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7 Jan, 2020 15:43

‘Women can’t handle stress of war’: Western journos open fire on hit Russian shooter devs for refusing to include female fighters

‘Women can’t handle stress of war’: Western journos open fire on hit Russian shooter devs for refusing to include female fighters

Gritty survival shooter ‘Escape from Tarkov’ is under attack from entitled journalists who think every game needs to cater to their political and world views. The ‘sin’ this time is that the title doesn’t feature playable women.

After experiencing a massive boost in popularity these past couple of weeks, thanks in large part to Twitch, the Russian developed first-person shooter finds itself warding off attacks after an interview from 2016 resurfaced. In it, programmer Pavel Dyatlov was asked why there aren’t female characters in the game, and he replied by saying “women are not allowed to be in the war” because they “can't handle that amount of stress. There’s only place for hardened men in this place.”

Not content with his answer, and possibly needing outrage clicks to meet this week’s quota, journalists decided to spread the musty answer that already produced the most minor of controversies at the time, and start a fresh, much bigger dog pile of hate and abuse at developer Battlestate Games’ doorstep.

A quick browse of social media reveals the team is being inundated with accusations of sexism and the like. Though not being widely discussed by the bringers of rage is that Battlestate COO Nikita Buyanov denounces the interview, and the person who gave it has been “reprimanded.” It was given by someone who isn’t high up the chain of command, and being that English isn’t their first language, something may have been lost in translation.

From the looks of it, they weren’t in a position to speak for the entire team. In a response on Reddit, the COO expressed that he in fact respects women in wars.

The true reasoning for why female characters aren’t playable is two-fold. For one, as the team is relatively small and working with a smaller budget than a typical AAA video game, it simply costs too much time and money to create new animations, gear fittings, and such. The second reason is due to lore. Escape from Tarkov is a work of fiction, but it involved units based on real-life counterparts from elite Russian and international fighting forces, which don’t currently feature women on the frontline. And even if they hadn’t been based on anything, the makers made a decision that CGI women wouldn’t shoot each other in the head within their game world. It’s just that simple.


However, to the perpetually disturbed, their reasons aren’t good enough, and the studio is facing even more criticism and vitriol from game journalists and industry insiders. A sad turn of events, as it is a well-crafted game created by a passionate and hardworking team of developers. Although, this situation reveals much of modern game journalism for what it really is.

The current game writing climate is composed of individuals who feel the need to trash any game that doesn’t cater to them. Over the past few years, we have seen this time and time again. Laughably, ‘Radical Heights’, the extremely early access and failed title from the now defunct BossKey Productions, also found itself in hot water when it didn’t have a playable female. Never mind the game wasn’t even close to finished and they had such a character in development, making all the anger ironic considering just how often such journalists call the audience they write for ‘entitled’. But let me ask, what is more entitled than demanding dev teams have exactly what one seeks at a specific time?

The fact of the matter is that not every game needs a female character, and not every studio needs to explain their reasoning for excluding various genders, or other identities. In the realm of creativity and art, everything should be allowed to exist. This is truer now than it ever has been, given women in games are far from rare. Of every game shown at 2019’s E3 convention, 65 percent of them allowed players to choose a gender for their protagonist, and another five percent featured strictly feminine heroes. That’s 70 percent of all games shown having playable chicks.

The best aspect of gaming is that it has something for everyone. If every title was inclusive to all and checked every diversity box available, nothing would feel different, and the medium would grow stagnant and die. There’s nothing wrong with having games that feature only men, or ones which feature just women, or any combination in between. The only thing wrong here are the journalists who keep sending harassment developer’s way all because they made something that wasn’t created with them in mind.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.