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Editorial: No, Women Are Not Ruining Your Games

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(@ryan-hartmann)
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This past week, EA and DICE announced the next installment in their critically acclaimed and commercially lucrative Battlefield franchise. Going back to World War II for the first time in several installments, the game also features female soldiers in prominent combat roles. This revelation went about as well as you'd expect, if you’ve been following gaming at all over the past five years, with hordes of angry young men protesting the “politically motivated” attempts at “social justice":

 

How dare this company force (gasp!) women on this obviously male-dominated industry (that is actually female-dominated if you go by the raw numbers). How dare they ignore their user-base (by choosing to be more representative and inclusive of their user-base). How dare they ignore “historical accuracy” by depicting women fighting in a war they never fought in (that they actually fought in).  It’s a real "clusterwhoops", alright. Let’s see if we can’t break this down and get to the root of the problem.

Let’s dispense with that last argument first: Women most definitely did fight in World War II. Yes, even on the front lines. Yes, in large numbers, up to 100,000 in some countries. Women played a central role in all aspects of the war effort, even if they weren’t typically part of America’s or Britain’s fighting forces (though several did serve on the front lines in the Air Force, and more than 350,000 women served in the US armed forces during the conflict both at home and abroad). Sometimes it’s easy to forget that this was called World War II for a reason; by the end of the war, almost every nation in the world had joined the fray to some capacity. Many of these nations employed women in combat roles, several of whom were highly decorated. The former nation of Yugoslavia (now Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo) had military forces exceeding half a million, and women made up over 100,000 of their fighters. Russia, which played a central role in the eventual defeat of the Axis powers, deployed women in both their infantry and their air forces while much of the French Resistance was made up of, and led by, women.  Those who genuinely care about historical accuracy are generally aware of this, but historical accuracy was never the issue here, any more than “ethics in games journalism” was the real issue behind Gamergate.

But that’s really beside the point, because DICE has never been particularly concerned with historical accuracy (nor should it be), which makes any concerns about historical accuracy either hilariously ignorant or hilariously disingenuous; take your pick. Battlefield games have always played fast and loose with history, even when portraying ostensibly historical events. Liberties are always taken in creative media to portray more dramatic narratives, which is exactly what DICE has always done. In that context, it should only matter whether women in combat roles can aid in creating the sort of dramatic narrative that the game is going for. On that front I think the obvious answer is “yes”.

One of the few things these outspoken "critics" seem neither willing nor able to acknowledge is that the inclusion of women in games can really only benefit everyone, unless your only real objections are based in juvenile misogyny. Women comprise more than 50% of the global population; they, and their stories, are central to the human dynamic and understanding who we are. The more often they are represented in the stories we collectively tell, as an attempt at acquiring that understanding, the better.

Even more important is the realization that games as a medium do not belong to any one group of people. Video games most certainly do not belong to this extremely vocal minority group of young, (mostly) white males who presume to be the gatekeepers of acceptable representation. One of the best things about games is that, no matter who you are in real life, once you're in a game you can become anybody, or anything. Your imagination, and the imagination of developers, is your only limitation. The notion that we should only ever be allowed to be men, or as is more often the case white men, is really just a feeble plea from insecure little boys to handicap the possibilities of gaming in order to assuage their fragile egos. If women in games bother you so much that you place faux-historical accuracy above equal representation, it’s probably time to put down the controller and get some fresh air.

 

 
Posted : 28/05/2018 5:09 am
(@hurin)
Posts: 9
Active Member
 

Game of Thrones is not realistic, but the fans would still get upset if the archers traded in their bows and arrows for machine guns.

It's not OK to add things that weren't there to a game that takes place during WW2 and making it look like Fortnite, and the old fans aren't sexist for pointing it out.

 
Posted : 28/05/2018 11:34 am
(@hurin)
Posts: 9
Active Member
 

The Soviets did use female soldiers, but this game takes place on the western front, and the Brits did most definitely not have female soldiers with prosthetic limbs and blue face paint.

There were female French resistance fighters, and no one would have complained if this was a scene of allied troops fighting along French resistance fighters. But it's not, and here we are.

