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There's been a bit of kerfuffle around the interwebs lately about Borderlands 2 and more specifically a new feature coming with their DLC only character the Mechromancer.  Down in the talent tree for the character is something the lead designer of the game calls the "girlfriend mode" -- a coop option that will allow people who don't play FPS games to join in the Borderlands fun.  On the surface it reminds me of the mentoring system in City of Heroes, meaning that a lower level player could play with a higher level character and still feel like they are contributing.

Really, the moniker he gave it is where we get into trouble.  Sure he flung it around a half dozen times when talking to Eurogamer, calling this new buddy system "girlfriend mode" and female gamers were immediately rubbed the wrong way.  It got heated enough that Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford had to step up and deny the fact that this system is in any way demeaning to women.  Still the words are out there, online for everyone to read, and realize that is exactly what was meant.

The problem isn't necessarily one game developer's sexist remarks, it's the fact that such a viewpoint is so pervasive that the easiest way to describe a noob/hardcore relationship was to bring up the girlfriend.  In a world where nearly 50% of gamers are female, this idea is offensive to everyone involved.  I'm not even a feminist, but this riles me.  Shouldn't someone in the PR department talked to John Hemingway before his interview about what the new feature should be called?  By allowing him the freedom to link gender into the conversation, the company opened themselves up for a very deserved tongue lashing.  

I like the idea honestly of a game mode that lets new players spend time with the hardcore.  In the first Borderlands my brother-in-law would join up to play with us and ended up just slaughtering everything in our low level zones and dropping off hordes of high level guns that cheapened the experience of playing the game.  But the instant that you toss out the "girlfriend" idea, you lose a lot of the respect I had for this team.  Hopefully their future communication with the gaming community will be less insulting.

[via Eurogamer]

1 Comments for this post.
[fraggadier] @ 7:41:46 AM Sep 1, 2012
Like 1 Disike 0

OMG so awesome!!! want

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