Here is a strange turn of events. I hate Electronic Arts. Despite growing up with the company being a permanent influence on my childhood I absolutely despise them on account of the crap they’ve been pulling for the past decade or so. I hold them single-handedly responsible for the ruination of one of my favorite sci-fi franchises (Mass Effect), I consider them one of the most prominent builders of the video game industry’s most resilient creative dead-end (But keep working Activision-Blizz, you are catching up!), and the sheer amount of unrestrained greed they exhibit at every release boggles my mind. And yet, for the first time I’m actually considering buying one of their upcoming games on release.
Trailers for Battlefield V have been under bombardment since they appeared on the web, just as the reveal of the game’s box art, that features (dramatic pause) A WOMAN!!! Now anyone who attacks the game for this has already either stopped reading, or has already written their response as to how wrong I am, even though I have literally not even started arguing yet. I know I am inviting trouble by even addressing any of this, but you know what? I started this site in part to share my thoughts on popular subjects. So here it goes.
Above this paragraph you can see the controversial trailer I mentioned earlier. As with all Youtube videos, however, the real entertainment is in the comments (provided you are not too squeamish about human stupidity, and what I really can’t call anything other than insecure sexism). To WWII enthusiasts I’m sure the problem is blatantly apparent: Women during the second World War were not front line fighters, despite what this trailer seems to be depicting. The response to this (as well as to the prosthetic arm) were, to say the least, a disaster. The irony is that besides those points, the trailer is as bog standard as they get. Now I’m sure that there will be tuning, and mechanical improvements, and quality of life improvements from previous games, but for someone like me, who is bored to death of the myriad of military FPS games, nothing at all new or interesting was shown. Just the bloody women.
Now before anyone starts tossing around the SJW accusations, I honesty think that this is good, but my reasons have nothing to do with social justice. Beyond the fact, that I truly believe diversity is a good thing, my reasons for liking this are purely selfish ones. You see, I like women. I pretty much always feel more comfortable in their presence than men, and I find them more intellectually stimulating to interact with as well (Though I’m sure this has much to do with the specific company I find myself in. Yay, Hungary… ). However, video games are foreign to many of the women in my circles. They either don’t care about them, or just don’t know enough about them to form any opinions. Since video games are possibly my most prominent hobby, that means that favorite conversation topic is useless. I want more women to like games. I want them to enjoy the hobby as much as I do. Thus I want them to feel welcome in the world of video games. It honesty blows my mind that there are so many men (or lets be honest, boys) who cling to the opposite.
Inclusiveness is probably the one thing EA consistently does that is good. The first FIFA game to include women’s teams was the first sports game I wanted to play since FIFA 2004. I remember thinking that this might be one of the ways to help elevate women’s football by making it popular among young girls, just as the men’s game is among young boys. Having Battlefront 2’s main character be a female imperial was also a breath of fresh air (that admittedly turned sour after she almost immediately joined the rebels…). Of all the shitty practices that EA indulges in I see no reason to chastise the company for one of the few good things it regularly does.
The “historical accuracy” argument I actually find hilarious though. I am not well versed in the topic, so I don’t know if women occasionally fighting on the front lines was a thing or not (outside the French resistance). But at the same time I can’t help but roll my eyes at the sheer stupidity of bringing up the problem of realism in a Battlefield game. Were all these outraged people attacking EA with torches and pitchforks over the previous game, where half the soldiers on a World War I battlefield ran around with automatic weapons, or every other ludicrous piece of technology that at most only existed as prototypes at the time? We are talking about a franchise, nay, a genre where soldiers run around battlefields discarding half-loaded clips, or clips they fired a few shots out of. Where combatants can move at full speed after taking on multiple bullet shots, and even the slightly annoying red blur that covers their vision disappears after a few bandages are applied. Where death lasts no more than 30 seconds at most. When games are designed, the point is to take aspects of real life and adjust them to fit the comfort level of the players. To make deadly scenarios slightly less deadly. To make frustrating elements less frustrating, or even fun and exhilarating. They already bent the rules of physics and biology to make these games more enjoyable, I see this as no different. If anyone ever made a historically accurate FPS, it would be the most boring, non-enjoyable experience ever. War is not fun.
It’s also worth mentioning that the usual predatory business practices EA use in their big-budget titles are not going to be present here. Or at least that is what they have been saying as of my writing this (trust for EA is in short supply). In essence this is no different from when Marvel Comics made the character of Thor into a woman, or made Captain America black, or Spider-man Hispanic. Huge controversy, but in the end the comics never really changed anything. The same will happen here. People will realize, once they get over the anachronistic fighting females, that this is still just a Battlefield game. Another WWII FPS, that have been made a billion times in the past. And for that reason it will sell like all the rest, and both EA and the butthurt audience will move on like they always have. And maybe, just maybe, a change like this might bring on some new fans to the franchise, who now feel that much more comfortable with the character they get to play as (like myself, for instance). And honestly, those who decide to get out on the count of women and social justice “invading” their games, I feel justified in saying that gaming is better off without them.