EA's decision to include women in the upcoming Second World War FPS Battlefield 5 has generated a lot of heat. A particular focus of complaints is on the perceived historical inaccuracy of having women on the front lines outside of a few select theaters, which is not a stable foundation for an argument. EA is having none of it.
Patrick Soderlund, EA's chief creative officer, told Gamasutra that the development team "pushed" for the inclusion of playable women in the game, adding that despite the common perception, "there were a ton of women" who fought in the war. He also emphasized that Battlefield 5 is not a history lesson: It's a videogame that's going to be played by a diverse audience living in a diverse world.
"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 OK.'"
"These are people who are uneducated—they don't understand that this is a plausible scenario. And listen: this is a game. 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]."
It's a little disingenuous of EA to talk about authenticity and believability and taking a "true journey through World War 2" while simultaneously giving us this wacky romp of a trailer. But that doesn't extend to bellowing about the inclusion of diverse playable characters, and I very much respect his willingness to draw a line in the sand on it.
"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," Soderlund said. "I'm fine with either or."
Battlefield 5 comes out on October 19, or a few days earlier if you go for the deluxe edition or subscribe to Origin Access. Here's everything we know about it so far.