Battlefield 5: Won’t Somebody Think of the Men?

Last night saw the global reveal of DICE’s upcoming Battlefield 5, and its mid-October release date. While the stream was relatively short, focusing on the devs new ideas and what they hope players to experience upon release, they ended the stream with their CG reveal trailer that while pretty, was unremarkable and inoffensive, not constituting any serious comment. Or so we all thought.

But then we got “#notmybattlefield.”

Yes, they already have a t-shirt.

”Gamers’” sense of entitlement has yet again gone beyond parody. We’ll keep this brief; unless your name is Andrew Wilson, it is not and never has been “your” Battlefield.

Here’s a good representation of where the level of discourse is at:

Having the  Battlefield trailer feature a woman with a prosthetic arm saving the “player” is apparently too much for some people. Already these angry people are refusing to touch it, in spite of the fact that they’ve yet to see any gameplay footage. According to these definitely not overly sensitive “fans,” this woman is just far too unrealistic and “historically inaccurate” for something set during WW2. These newly devoted historians were quick to tell everyone and anyone that “women did not fight on the front lines” when in fact a quick Google search proves that many women in occupied Europe did in fact fight and had a significant level of notoriety.

Their second criticism is that nobody with a prosthetic would be we sent to fight, which makes sense, but again, another google search and you’ll instantly discover Virginia Hall, an infamous spy with an artificial foot who was considered by the Nazis as “the most dangerous allied spy”. That’s also ignoring the fact that these people’s homes had been occupied, so they didn’t exactly have the luxury of choice, all limbs present or not. The point is, given a few minutes and you can quickly discover where DICE may have taken inspiration from historically.

So the angry ones have moved onto their latest bulletproof argument, which is that the inclusion and prominence of the often forgotten women who fought in World War 2 is disrespectful to the men who fought. Ignoring the fact that video games based on any war, have always been, by their very premise, disrespectful, turning the sacrifices and loss into entertainment enjoyed by children for over a decade. But only now do long-standing fans care about this? That’s odd.

But that’s really not the issue here; in just a few short hours we’ve been treated to the usual virtue of “forced inclusion,” “political correctness,” and other such nonsense. A small but loud group of the community are yet again complaining about how women are apparently being artificial represented in places where they do not belong, pointing yet again, as they always do, to the female-led Ghostbusters as a prime example. They’re asking, now that a game’s box art solely features a woman (the horror), what is next? A female Band of Brothers movie?

While that actually sounds pretty good, they’ve unintentionally touched on the crux of their issue — the people crying on the internet over this are not historians, aside from a short school term studying it in Spring and that week where they were bedridden by appendicitis and binge-watched Jeremy Isaacs’ The World at War doped up on morphine. They’ve clearly spent very little time researching the history. If they had, as I’ve just shown they wouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss their inclusion here out of hand.

The problem is that we have been exposed to media and content set in WW2 for all of our lives. As the devs themselves said, “we’ve seen all the movies,” we’ve played the games, and “we’ve all stormed the beaches of Normandy multiple times and cleared out every occupied bunker in France.” If the uncountable hours you’ve spent in these male-centric portrayals of WW2, where women were either nonexistent, served as an object of desire or at the very best an unimportant side character, it’s no wonder that the WW2 you perceive and your thoughts on its history are so warped. Battlefield 5 wants to tell the untold stories, and I doubt they’ll be the only ones in the coming years. But if this is the first you’re hearing all of these tales and you’ve bought into the “SJW conspiracy,” it’s no wonder you think it’s all being rewritten. History is funny like that.

A warped perception of history due to an overexposure of films and games that tell the same macho tale again and again is, while an interesting idea, wholly irrelevant in the context of Battlefield 5. During the press conference, we were told that Battlefield 5 “is not focused on historical accuracy.” DICE has openly stated it is more interested in specific, untold stories its developers wish to share. The level of scrutiny and outrage being directed towards them is moot. It’s their game: they can do what they want, set it wherever they please, and tell whatever tale they desire.

Your enjoyment is dependant on a sensitive sense of disbelief that finds Nazi Zombies and a Pope with magical pieces of Eden absolutely fine, but a woman in WW2 is just too much for you? I’ll take an interesting and liberal use of the artistic license over a strict adherence to “historical accuracy” any day. As was demonstrated earlier in the year with Kingdom Come: Deliverance (our senior editor actually quite enjoyed it! – Ed.), we’ve yet to actually have a good “historically accurate” game.

For some, my above points will hold true and they may see Battlefield 5 as a possible learning experience, perhaps excitedly so. But obviously, there are people who honestly just do not want women in their super mature shooting game, whose argument of historical accuracy or how its an insult to WW2 vets is just a front. There’s no denying the toxicity that permeates video games and here is just the latest reminder. I suppose it’s a good thing they are boycotting the game because it means Battlefield 5 players, myself included, won’t have to suffer them come launch. Wonderful news.