Battlefield V’s decision to prominently feature women in combat as part of its World War II setting may have angered some gamers online — who responded to the inclusion of female soldiers with the #NotMyBattlefield hashtag — but developers at Electronic Arts and DICE remain unmoved by the reaction.
In an interview with Gamasutra, EA chief creative officer Patrick Söderlund says that the developer is uninterested in taking flak for diversifying the gaming space. “We stand up for the cause, because I think those people who don’t understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game,” he says. “I’m fine with either or.” According to Söderlund, the dev team itself also pushed for women in Battlefield V.
In an interview with The Verge this week, lead designer Lars Gustavsson says that he was surprised by the negative reaction to the inclusion of women, particularly because he had heard so many fans ask for it. “If I got a dollar for every interview I’ve been in through the years, where people challenged us about not having female soldiers, I would be a rich man,” he says. “So to finally be involved with this decision, it’s actually quite mindblowing.”
“Accept it, or don’t buy the game.”
Many of those who used the #NotMyBattlefield hashtag complained that the inclusion of women was “historically inaccurate,” despite women playing a variety of roles during WWII as everything from fighter pilots to snipers. Söderlund found the response to be both ignorant and beside the point. ”These are people who are uneducated — they don’t understand that this is a plausible scenario, and listen: this is a game,” he says.
Executive producer Aleksander Grøndal also pushed back against the hashtag, saying the developer “will always put fun over authentic.” Nor is this a new development for the series. As general manager Oskar Gabrielson explained on Twitter, “the Battlefield sandbox has always been about playing the way you want.” This sometimes means offering fantastical experiences that are neither realistic nor historically accurate, “like attempting to fit three players on a galloping horse, with flamethrowers. With BFV you also get the chance to play as who you want. This is #everyonesbattlefield.”
EA’s dogged response to this debacle marks another instance of creators standing up against toxic fan bases who seek to rail against diversity and what they view as “PC politics.” When creators speak out against bad actors — whether they’re addressing Comicsgate, Rick and Morty, or harassment from Star Wars fans — they’re sending a powerful message about how abusive and exclusionary behavior will not be tolerated.
Gaming today is more gender-diverse than it’s ever been, Söderlund says, and there are “a lot of female people who want to play, and male players who want to play as a badass [woman].” In trying to explain the so-called controversy to his own 13-year-old daughter, Söderlund says he came to realize how ridiculous the conceit of the online backlash was. “I’m like, okay, as a parent, how the hell am I gonna respond to this? And I just said, ‘You know what? You’re right,’” says Söderlund. “‘This is not okay.’”
Correction: A quote from Lars Gustavsson was originally attributed to Oskar Gabrielson. We have corrected our story and regret the error.