 
Posted : 28/05/2018 11:39 am
(@hurin)
Posts: 9
Active Member
 

But not on the front lines where the game takes place. The difference is between being unrealistic for the sake of gameplay and hardware limitations, or being unrealistic for no sane reason. It's the latter that has got people up in arms so to speak.

 
Posted : 28/05/2018 12:17 pm
(@Chris Gow)
Posts: 13
Active Member
 

Majority that are up in arms? The people who buy and play the game in question? So there opinion is not relevant because you have decided that I have the same political views as Trump? Fair enough. Clearly the people who want women in unrealistic war scenarios must be Hillary supporters. And the 1% comment was me rounding up. It's actually far less than 1%.

 
Posted : 29/05/2018 1:03 am
(@hurin)
Posts: 9
Active Member
 

So now you wan't to be respectful and civil? That is actually funny seeing how for the past 6 years the gaming press has been demonizing it's own readers as racist sexist woman-hating neckbeard basement dwellers.

 
Posted : 30/05/2018 11:56 am
(@Ryan Hartmann)
Posts: 121
Estimable Member
 

PSXE is not "the gaming press" at large and neither am I. If you have a beef with other sites' editors calling you a neckbeard or a basement dweller, you'll need to take it up with them.

Pointing out sexist comments of the type highlighted by this article is not being disrespectful; it is merely observing and commenting on that behavior, and those types of comments are objectively sexist.

If you disagree with any point of this editorial and want to continue discussing it, that's more than welcome. No one is required to agree with me or any other PSXE staffer, and no one is prohibited from criticizing my work if they don't like it.

However, when debating or discussing topics with other members of the community, in this or any other article on PSXE, you need to maintain a civil tone, as do they. Name calling, personal attacks and insults by *anyone* are off limits. It's that simple, and it's non-negotiable.

Thank you for reading.

 
Posted : 30/05/2018 1:04 pm
(@Rogueagent01)
Posts: 121
Estimable Member
 

So in a way using your logic, you could argue America didn't even participate in the Persian Gulf war. Seeing as we had only 149 KIA vs. at minimum 100,000 Iraqi soldiers. Even when they reviewed the status of the US Vets 10 years later the number only climbed to around 5,000, many of which were suspected gas attacks.

Deaths are not relevant to the status of serving in a theater or the military for that matter.

And the snipers were only one part of the over 800,000 women Russia deployed. So the total number is gonna be much higher than 1,500. And again this is only Russia i've talked about many nations used woman on the front during WWII.

You need to understand i come from a military family, i'm one of the only people in my family that didn't enlist, so yes i am offended when you try to act like a group didn't participate because they suffered a much lower mortality rate. That will offend anyone who has served.

