Borderlands 2 ‘Girlfriend Class’ Controversy
Gearbox, creator of Borderlands 2, has been working on a class that is geared towards allowing skilled players to fight alongside “newbies.” They accomplish this by giving the newbie class handicaps, such as auto-aiming and overpowered abilities, including a summonable powerful robot.
The class includes a “Best Friends Forever” mechromancer skill tree, which has led one Gearbox team member, Hemingway, to nickname it the “Girlfriend” class. Hemingway’s perhaps light-hearted but poorly-received comment could be taken as a sexist remark, implying that girls are not as skilled as their male counterparts.
John Hemingway told Eurogamer: ”I want to make, for the lack of a better term, the girlfriend skill tree. This is, I love Borderlands and I want to share it with someone, but they suck at first-person shooters. Can we make a skill tree that actually allows them to understand the game and to play the game? That’s what our attempt with the Best Friends Forever skill tree is.”
The comment sparked a large negative response, and Randy Pitchford attempted to defend Hemingway through Twitter. Pitchford claims it was nothing more than a personal anecdote, but the comment seems to imply a bit more than that. Hemingway should have thought before speaking, especially in this modern environment in which the gaming industry demographic has spread to include just about everyone, definitely not limited to men alone.
Sexism or no sexism, the new class sounds like an interesting idea to allow inexperienced gamers to get into the fun with the new handicapped class.