ARMA-3-Recon-660x370

Bohemia Interactive

ArmA 3 is a military simulator coming later this year, and in my online travels I came across an interesting thread. The game does not include female character models and the community largely thinks that is not a problem.

The lens through which most people look at military games is amply from two sides: one of stagnation, the bane of a creatively pinched industry; or of dollar signs, with the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield ringing in millions. Ignored is the side of progress or of forward-thinking, to go beyond the limited expectations of military shooters and set precedent. It happens rarely because, for the console space, dollars dictate direction. For PC, there exists the same limitations but with technology as no obstacle, and as a last resort, vibrant modding communities.

Iconic now, the grisly video game cover of a male soldier surrounded by vehicles and explosions is rampant advertising. He usually stands uncompromisingly, gun hanging at his side, fresh from battle. It is reflective of a male-centric culture: that only men are interested in warfare, that men picture themselves as that soldier wreaking havoc, and that men dominantly serve in the world’s militaries.

But that last point is changing. Russian women served on the frontlines of World War II as snipers, tank operators and pilots. This year, the US and Australian militaries lifted their bans on female soldiers. Canada has allowed women to serve in all military trades since 1989.

ArmA 3, a military simulator from Bohemia Interactive, is driven by its community. While there is a single-player campaign, the invention of its player base spurs communal thinking, making for some impressively elaborate missions. Some of which take three or four hours to complete. However, Bohemia’s upcoming title caught my attention a different way–this thread specifically, questioning the exclusion of female soldier models.

While the topic may seem gender-based or rooted in feminism, it has a more logical backing: ArmA 3 is set in the year 2035, and by then women will serve on the frontlines as predominately as men. Moreover, the game will feature many of the world’s militaries, and in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries, there is no way women could ever serve in combat. Bohemia would need to have that point accurately reflected, of course, but as ArmA 3 is in its Alpha, time does not constrain them to include female models.

In the forum thread, many commenters dismiss the notion of women being included as playable models. They say it is of low priority when more pressing issues exist, like stability and performance. People occasionally throw in “kitchen” comments just to make the argument seem more juvenile. Some comments also argue female models would satisfy only a tiny portion of the fan base, not enough to be worthwhile to Bohemia, and that the studio should leave it to the modding community.

It is difficult to say sexism is at play. I would make the argument that by including female soldiers Bohemia would make a game set in 2035 more reflective of the time period, in that women will serve alongside men in combat roles. And in twenty years, hopefully, it is an understanding and not an issue. This debate is a prime example of how sexism is sometimes too prevalent of an issue and invades other arguments, entangling opinions into one confusing mess and making it irrelevant.

I’ve reached out to Bohemia and will update this article if they respond.

UPDATE: Project Lead Joris-Jan van’t Land responded in an email by saying: “Our ArmA 3 Alpha F.A.Q. has stated that the Alpha is not representative of the full game’s content, and as such the lack of female soldiers in the Alpha does not guarantee they will not make it into the full game. Previous ArmAs have seen female characters and they are on our roadmap. Whether or not they make it into the initial release, or in what capacity, is not a political debate for us internally, but a question of technical implementation and data production.”

To the readers: Is this a big issue, or something small, or a debate not worth having? Would having playable female models in ArmA 3 make you want to play it?

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  • Dwayne1999

    I love the ARMA series and i would very much like to see female soldiers included in the game. People might throw in the argument that women are not as strong as men blah blah and should have to compete on the “battlefield” as it were, but i know that the type of woman who would be ready and willing to fight on the front line is far more capable than myself ( a guy ) and I wouldn’t ever consider a professionally trained and super fit woman to be ” weaker ” than a lot of guys. She’d no doubt kick my ass for sure! Sure, most women won’t be able to beef-up to muscle mountains, like men do, but they’re still super fit and powerful people who are fully trained in weapons and combat fighting hand to hand etc… why not include female models, the women who put in the hard work and graft to become battle ready soldiers earn their absolute right to fight alongside the men. The army is a boy’s club still and they don;t like the idea of competing with a woman, just in case god forbid, they lose oh noez !! But the kind of women who join the army are not simpering, tottering, girly flowers who are concerned about breaking a nail or getting their boots dirty. These girls are fucking hard asses and would take most of us to the cleaners if we’d have the guts to try and take them on. Definitely include women models in ARMA III, because the series prides itself on it’s near realism, for the most part, and adding details such as this, is what ARMA does better than anyone else. PLEASE have ARMA do it 1st, before fucking CoD or Battlefield get hold of the idea and “sex it up”, oh christ !

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edward-Yee/100001127136579 Edward Yee

      … does Gears of War 3 count in having “done it first”?

  • http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/ Matt S

    The game leaving female characters out? Not necessarily sexist.

    The response of the community? Overwhelmingly sexist. And that’s why the sexism conversation needs to be had. Not because of the game developers – who are typically reasonably bright and well-adjusted people anyway. No. It’s because the game community continues to think it’s kosher to allow “kitchen” comments into discussions about women that I hope the sexism debate continues.

    Once the morons have either been silenced or leave the hobby, then we can go back to having more productive conversations about games.