 
Posted : 30/05/2018 6:19 pm
(@Foreseer117)
Posts: 11
Active Member
 

So I think you've heavily misconstrued the argument. First off, yes women served on the front lines, not going to argue that. But you say Battlefield has never been a series about accuracy and that's inherently not true. Yes, it has had some silly things here and there (railguns, tiny pistols, M1 Garand's in modern times) but for the most part it has stayed faithful to the era that it drew from. That changed with Battlefield 1 where they decided to ditch the accuracy of the era in favor of faster gameplay, a decision that I still believe to be a mistake. My main issue with the game is the gonzo Tarantino-esque vibe. Why does a British soldier have a katana? Why is there a person running around with a prosthetic arm on the front line? Why are they using Highland blue warpaint, similar to the Scottish warriors, but they are British? Why aren't they wearing proper uniforms? None of it makes any sort of sense. And before you give me anything about pilot's who had prosthesis, think about that, pilots, not infantry. The most you could lose was a leg, the prosthetic for that worked well enough. But losing an arm is something else entirely. In the 30' and 40's the technology just wasn't there to make the arm fully functional, our tech is barely getting there. She wouldn't be able to hold or fire her gun, nor would she have been able to use the spiked cricket bat (again gonzo and stupid). I wouldn't mind if this game wasn't attached to the Battlefield name or if they didn't put it in real WWII (looking at you Wolfenstien TNO, love that game). This game is jarring for what fans of the series have come to expect.
I hate that you misconstrue GG as well. It definitely was about ethics, John Bain was a leading voice behind that and there was definitively shady practices going on behind the scenes. Former GIO editor Mike Futter broke the silence on the journalist mailing list which showed site collusion, dev care packages to and from publications, and an effort by mainstream site to 'kill' the term 'gamer'. This isn't conspiracy, this is stuff you can find in a google search.
Lastly, I find it sad that you have to generalize the push back to young white males. Everyone I've seen criticize this have been all over the spectrum of race and gender, but if that were the case it would deflate your narrative wouldn't it? Only a very small group of close minded people complain about playing as a woman or man. Yes, there are people who complain about playing as men. But for most player, like 99%, they don't mind playing someone who doesn't look like them. I love Tomb Raider (especially the reboot), Mirror's Edge, and Remember Me. Ellie's chapter in TLoU and her DLC The Left Behind were amazing moments where I genuinely cried. Playing Prey as both male and female Morgan was a blast. This has nothing to do with women or men, it has to do with presentation.
P.S.: Dice also said they are adding body type options to the game, I find this ridiculous in the extreme. So were there obese soldiers in WWII, probably but I'd assume not many. There were boot camps for a reason. Also does playing as a larger character make your hitbox bigger? If not then that will lead to inherent imbalance. There's a reason most video game protagonists and soldiers are fit.

 
Posted : 05/06/2018 8:22 am
(@Foreseer117)
Posts: 11
Active Member
 

So I think you've heavily misconstrued the argument. First off, yes women served on the front lines, not going to argue that. But you say Battlefield has never been a series about accuracy and that's inherently not true. Yes, it has had some silly things here and there (railguns, tiny pistols, M1 Garand's in modern times) but for the most part it has stayed faithful to the era that it drew from. That changed with Battlefield 1 where they decided to ditch the accuracy of the era in favor of faster gameplay, a decision that I still believe to be a mistake. My main issue with the game is the gonzo Tarantino-esque vibe. Why does a British soldier have a katana? Why is there a person running around with a prosthetic arm on the front line? Why are they using Highland blue warpaint, similar to the Scottish warriors, but they are British? Why aren't they wearing proper uniforms? None of it makes any sort of sense. And before you give me anything about pilot's who had prosthesis, think about that, pilots, not infantry. The most you could lose was a leg, the prosthetic for that worked well enough. But losing an arm is something else entirely. In the 30' and 40's the technology just wasn't there to make the arm fully functional, our tech is barely getting there. She wouldn't be able to hold or fire her gun, nor would she have been able to use the spiked cricket bat (again gonzo and stupid). I wouldn't mind if this game wasn't attached to the Battlefield name or if they didn't put it in real WWII (looking at you Wolfenstien TNO, love that game). This game is jarring for what fans of the series have come to expect.
I hate that you misconstrue GG as well. It definitely was about ethics, John Bain was a leading voice behind that and there was definitively shady practices going on behind the scenes. Former GIO editor Mike Futter broke the silence on the journalist mailing list which showed site collusion, dev care packages to and from publications, and an effort by mainstream site to 'kill' the term 'gamer'. This isn't conspiracy, this is stuff you can find in a google search.
Lastly, I find it sad that you have to generalize the push back to young white males. Everyone I've seen criticize this have been all over the spectrum of race and gender, but if that were the case it would deflate your narrative wouldn't it? Only a very small group of close minded people complain about playing as a woman or man. Yes, there are people who complain about playing as men. But for most player, like 99%, they don't mind playing someone who doesn't look like them. I love Tomb Raider (especially the reboot), Mirror's Edge, and Remember Me. Ellie's chapter in TLoU and her DLC The Left Behind were amazing moments where I genuinely cried. Playing Prey as both male and female Morgan was a blast. This has nothing to do with women or men, it has to do with presentation.
P.S.: Dice also said they are adding body type options to the game, I find this ridiculous in the extreme. So were there obese soldiers in WWII, probably but I'd assume not many. There were boot camps for a reason. Also does playing as a larger character make your hitbox bigger? If not then that will lead to inherent imbalance. There's a reason most video game protagonists and soldiers are fit.

