Tag Archives: Sexism

Girlfriend Mode and Casual Sexism in the Game Industry

An interview with Borderlands 2 lead designer John Hemingway posted on Eurogamer this morning showed off a new character class for people that are maybe new to shooters. It’s a punky female robot-tank summoner with a cyborg arm – the Mechromancer. The best part for FPS noobs? It comes with an entire skill tree tailored specifically for them. Shoot at the enemy and miss? No biggie – your bullets will ricochet off nearby walls and hit them anyway. This is honestly a terrific idea to get siblings, friends, your mom, really anyone unfamiliar with first-person shooters into the game with you. In fact, it’s called “Best Friends Forever” mode. Cute! I hope other games borrow this idea.

Unfortunately, Hemingway referred to it colloquially as “girlfriend mode.” You know, because girlfriends (and, by extension, girls in general) aren’t good at these hardcore shoot-y games, RIGHT?! Despite Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford’s assertions to the contrary,  it seems like that has been an internal nickname at Gearbox for quite a while. If your Lead Designer is spouting it off casually to members of the games press without a second thought, you can be pretty sure he never considered the implications. Continue reading

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