Battlefield V revealed, morons unite

EA have officially announced Battlefield V, in a video packed with pleasant surprises. As a female woman was used in the imagery, however, the internet nigh-on exploded with the stench of misogynistic morons farting out their thoughts en masse.

If you’ve somehow missed the fuss, you can guess the kinds of comments pretty easily. Usually wrapped up in the tracing-paper-thin veneer of a respect for historical accuracy, each and every protest translates as “OMG WHY IS THER A WOMEN IN MY WAR GAME?!!1?1”. Never mind that, as several people pointed out, one of the most successful snipers of WWII – indeed, of all time – was of the lady persuasion. Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko has 309 kills officially credited to her in the history books. Read up on Nancy Wake while you’re at it, who makes James Bond look like a pussycat. Speaking of which…

The above tweet, and the associated new official (according to me) name “Battlefield Vagina”, come from my super best bud Lauren, who definitely didn’t ask me to identify her as such. Although seeing one of the best tweets of the year emerge from the ferocious sexism was one of the few nice side effects, it did – with the grim inevitability of death – result in a rape threat from some worthless oxygen thief. That goes quite far in explaining why these idiots say what they do, but I also think this specific flare-up is indicative of a wider, even more important, problem.

How and why does a person – okay, a man, it is 100% of the time a man – end up thinking and acting in this way? A complex combination of factors for sure, including (but not limited to) family, education, peers, and personal experience. This irrational burst of hatred is certainly not unique to Battlefield Vagina. But it does, I think, act as a reminder that a certain type of poorly educated person relies on entertainment media at least partly as an educational tool, albeit subconsciously. We’ve been seeing games set during the second world war for decades, but few of them have acknowledged the existence of women in the armed forces. Fewer still when you look at AAA releases. Movies and TV shows, to be honest, haven’t been much better. So now that publishers and developers have finally started to (timidly) push women to the forefront of war games after all these years, it comes as a shock – and can be interpreted as dishonest and unrealistic – to people who weren’t paying attention when their presence was briefly discussed in school. If this one game says there were women in combat when these hundred games and movies over here never mentioned it, that one game’s obviously on some sort of politically correct crusade, right?

The Battlefield Vagina reveal did anger me a little, but it had nothing to do with the genders of the fictional people in the pictures and footage. My anger stemmed from the fact that this is yet another game set during WWII. Why angry? Because developers always, always seem to choose WWII as a setting for entirely the wrong reasons. They do not choose to make a game set during one of human history’s worst tragedies because they have something new, important, or interesting to say. They choose to make their game during this period because they believe it will sell a lot of units.

How many videogames explore the fact that the American government, with its significant military might, was content to watch the rest of the world plunge into chaos for two years right up until they were attacked? How many videogames explore, or even acknowledge the existence of, the Holocaust? Here’s a good one for ya: How many videogames acknowledge the existence of Hitler? Let me guess; your first thought there was Wolfenstein 3D, right?

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus not only admitted that Hitler existed, but did so in a very interesting way. The exception to the rule.

It’s pathetic. It really is. Grow the balls to treat a world war that resulted in literally millions of deaths as more than an excuse for antiquated firearms and third-rate movie setpieces, or leave them the hell alone. They’ve been done a million times already. Perhaps Battlefield Vagina’s campaign will reveal itself to be treating the conflict with depth and nuance, making me look extremely foolish. Call me cynical or narcissistic if you wish, but I sincerely doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see developers and publishers – however late to the party, and however initially bashfully – slowly but surely diversify their leads. Saying ‘this should have happened many years ago’ is true, but achieves nothing. Nonetheless, it’s worrying, I think, that the industry still doesn’t quite seem to realise that enough people are mentally and emotionally invested in their products to the point that it really does matter what they say and do. Stop idolising guns. Stop treating women as plot points. Stop pretending trans people don’t exist. Stop pretending good and evil are black and white. Stop pretending there’s a nice clean line between good guys and bad guys.

Most importantly of all, stop pretending that none of your consumers are harmful toxic idiots, because maybe – just maybe – your game could make a small but important difference there somewhere.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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