "that's a line taken from my own life."
Parvati's characterization shines through as a defining part of The Outer Worlds, and it's certainly exciting for players who identify with her sexual orientation to see her popularity shine, especially in the midst of a game that's garnered such acclaim already. An especially meaningful aspect of her representation is that when her orientation is brought up, it's not treated as a big twist or anything abnormal. It is simply a part of who she is. What's more, when she mentions her orientation, the player gets a dialogue choice that lets them sympathize with her and identify as asexual as well. While in the context of the game this moment is nothing special for either of the characters involved, it means a great deal for players who have been struggling to find representation in the real world.