 
Posted : 05/06/2018 8:22 am
(@Foreseer117)
Posts: 11
Active Member
 

So I think you've heavily misconstrued the argument. First off, yes women served on the front lines, not going to argue that. But you say Battlefield has never been a series about accuracy and that's inherently not true. Yes, it has had some silly things here and there (railguns, tiny pistols, M1 Garand's in modern times) but for the most part it has stayed faithful to the era that it drew from. That changed with Battlefield 1 where they decided to ditch the accuracy of the era in favor of faster gameplay, a decision that I still believe to be a mistake. My main issue with the game is the gonzo Tarantino-esque vibe. Why does a British soldier have a katana? Why is there a person running around with a prosthetic arm on the front line? Why are they using Highland blue warpaint, similar to the Scottish warriors, but they are British? Why aren't they wearing proper uniforms? None of it makes any sort of sense. And before you give me anything about pilot's who had prosthesis, think about that, pilots, not infantry. The most you could lose was a leg, the prosthetic for that worked well enough. But losing an arm is something else entirely. In the 30' and 40's the technology just wasn't there to make the arm fully functional, our tech is barely getting there. She wouldn't be able to hold or fire her gun, nor would she have been able to use the spiked cricket bat (again gonzo and stupid). I wouldn't mind if this game wasn't attached to the Battlefield name or if they didn't put it in real WWII (looking at you Wolfenstien TNO, love that game). This game is jarring for what fans of the series have come to expect.
I hate that you misconstrue GG as well. It definitely was about ethics, John Bain was a leading voice behind that and there was definitively shady practices going on behind the scenes. Former GIO editor Mike Futter broke the silence on the journalist mailing list which showed site collusion, dev care packages to and from publications, and an effort by mainstream site to 'kill' the term 'gamer'. This isn't conspiracy, this is stuff you can find in a google search.
Lastly, I find it sad that you have to generalize the push back to young white males. Everyone I've seen criticize this have been all over the spectrum of race and gender, but if that were the case it would deflate your narrative wouldn't it? Only a very small group of close minded people complain about playing as a woman or man. Yes, there are people who complain about playing as men. But for most player, like 99%, they don't mind playing someone who doesn't look like them. I love Tomb Raider (especially the reboot), Mirror's Edge, and Remember Me. Ellie's chapter in TLoU and her DLC The Left Behind were amazing moments where I genuinely cried. Playing Prey as both male and female Morgan was a blast. This has nothing to do with women or men, it has to do with presentation.
P.S.: Dice also said they are adding body type options to the game, I find this ridiculous in the extreme. So were there obese soldiers in WWII, probably but I'd assume not many. There were boot camps for a reason. Also does playing as a larger character make your hitbox bigger? If not then that will lead to inherent imbalance. There's a reason most video game protagonists and soldiers are fit.

