I’m Going to Have my Life Reset to “Girlfriend Mode”

Borderlands 2

Because obviously it would be easier, right?

Anyway, in case you hadn’t heard the atom bomb that went off over the comments made by Borderlands 2 developer John Hemingway about the “Best Friends Forever” skill tree that Gearbox is adding to the hotly-anticipated sequel, here’s what went down…

Eurogamer did a piece on Borderlands 2 and was present in studio with the Gearbox peeps throughout. They printed this quote in which lead designer John Hemingway says: “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.”

Borderlands 2 Mechromancer

He goes on to explain: “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.”



So then, after the shit hit the fan and they started getting some backlash, Gearbox and their president, Randy Pitchford, took to Twitter to defend the fallen Hemingway, saying it was all a big misunderstanding and that it’s totally not called “Girlfriend Mode” and that Hemingway was referring to his own significant other when he made the comment.

Listen up Pitchford. I may only live thirty minutes from Gearbox Headquarters in Plano, but ya’ll, I would be able to smell that bullshit all the way from San Antonio.


Am I playing the game right yet?

Here’s the thing, it may not be called “Girlfriend Mode” in game, but Eurogamer writer Wesley Yin-Poole has already stated that they heard the “Best Friends Forever” skill tree repeatedly referred to as that in studio by Gearbox staff. And it’s not the assumption that it would be called “Girlfriend Mode” in game that is rubbing me the wrong way, it’s the fact that you refer to something meant to be for people who are somewhat terrible at your game as “Girlfriend Mode.”

I would rather play a game with an easy setting called “Holy Shit, You Are So Bad at This Game” than one that assumes the reason I am bad at it is because of my gender. It’s not a nice or acceptable way of referring to anything, even in jest.

If you’re going to insult me, even jokingly, do it because I am terrible at something in general, not because I’m a woman.

Sure, my boyfriend got me into video games. And, yes, I never did a lot of console-based gaming until a few years ago. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t kick your ass occasionally. Or that I need an easy setting to get through a game.



I have a friend, a GIRL friend, who is the most Borderlands-crazy person I know and could wipe the floor with all our guy gamer friends if challenged. Including her boyfriend.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that the whole idea for this “Girlfriend Mode” was spawned because they created some adorable character that they probably thought would appeal to the ladies. I can just see the thought process now: demeaning me to a brainless zombie girl who only loves cute fluffy things and thinks blood and gore is “icky.”

So I don’t care if it was a mistake. I don’t care that a lot of game developers at a lot of companies have probably called modes like this “Girlfriend Modes” or some other variation. I don’t care, Hemingway, that you might be a super nice guy who otherwise treats women respectfully. You still fucked up and you still got caught. And you should probably apologize for your casual sexism.

Because I may need some help in-game sometimes, but it’s damn well not because I have a vagina.

3 thoughts on “I’m Going to Have my Life Reset to “Girlfriend Mode”

  1. Pingback: Borderlands 2 – First Impressions |

  2. ‘I would rather play a game with an easy setting called “Holy Shit You Are So Bad at This Game” than one that assumes the reason I am bad at it is because of my gender.’

    Beautifully put! And “casual sexism” is definitely the best way to describe this — I wrote a bit about that myself: http://batterywine.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/raywomyn/. Casual sexism (for that matter, casual bigotry of any flavor) is particularly insidious, and so particularly infuriating.

    Great post!

    • Thanks for the comments! And I totally agree, it may not be a comment worth fighting about but just casually tossing that kind of sexism out there is infuriating.

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