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Expressing Yourself in 'Destiny'

Keep in mind that even with the free credits that Bungie gave out to players, the ability to express yourself through these new emotes in Destiny costs real money.

Bungie recently released a set of new emotes for Destiny that you can purchase with real money. For better or for worse, the days of ubiquitous micro-transactions are upon us. With this release, you still have a reason to dance.

Someone's excited for some raid gear.

In the above video, you see a guardian demonstrating one of these newest emotes. This is what Bungie calls an “Enthusiastic Dance,” but what we all actually know is the Carlton. It’s a ludicrous dance, made more so by the fact that it’s inspired by a show that was canceled nearly 20 years ago. I have serious doubts that even half of Destiny's players remember watching Alfonso Ribeiro bust a move on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Even so, I’ve seen plenty of random people in Destiny’s social hub flailing about like the '90s nerd. Keep in mind that even with the free credits that Bungie gave out to players, the ability to use this particular emote costs real money.

It’s not just the Carlton either. Bungie released all sorts of emotes, including very bizarre maneuvers that look more like the flailing of a mad-man than a dance.

"Please give me an exotic!"

It is really easy to dismiss these in-game gestures as funny distractions, but that would ignore the evocative power of self-expression that these emotes provide. Ask yourself: how do you express feelings in a multiplayer game?

Like me, you occasionally yell at the screen. Personally, I swear like a drunk pirate when I play games. I curse at the screen and throw occasional insults at the game, its developers (nothing personal), and myself. If I’m playing with friends and we have chat on? Well, I basically do the same thing, but more articulately. The ability to express myself within game worlds is still very limited.

How might I convey a sense of silliness in Call of Duty? How might I convey regret, urgency, or impatience in a game? Social games demand some form of self-expression, and if the developers do not create a way, well then, players will just make some for themselves. Thus, the infamous “tea-bag” was born. That particular taunt was, without a doubt, inevitable.

Say what you will about tea-bagging as a form of self-expression, the important thing to remember is that players made an in-game maneuver their own. We see this same ownership in Destiny emotes as well. I, for one, like to use the new grieve emote, each and every time that the Cryptarch gives me garbage loot instead of a high-level piece of gear. As you can imagine, I grieve a lot. Others, as showcased in the video below, use the emotes to more malevolent ends.

All players are improvisational actors. Built-in forms of self-expression, like Destiny’s emotes, are just other tools to add to our repertoire. In many ways, they are extensions of the desire to customize the look of our avatars. Whether we ache over shaders, post our character in front of majestic landscapes, or blow a kiss to a towering enemy, we find new ways to play. I only have two emotes, and likely won’t buy more anytime soon. Not because I am against micro-transactions but because I still have so many ways to express myself already.

To Bungie, and everyone making Destiny their own, I commend you:

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