When Battlefield 5‘s trailer dropped, a particularly vitriolic sect of the internet whipped out its collective keyboard in order to complain about the events that had unfolded. For one, the game involved a woman with a disability in a starring role. This, it was said by its critics, was an inauthentic representation of World War 2. Despite EA not being contractually obligated to strictly follow the events of WW2, and women having actually served combat roles during the war, the thinly-disguised argument that introducing this female character would “break immersion” was rolled out. It turns out that EA isn’t apologetic for its choice of playable characters, and if people don’t like the company’s decision, then CCO Patrick Soderlund perfectly content with those players not picking up Battlefield 5.
We’ve seen plenty of World War 2 games over the years, and many have followed the same formula. As such, the expectations of what a WW2 game should be has become extremely limited. Soderlund explained how the team at DICE wanted to explore the stories that haven’t been told, similar to Battlefield 1‘s varied single-player campaign.
“Battlefield 5 is a lot about the unseen, the untold, the unplayed,” Soderlund told Gamasutra. “The common perception is that there were no women in World War 2. There were a ton of women who both fought in World War 2 and partook in the war.”
Continuing to not hold back, Soderlund discussed how the landscape of gaming has changed, and that EA is looking to be more inclusive. Calling video games “gender diverse,” Soderlund noted how “there are a lot of female people who want to play, and male players who want to play as a badass [woman].” He added that those complaining about the inclusion of female characters in Battlefield 5 are “uneducated,” and that “they don’t understand that this is a plausible scenario.”
The CCO also noted how “this is a game,” highlighting a point that should be obvious — authenticity doesn’t matter as much as appealing to a broad base of players. If authenticity mattered in games that much, then those complaining about Battlefield 5 would have perhaps preferred a portion of Battlefield 1 devoted to a soldier incapacitated with trench foot.
“And we don’t take any flak,” Soderlund concluded. “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.”
It’s heartening to see a major company like EA take a bold stance like this, effectively telling potential customers to not pick up a major release if they’re uncomfortable with it featuring female characters. It’s also nice to see Soderlund expressing the point that video games are for everyone, and that this is something that EA values more than re-telling the same war stories to appease those who are scared of change.