Battlestate Games, developer of Escape from Tarkov, justified the game’s lack of female playable characters in that it would be a “huge amount of work,” and that it does not fit with the game’s lore (via VG247).
This isn’t the first instance that Battlestate Games has gotten into hot water with this topic. In 2016, a representative stated that “women can’t handle that amount of stress” present in the combat situations of action role-playing game Escape from Tarkov. As such, female playable characters could not be considered. This was a weird thing to say, because there have been countless female combatants recorded in history books across the world, and women serve in the armed forces of many countries today.
The comment from 2016 was brought up again due to Escape from Tarkov’s recent rise on Twitch. Battlestate Games released an official statement responding to the past controversy… but it hasn’t helped. “The answers were done by one, not a key BSG employee which probably were misinterpreted and as a result didn’t reflect the official position of the company, that we always respected women in wars and military women,” the statement began. This representative had been “reprimanded and properly instructed” for their misstep, but the developer’s stance on female playable characters has not shifted.
“Just to finally clear the question about women in EFT,” said Battlestate Games. “First – there are women in EFT already (trader, some future key storyline quests will have women as main characters). But there will be no playable female characters because of game lore and more importantly – the huge amount of work needed with animations, gear fitting etc.” Battlestate Games is a small studio that does not have the resources that a triple-A developer has access to, but this justification is very worn out. To the point that it is unravelling before your eyes. You probably couldn’t take it to the charity shop in good faith, it’d have to go in the bin.
Professional character artist Delaney King and Arkane narrative designer Hazel Monforton contributed to the discussion with their own experiences of game development. According to King and Monforton, animating female characters with the current toolset is straightforward even with a small team, and the problem arises with hiring new voice actors.
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