 
Posted : 05/06/2018 8:22 am
(@Foreseer117)
Posts: 11
Active Member
 

So I think you've heavily misconstrued the argument. First off, yes women served on the front lines, not going to argue that. But you say Battlefield has never been a series about accuracy and that's inherently not true. Yes, it has had some silly things here and there (railguns, tiny pistols, M1 Garand's in modern times) but for the most part it has stayed faithful to the era that it drew from. That changed with Battlefield 1 where they decided to ditch the accuracy of the era in favor of faster gameplay, a decision that I still believe to be a mistake. My main issue with the game is the gonzo Tarantino-esque vibe. Why does a British soldier have a katana? Why is there a person running around with a prosthetic arm on the front line? Why are they using Highland blue warpaint, similar to the Scottish warriors, but they are British? Why aren't they wearing proper uniforms? None of it makes any sort of sense. And before you give me anything about pilot's who had prosthesis, think about that, pilots, not infantry. The most you could lose was a leg, the prosthetic for that worked well enough. But losing an arm is something else entirely. In the 30' and 40's the technology just wasn't there to make the arm fully functional, our tech is barely getting there. She wouldn't be able to hold or fire her gun, nor would she have been able to use the spiked cricket bat (again gonzo and stupid). I wouldn't mind if this game wasn't attached to the Battlefield name or if they didn't put it in real WWII (looking at you Wolfenstien TNO, love that game). This game is jarring for what fans of the series have come to expect.
I hate that you misconstrue GG as well. It definitely was about ethics, John Bain was a leading voice behind that and there was definitively shady practices going on behind the scenes. Former GIO editor Mike Futter broke the silence on the journalist mailing list which showed site collusion, dev care packages to and from publications, and an effort by mainstream site to 'kill' the term 'gamer'. This isn't conspiracy, this is stuff you can find in a google search.
Lastly, I find it sad that you have to generalize the push back to young white males. Everyone I've seen criticize this have been all over the spectrum of race and gender, but if that were the case it would deflate your narrative wouldn't it? Only a very small group of close minded people complain about playing as a woman or man. Yes, there are people who complain about playing as men. But for most player, like 99%, they don't mind playing someone who doesn't look like them. I love Tomb Raider (especially the reboot), Mirror's Edge, and Remember Me. Ellie's chapter in TLoU and her DLC The Left Behind were amazing moments where I genuinely cried. Playing Prey as both male and female Morgan was a blast. This has nothing to do with women or men, it has to do with presentation.
P.S.: Dice also said they are adding body type options to the game, I find this ridiculous in the extreme. So were there obese soldiers in WWII, probably but I'd assume not many. There were boot camps for a reason. Also does playing as a larger character make your hitbox bigger? If not then that will lead to inherent imbalance. There's a reason most video game protagonists and soldiers are fit.

 
Posted : 05/06/2018 8:22 am
(@Foreseer117)
Posts: 11
Active Member
 

I see, I tried to space it out better but I guess essays aren't Diqus' favorite. And that's good to know, it's my first comment here and I felt like some things were needing clarification, at least how I see the other side of this discussion. Again, thank you.

 
Posted : 05/06/2018 8:54 am
(@Ryan Hartmann)
Posts: 121
Estimable Member
 

Hi Foreseer,

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to respond before now. E3 week is crazy busy and I just didn't have the time to check this article again for new comments. Hopefully you have email notifications turned on and you see this reply 🙂

To your point about my claim that Battlefield is not a series concerned with historical accuracy - you start off by admitting that there are several instances in which the developer willingly departs from historical accuracy. If you can tolerate those inconsistencies, why not a perceived inconsistency about gender? That DICE sometimes adheres to history doesn't mean they're obligated to do so all the time, and we both agree that they often don't, so I don't see how this is the line in the sand.

As for my claim about white men being the primary movers behind this - in the larger picture, yes this is indisputably a movement of young, white men. While there are some people of different races who will have similar opinions, the push against diversity in gaming is inherently a product of angry white men who do not understand that other people having equal rights does not in any way diminish their own.

The outcry over women in Battlefield V does not exist in a vacuum. It's part of the larger argument that has consumed the industry for the last four years, ever since Gamergate became a term. I've been a part of this community as a player and a critic for 20 years, I've participated in the larger related communities for most of that time, and in my experience it is overwhelmingly white males who take issue with things like this, and for obvious reasons.

There is a problem of representation in games, and it does need to be addressed sooner rather than later. I'm all for developers like DICE doing so in games that do not require strict adherence to historical events, especially when the liberties taken are only to represent the essence of the event instead of the details, which I think is a good description of most BF games.

Again, I'm sorry for the late reply. Thank you for reading and commenting, I truly appreciate all feedback, even (perhaps even especially) feedback that disagrees with me. Like everyone, my views deserve to be challenged and I enjoy the opportunity to discuss and defend and/or re-evaluate them 🙂

Ryan Hartmann
Reviews Editor

 
Posted : 16/06/2018 11:57 pm
(@Chris Gow)
Posts: 13
Active Member
 

So a world war 2 game with women on the front lines? Maybe some black female Nazi officers? How about we give them a Tec-9 and maybe some Uzi's. Since it doesn't have to resemble WW2 or be accurate. Maybe in WW1 we could have unicorns?

 
Posted : 18/08/2018 5:16 am
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