    • egg651

      I’m not saying that there have been no sexist comments from the community, but It’s important not to lump all those opposed to the inclusion of female characters in ARMA 3 under the ‘sexist’ banner – There’s still a lot of work to day on the game and many simply think that the resources it would take would be better spent elsewhere.

      • egg651

        * ‘do’, not ‘day’

      • http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/ Matt S

        You could also argue that pretending that gender imbalance is not a real issue in the games industry, and suggesting that developers should not consider it a social obligation to promote a healthier attitude towards gender in the community is a tacit approval of sexist attitudes.

        If EA is able to give players the option to play as a woman in Mass Effect, complete with fully voiced dialogue, then there’s no reason that ARMA 3 can’t include female soldiers as part of the development process.

        • JeffHeilig

          If Bohemia were to include women as playable soldiers, it should be seen in a different light. Obviously it’s awesome to see studios taking steps to promote inclusiveness and understanding among their player bases, but from a historical viewpoint, in 2035 women will be on the front lines. Thus, wouldn’t Bohemia want to make their game as representative as real warfare as possible?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edward-Yee/100001127136579 Edward Yee

            You may not be aware that there is a vocal portion of the forums members base that is vehemently against the “2035″ setting to begin with, and so, so often bring real-world beliefs into arguing about the setting.

            (For context, the Arma timeline essentially diverged from our timeline in 1982 and 1985 with Operation Flashpoint: Resistance and Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis — the latter having been recently renamed Arma: Cold War Assault — followed by the subsequent Arma games.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edward-Yee/100001127136579 Edward Yee

      Note re: the community — I’m just bringing this up with regards to the article’s remark about “female troops in 2035″, but I should add that there is a vocal portion of the forums members base that is vehemently against the “2035″ setting to begin with, and they so, so often bring real-world beliefs into arguing about the setting.

      (For context, the Arma timeline essentially diverged from our timeline in 1982 and 1985 with Operation Flashpoint: Resistance and Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis — the latter having been recently renamed Arma: Cold War Assault — followed by the subsequent Arma games.)

      Unfortunately I wouldn’t have hope regarding “the morons being silenced or leaving the hobby”… especially not with how prone they can be to lash out at any perceived “outside agitation” on *ahem* “their precious”: everything from Arma 3 being a Steamworks game (hence requiring Steam accounts and installed Steam clients) with no plan for a non-Steam version (so all the cries of “I’d wait til 2014 for a non-Steam version” are for naught because “non-Steam version” goes directly against what Land and his CEO want, which is “only one version”) to persistent fears about Steam Workshop implementation (modders basically threatening to go Galt because of a certain Steam Workshop EULA clause) to continued arguments over DayZ (more specifically, its perceived negative affects on Arma 3 development or on the wider Arma player base for supposedly bringing in “BF3/COD kiddies”) or complaints over why their preferred supposed-hyper-realism* mod STILL isn’t the default gameplay in Arma 3, or complaints that the Arma 3 infantry is “too fluid and responsive”, or complaints that in controlling more like a conventional FPS it’s somehow become too much like BF3 or COD (these were actual complaints about Arma 3 infantry control)…

      * I’m reminded of a story where a realism mod’s “recoil” was dialed back after real-world veterans reported that it was unrealistically high.

  • http://twitter.com/MattWBP Matt WBP

    A big fan of the Arma franchise and long time player (since OFP days).

    I’d love to see female soldiers in Arma 3 and I believe that Arma 3′s setting (2035 I think) dismisses a lot of previous discussion about the current state of nations employment of female soldiers.

    Does including female player models solve the issue of the playerbase’s sexism? No. But it’s a step.

  • Anonymous

    Call me when a female can:
    Carry as much load as a male in it’s prime
    Sprint for as long as a male in it’s prime
    Avoid getting a period every month
    Develop stronger muscles than a man
    Resist much more damage than a man

    Then yeah sure, have them fight with us, females in the military would only serve as medics or use to give out commands or tactical decisions, a female should never be out in the frontlines slowing ever other male down, females are physically inferior proved by biology and science.

  • Anonymous

    “ArmA 3 is set in the year 2035, and by then women will serve on the frontlines as predominately as men.”

    That is complete and pure speculation and an extremely unlikely one. While I have nothing but respect for female support soldiers (hell one of my mates owes his life to a female medic) there is a reason why they are not on the frontline and anyone who has stayed in a FOB for more than an hour will tell you why. They threaten and put a squad at danger due to prompting, not purposely I should add, other males attempting to pull heroics.

    Including females as combat soldiers is unfortunately not authentic and will most likely never happen 2035 or not. Sorry ladies.

  • Joe

    What I like about halo is that it portrays both genders in combat-it adds to the realism, both genders fight and die. Frankly, I’m pissed that women weren’t accepted into militaries earlier: they need to fight and die for their nations just like men, it’s all a bit sexist against males, if you ask me.

  • rrrr4356

    Should Military Games Have Women Soldiers? WTF How can you even ask that.

    • JeffHeilig

      You leave a comment without expanding on your thought? Why would you even bother commenting here?

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