KEVETT: Forcing female characters into Battlefield V is questionable
Opinions Column: Gamer Next Door
A new game developed by Dice is on the way, and you know what that means: controversy. Battlefield V is slated to release Nov. 20 on PS4, Xbox One and PC. The game is being crafted in traditional Battlefield style. Big destructible maps, first person shooter combat, a large in-game player count, vehicles and objective based gameplay are signature features of Battlefield games, including this new one. Battlefield V is set in World War II, with the bulk of the presentation set in the western front of the war. One may think, “A Battlefield game taking place in World War II? That sounds amazing!” Not entirely.
So far the marketing campaign for Battlefield V has been lackluster. Trailers for the game have shown what trailers for Battlefield games in the past usually showcase: explosions, big cinematic set pieces, a splash of NPC camaraderie, military vehicles and guns. So what is the problem? The game highlights female soldiers as part of the fight, as a major part of World War II. For the sake of diversity, Dice and their publisher EA are pushing what is essentially an alternate and totally inaccurate portrayal of World War II combat for the sake of pushing a gender equality agenda. The reveal trailer for the game featured a young woman with a claw for an arm fighting as a foot soldier in World War II. It was a confusing trailer to say the least, initially I could not even tell what era the game was supposed to be taking place in — there was no obvious indication.
I am all for games which feature characters that people can relate to, but if Dice and EA want to make such a game, they should not use World War II as its backdrop. The inclusion of women soldiers in the game’s marketing campaign feels forced. There were women who fought in World War II as resistance fighters and rebels, but the presentation for Battlefield V makes no specific distinction. The game seems like it is being forced into being politically correct for the sake of appeasing the masses while also alienating the game’s fan-base simultaneously. I am all for games set in an alternate reality, and it does not matter to me what gender or ethnicity characters in games are. But do not force female soldiers into a game about World War II, a war in which hardly any women actually fought. Sexism and gender inequality are the main reasons as to why females were not allowed to fight as official soldiers in World War II. To whitewash that part of history for the sake of entertainment is wrong. The game seems like it wants to be taken seriously while at the same time selling an alternate historical timeline. It is okay to sell an alternative timeline, but at least commit to it. Do not act like your game is an authentic depiction of World War II when much of it is quite the opposite.
It seems like the inclusion of women in Battlefield V is there to add surface value. Instead of women being added for the sake of their actual role in World War II, it seems they were added to the game to appease contemporary political values, such as equal representation of women. Games should not be created to contribute to the contemporary political discourse of society, they should exist for entertainment. Battlefield games are not typically political products, they are usually made for the sake of entertainment. If you are going to empower females, do not force it. Write in a female role that is not based solely on the notion of equality. You can have a strong female role that also is not pushing a political agenda. If anything, that would be better for gender equality than forcing it. Subtlety matters. When developers start adding their own personal agendas to their games, it it going to piss their fans off.
The problem is not a matter of females being included in the game, the problem is that the game has a poor and muddled presentation that makes it feel like females were forced additions to the game. So with all that said, I am going to wait patiently until after Battlefield V releases and the reviews are out before deciding whether I want to purchase a copy. The game’s presentation seems to be stuck in two minds, authenticity and political correctness. Battlefield V as a result might not sell too well because it is trying to do too much instead of focusing on entertaining its audience.
Mitchell Kevett is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history and minoring in political science. His column, "Gamer Next Door," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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