Developer Exec Has a Message for Battlefield V Complainers: “Female Playable Characters Are Here to Stay”
When the trailer and box art for the game Battlefield V dropped just days ago, it set off backlash that simultaneously shouldn’t exist and was entirely predictable. The trailer and box art’s prominent featuring of women—along with people of color and a character with a prosthetic arm in the gameplay footage—annoyed people who view the simple existence of more than 50% of the population as a political message.
Now, an executive at EA DICE, the game’s developer, has his own message for them: “Player choice and female playable characters are here to stay.” General Manager Oskar Gabrielson tweeted that simple statement out today as part of a short thread of his thoughts on the reactions he’d seen, although it’s not likely to make much of a difference to those doing the complaining. Even in the response to his tweets, you can see Twitter users arguing that, even though women did fight in World War II, more men fought, so putting a woman on the box (pictured above) is … somehow bad. (Let me tell you, these kids have a thing or two to learn about real bad box art.)
If you’re not really clear on how that logic works, I don’t blame you. It’s hard to see what’s “political” about the simple existence of women in a historical fiction game, since women play video games and might want to more closely approximate putting themselves into the scenario they’re playing when they have the chance at character customization, which has absolutely no discernible negative effects. Players who don’t want to do that don’t have to. Still, the tired angle of “shoving politics down people’s throats” has been trotted out again in an attempt to obfuscate the sexism at work in this whole situation.
Even a prominent game developer/internet man (who I won’t name here, and there’s probably more than one) jumped on the bandwagon, insisting that the negative reaction wasn’t out of hate for women but out of a distaste for politics. But that’s just the thing: If adding women, or any other group, to a game reinforces politics or a specific worldview, then so does not including them. The argument isn’t about whether the game reinforces anyone’s politics, but whose politics it reinforces, and those objecting are upset about the politics—the idea—of inclusion. Being upset about the idea of the inclusion of women is sexist, whether you want to quibble over the semantics of the word “hate” or not.
Many things about the game will necessarily be historically inaccurate. None of the characters that players create will have actually been on the battlefield in World War II, and yet no one is complaining that EA DICE failed to create specific 3D models from photographs of actual soldiers and only allow them to participate in the actual battles they were in, with events unfolding on rails, exactly as they did in real life. Any game like this will always have to draw a line somewhere as far as what is acceptably historical and what isn’t, especially when it comes to character creation. It’s the location where the detractors have decided to draw their line that’s particularly telling.
(image: EA DICE)
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