Walls and Women

Some of you may heard of a little game that just came out.  People are saying that it’s done mildly well in terms of sales.  I’m talking about Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

battlefield bad company 2 cover image

Clearly that smily face is hiding chauvinistic tendencies.

Already it may be obvious to some what I want to talk about; I’m referring to the lack of any female presence in the gameplay.  There’s been some hurt feelings and some anger in response to the shutting out of women.  There has also been a lot of ignorance and sexist comments.  I figured that I’d do what I do best and stick in my two cents.

I want to start out by saying that I have not played this game and have no interest in doing so.  I understand the appeal, but I like defeating other people when they are in the room with me.  Is it because I’m a girl?  No, it’s because I’m an introvert who likes single player games and quiet evenings with friends.  Multiplayer games aren’t for everyone, but there are women out there who love them.  Just like I like awkward nerdy men, but some people like muscle-necked narcissists.

david tennant

OMG. Screw muscles forever, I like my men thin.

It’s all about choice, and people love to choose.  Those that choose multiplayer will likely want to choose which gender to play as.

Here’s what we’ve been told. Gordon Van Dyke, producer of the game, has said the following in an interview on Kotaku Talk Radio.  “Do you have women in your game,” asked an interviewer.

“[Laugh] No.  … No, there’s no girls in our game.  Which is an interesting thing though because it’s fun that you kinda bring that up because I can kinda give some insight into development and how games are made. When you actually put in female characters, typically you have to put in an entire new skeleton model and that entire new skeleton model adds an entire new level of animation and an entire new level of rigging and you basically double the amount of data and memory for soldiers that would need to go into your game. So it turns into one of those things that’s like, how much will putting something like this in give us?  Whether the rewards of putting something like this in there?  Because the reward has to match what you have to give up somewhere else.

Our games are pushing the edge of the system they’re on at such a high degree that it becomes more about a balancing act for implementing new things, or how many vehicles you can have in a game and how many buildings with destruction, because every single one of those things needs to be calculated by the server and transmitted to every single play that’s playing that game, so every time you shoot a building or wall, the players, if they see it when it happens or, if they go past that, at a later date, the server needs to remember that data and then transmit it to all those players.”

To put that in simple terms, the more variability and the more that’s going on, the harder the servers have to work to show that to everyone.  One big draw to this game is it’s wall destruction.  The idea is that any cover can be blown up, and a person can even be shot through a wall.  This sounds really cool, and I’m glad that they could do this in a game.  But really, how does this stack up to leaving out half of the population?  This is where some of the anger comes in.  There are those who feel that Van Dyke is saying walls are greater than female inclusion, or that they simply didn’t want to put the time into putting together female models.

a brick wall

Me > The Ladies

I am not one of those people.  Why don’t I fall into that camp comes from a lot of thought and a lot of admitted ignorance on the part of game development.  I am not a game developer.  That one class I took in high school where my classmates and I made a small, admittedly crappy game about exploring a horror house of mummies with our main character ‘Kate Landon’ does not make me an expert on the industry.  Could they have actually put in women without sacrificing a key component of their game?  I don’t know.  I honestly have no idea because I’m not on their development team, and I don’t work in the industry.  I’m studying to be a scientist, not a computer engineer.

What I do know is this.  Yes, it is unfair to forget half of the population.  Women are actually in combat positions and have proven just as reliable, loyal, and resourceful as their male counterparts.  The myth that our delicate little vaginas can’t handle a little dirt and so can’t fight in the army is, to be completely not diplomatic at all, stupid,  false, and proven untrue.  People who say this know nothing about vaginas and likely have never seen one.  Yes, a virgin joke.  Burn.

Nintendo fat nerd

What are you looking at? I'm a lady's man. Don't stereotype.

But back to point.  Though I understand their position and accept why there are no women in the game, it still saddens me.  The walls, on paper, definitely more important than a purely cosmetic feature, but I hope they are keeping in mind the real casualties; they are alienating a part of the fanbase.

Further reading here and here

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