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Let's Discuss: The Battlefield V controversy continues

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In a recent interview with Gamasutra, EA chief creative officer, Patrick Soderlund, responded to the outrage over the inclusion of female soldiers in Battlefield V.

Soderlund's response boils down to these three arguments; female soldiers were present in World II; therefore, those who complain about it "are uneducated." Secondly, that Battlefield V is just "a game" and thirdly, that "the development team pushed" for it because "today gaming is gender-diverse, like it hasn't been before."

I've already covered the female soldier controversy in-depth, you can read about it here: A look at the two Battlefield V controversies and the response from DICE.

However, I do want to highlight a few points again; I wouldn't call these people who complain "uneducated" as female soldiers didn't play that active a role as combatants. Yes, World War II had a lot of females in vital roles - but mainly in auxiliary positions. Yes, there were a few female soldiers who were legends in their own right like the Russian sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenk and the notorious French spy Nancy Wake. Also, the females in non-combatant roles jumped out of aeroplanes into war zones to help wounded soldiers, so it wasn't a case of them being safely tucked away behind enemy lines.

But, they were not a visible combatant force across the various theatres of war. That being said, I do agree that first and foremost, Battlefield V is a video game and not a documentary portraying historical fact. But then again, you do want some authenticity in a game that claims to be about a very specific and very important historical event. Please understand, I am not devaluing the role of women in World War II, they were without a doubt extremely valuable, and I would even dare say many things would've turned out differently if it weren't for their presence and contributions. The complaints about character customization, therefore, carries a lot more weight than the female representation complaint as that was an even rarer occurrence in World War II.

Is it right to include diversity in a game just for the sake of diversity? Here is Soderlund's argument.

"We felt like in today's world—I have a 13-year-old daughter that when the trailer came out and she saw all the flak, she asked me, 'Dad, why's this happening?'" Soderlund said.

"She plays Fortnite, and says, 'I can be a girl in Fortnite. Why are people so upset about this?' She looked at me and she couldn't understand it. And I'm like, ok, as a parent, how the hell am I gonna respond to this, and I just said, 'You know what? You're right. This is not okay," continues Soderlund. "And today gaming is gender-diverse, like it hasn't been before. There are a lot of female people who want to play, and male players who want to play as a badass [woman]."

One of our readers presented the opposite of the above to me when he read my first article about this issue. He, on the other hand, wondered how he would explain to his daughter why a video game about World War II has so many female soldiers when she learnt in school that they were not that active as combatants in the war, but mostly in support positions.

Fortnite doesn't claim to be based on a historical event, Battlefield V on the other hand does. Don't understand me wrong, as a female gamer I am all for diversity in video games, and I am delighted to see strong female characters in games, Battlefield V included, but let's give people who raise valid concerns the respect they deserve.

If the inclusion of female soldiers in Battlefield V was the only historical fact EA took some artistic license with it would've been okay, but to push character customization on top of that seems to be too much for some fans of the series. Soderlund's response to that is simply ".. we don't take any flak. 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. I'm fine with either or. It's just not ok."

We also have to keep in mind that EA's focus with Battlefield V is to tell the untold stories of World War II, so it makes complete sense to focus on female characters as there should be countless such stories. Battlefield V's "War Stories" is the place where those should play out. Multiplayer? Not so much. But again, it isn't entirely incorrect to have female soldiers, especially on the Russian side like DICE portrayed in Battlefield 1's "In the Name of the Tsar" expansion that introduced the Women’s Battalion of Death.

I am all for diversity in as many video games as possible, but when your game is based on such a setting as World War II, then I do at least understand the complaints. Especially given the strong focus on customization and EA's history with finding ways to make more money off customers.

Does it mean I won't play Battlefield V? Definitely not, the game looks incredible, and personally I am not that bothered that a video game isn't historically 100% correct. I also just won't use the customization feature. On the other hand, it might irritate me to see groups of players looking like they walked from a steampunk Braveheart set into my World War II game. Both sides of the argument have valid points, so let's take a step back and consider what is being said.

A video game cannot be an accurate representation of historical fact. But don't push that artistic license to a breaking point. And always remain respectful.

If you're too upset about it all, then don't throw away a game that might very well turn out to be a fantastic experience. I recommend you make use of Origin Access Premier, or at least Origin or EA Access before you decide to leave the battlefield.

Battlefield V releases worldwide on October 19 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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"you have two choices: either accept it or don't buy the game"

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