Borderlands 2 is accused of sexism, but Toby McCasker thinks anything that will get his girlfriend playing is great.
By Toby McCasker on August 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm
Another day, another box of stolen pens. Also another teacup storm in the name of sexism in video games. This time it’s an errant comment made by Gearbox guy John Hemingway and blah blah snore, unless you’ve been having sex dreams under a sizeable rotunda of granite, you’ll know what went down. In short: Borderlands 2’s DLC Mechromancer class has been designed with the “Best Friends Forever” skill tree. Pursuing said tree makes things like aiming a lot easier, an initiative referred to by Hemingway as “Girlfriend Mode.”
I saw this late last night while casually browsing the Twitters. My first reaction was one of pure joy, and I ran inside to tell my long-suffering paramour about it.
Her reaction: “F**k yeah!”
We’ve been together a long-ass time. My often nocturnal gaming habits keep her awake most nights, the omnipresent glow of the LCD and the pew-pew of laser fire sometimes even turning her dreams into Star Wars. Nowadays she finds it endearing, and as longterm couples do, we take an interest in each other’s interests. She’s not a gamer herself, not really. She used to smash Pokemon Stadium on her N64 and managed to thrash the tits off of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon last year (optional bosses and all), but these are incidental flights of gaming fancy. She’s never, ever played a shooter before.
And I play a lot of shooters. A lot. She likes watching me play them, particularly Fallout 3 (“Shoot that guy in the face!”), but sorely wishes she could play them with me herself. An early introduction to the ruckus via Black Ops left her staring up at the sky while rude little boys scored easy kills and called her gross names. It was all a bit much for her, the control scheme in particular so utterly alien to someone who’s never really hit the FPS traps – aiming, of course, being the biggest obstacle.
This is not a unique scenario. I hazard a guess there are a lot of couples out there with a vidya dissonance such as this one, where one partner is nutty about it and the other much less so. This is the vantage point I firmly believe Hemingway was coming from, it possibly even being a personal one. I’m there right now myself. I found his choice of words relatable, and I’m struggling a bit to see how it could be construed as sexist in the way that it has been. I am now wary of calling a spade a spade because I don’t want Burke’s Backyard to come after me hollering, “Won’t somebody please think of the trowels?”
Anything that is gonna make it easier for the love of my life to share one of my other great loves with me is awesome. It is not an indictment on her, or even her fairer sex. Not to me. It’s just a common sitch. FPS is a genre with its appeal weighted in favour of the masculine and, on top of that, is one you also grow into. Men have been playing war since they were boys. Thus you can frequently count on the average lady to not be down with shooters, so what? Get them girls on the battlefield. I had training wheels on my bike before I went screaming down hills hollering like a madman too, y’know.