"Girlfriend Mode" - ace13 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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"Girlfriend Mode"


This week, I am giving the foot-in-mouth award to John Hemingway, lead designer of Borderlands 2, after hearing him say of his game, "The design team was looking at the concept art and thought, you know what, this is actually the cutest character we've ever had. I want to make, for the lack of a better term, the girlfriend skill tree. This is, I love Borderlands and I want to share it with someone, but they suck at first-person shooters. Can we make a skill tree that allows them to understand the game and to play the game? That's what our attempt with the Best Friends Forever skill tree is." You can view the article here: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-08-13-borderlands-2-gearbox-reveals-the-mechromancers-girlfriend-mode


I do think it is a great idea to introduce a mode for a less experienced player, or someone who is perhaps overwhelmed to dive into a FPS. This sounds like a thoughtful solution in case two players of varying skills want to co-op together. The real problem with Hemingway's statement though is that he helped create an easier mode, and then in a sense placed the blame on women. Why can't this mode simply be called "Easy Mode"? I cringed when I first read his statement because it implies that 1) cuteness is important to entice females, 2) gamers are straight males, and 3) male gamers are better. So, because I play video games, I'm not as good as a male player? And furthermore I'm only playing to get a boyfriend?

Judging by the reactions of other women, I can certainly say I am not the only person who feels this way. I've read responses to this statement, some of which I don't agree with, who say it was a trivial slip-up. However, when you're the lead developer of a popular game and you casually say something like this, it hints at the underlying sexism in the industry. Statements like these are not very encouraging to potential female players, or women interested in a video game career. Also, it's outrageous to make the assumption that in order to appeal to a female audience, a game should be made easier. There are other female gamers out there passionate about FPS games who have to deal with sexist threats from other players. Just take a look at Not in the Kitchen Anymore and you'll see a woman who kicks butt despite personal attacks against her. Here is the link to this site: http://www.notinthekitchenanymore.com/



I don't believe I'm being overly sensitive about Henderson's remark. In fact, I think it's insensitive and wrong to just brush this off. As I've mentioned before, I'm a gamer, and I'm female, and I'm proud of what I have accomplished, so I'm angered to think Henderson is implying a boyfriend or another male figure in my life finished any games for me. My sisters and I were introduced to gaming by our uncle, and were encouraged to also play by our father, but this is a hobby we each developed a passion for in our own way. Just because Henderson may not be personally acquainted with a female player does not mean they are not out there. 

 

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