Battlefield 1, the upcoming video game shooter from DICE, takes the franchise back in time to World War I; and while the series stresses realism in its graphics and depictions of military hardware, the expectations of players mean that not everything will behave as it did in a real war. Technology will be more reliable, tanks will be more effective and parachute use far less precarious; all in service of making the gameplay still fundamentally “fun” in the manner expected by fans of the series.
The latest Battlefield game franchise installment will also eschew the option for players to choose a female avatar in multiplayer mode. However, it won’t necessarily be for the reasons that you might expect.
According to PC Games, former DICE coder Amandine Coget revealed on Twitter that the original plan for the game was “Screw realism, we’re adding female soldiers, because we’re way overdue,” thus adding playable female avatars to the list of places where Battlefield 1 would break away from the real-world events of World War I. However, the decision was later rescinded, and to hear Coget tell it the rationale was less concerned with “realism” than the perception thereof by a vocal portion of gamers:
“I did eventually get them to spit out the real reasons. [Other deviations from reality are] believable but female soldiers are not, to the core audience of boys.”
In other words, the developer was concerned that the potential backlash that could be felt from younger male gamers (if female player-characters were included as part of the multiplayer mode) made including them a bad risk for the game. It’s not difficult to see where the developer is coming from. As gaming has become a more diverse space with more and more players outside of the medium’s traditional demographics looking for representation, counter-movements have sprung-up online that seek to aggressively “punish” developers or individual designers who seek to step outside the limitations of the medium’s past – particularly in regards to gender inclusivity. But while it’s entirely plausible that DICE was concerned about engendering that sort of backlash, it will likely come as no comfort to disappointed gamers who may have looked forward to playing Battlefield 1 multiplayer in their avatar of choice.
Ironically, the single player campaign of the game does still feature at least one playable female character as part of the storyline. Additionally, while female combat troops were not necessarily “common” during The Great War, they were not unheard of – particularly on the Russian side, where the Russian Provisional Government formed multiple Women’s Battalions in 1917; including multiple “Battalions of Death,” the Kuban Women’s Shock Battalion and a Naval Detachment.
Battlefield 1 releases for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One worldwide on October 21st, 2016
Source: PC Games