Girlfriend Mode? A storm’s coming, and it’s heading Gearbox’s way

One of the hottest controversies in the games industry this year is about to erupt once again.

Hot on the heels of the Hitman trailer scandal and the Tomb Raider rape controversy, Gearbox is dangerously close to stumbling into a sexism row of its own.

Speaking in an interview with Eurogamer, Borderlands 2 lead developer John Hemingway outlined an additional character scheduled for release 60 days after the main game.

It will introduce a user-friendly skill tree called Best Friends Forever. It will offer perks such as a decreased need for shooting accuracy.

The problem is that it has internally been dubbed Girlfriend Mode”.

The insinuation being, of course, that while normal, able manly gamers can handle the default Borderlands 2 adventure, those feeble, less-able, make-up wearing other halves need special hand-holding. As, after all, all those buttons and menus and guns and stats must be difficult for their wee ickle brains to handle, right?

"The design team was looking at the concept art and thought, you know what, this is actually the cutest character we’ve ever had. I want to make, for the lack of a better term, the girlfriend skill tree,” Hemingway explained.

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."

Eurogamer itself draws no particular emphasis on Girlfriend Mode and lets the comment pass without challenge. So perhaps we’re too dosed up on political correctness here at MCV and should just chill out.

Or, perhaps, Gearbox has just committed a massive booboo.

UPDATE 1: Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford has taken to Twitter to defend his studio:

Which concurs with MCV’s above story. The game does indeed not have a Girlfriend Mode. That’s just what all the devs refer to it as amongst themselves. Which is absolutely fine, of course. Oh wait…

UPDATE 2: The author of the Eurogamer piece has questioned Pitchford’s claims, saying that the use of the term ‘Girlfriend Mode’ was not an isolated incident.

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