The Newest Battlefield Game Wasted a Great Opportunity: Opinion

As late as I am to the party, it still remains to me that Electronic Arts’ (EA) new title Battlefield V–at least from how it’s depicted in its first trailer–is going to be absolute trash. For those unfamiliar with the trailer in question, watch it here.

How the Western Front was depicted in the official release trailer was inaccurate at best, and comical at worst. The historical inaccuracies–from a katana-carrying British paratrooper to incorrect camouflage on German soldiers to V1 rockets being used in a tactical support role–have caused an uproar in the gaming community over whether or not DICE, the game’s developer, was right to include these things in the trailer and game.

Perhaps the most prominent, and most controversial, example of historical inaccuracies in Battlefield V was the inclusion of a disabled British woman on the frontlines, depicted as wearing face paint, having a prosthetic arm, and surviving several high-calibre gunshot wounds to the chest. While many Battlefield fans have expressed outrage at the inclusion of this historical inaccuracy and others, many media outlets have come out in support of DICE.

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Another depiction of the controversial character from the Battlefield V trailer, via Kotaku.

Battlefield V’s portrayal of women in World War 2 is utterly disrespectful––not only to the men who fought and died on all fronts of the war, but to the many women whose stories are rarely told. Those who really fought in combat–not in the Commonwealth or American forces–but as resistance fighters and on the Eastern Front. 

Lyudmila Pavlichenko. Lydia Litvyak. Mariya Oktyabrskaya. Nina Onilova. What do all of these people have in common? They were all female soldiers, fighting on the frontlines against the Germans. What else do they have in common? They were all Soviet soldiers, fighting on the Eastern Front – an oft-neglected theatre of the war, despite being where the war against Germany was won. Around 80% of all German casualties occurred on the Eastern Front, and in what was later dubbed “The Great Patriotic War,” around 10% of the entire Soviet population died, with some parts of the Soviet Union, such as Belarus, suffering around 30% mortality rates.

Of course, there were females on the Western Front as well. Nancy Wake, originally born in New Zealand, moving to France in the 1930s, where she met her husband. After Fall Gelb – the invasion of France, she joined the French Resistance, initially working as a courier and later joining the Special Operations Executive. Fighting the Germans with her band of Masquiards, she inflicted 1400 German casualties, while the Maquis only sustained around 100. However, Nancy Wake was not a member of the Commonwealth Forces, or the Americans. She was a resistance fighter. And more importantly, she did not have a prosthetic hand.

And let us not forget the partisans of many other countries that fought the Germans, with notable examples being from Italy, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and of course, China.

If DICE had decided to include other fronts in Battlefield V, then nobody (except for genuine misogynists) would have had an issue with female soldiers, as long as they were portrayed in a historically accurate way (ie, no prosthetics or face paint). But sadly, the Western Front tends to be over-represented in modern culture, from TV shows to movies to video games, despite being completely unnecessary. Sure, it reduced the length of the war and therefore the number of casualties, but had the Normandy landings (D-Day) not occurred, the Soviets would likely still have gone on to defeat Germany.

But the underrepresentation of the European Eastern Front pales in comparison with the true Eastern Front of the war: the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Of course, Chinese TV shows and movies on the subject are plentiful. But in the West, most people know nothing about one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. While many people state that World War 2 began in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, the fact remains that China had been fighting Japan since 1931, with war being declared in 1937. The negligence of the Second Sino-Japanese War is also reflected in modern culture; there are next to no Western TV shows and movies, and only a couple of video games, on the subject.

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Yugoslav women in uniform during World War 2. Image via Histomil.com.

If people really wanted to showcase the role of women in World War 2, they would have depicted a Soviet sniper, or a Chinese guerrilla, or even a woman in the factories back in England, where they replaced the men who were sent off to the front. By ignoring the historical contribution of women during World War 2, and replacing it with a fictionalised, idealised, radical third-wave feminist alternate history scenario, DICE has alienated a substantial portion of their fan base: the people who care about the Battlefield franchise at least being based in history and realism, and those who would have loved to see the actual stories of female combatants in World War 2.

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