Borderlands 2 “Girlfriend mode” comment sparks outrage with gamers

2 min read


One of the fun factors from the original Borderlands, was levelling up your character,through skill trees that had their own quirky names. That hasn’t changed much for the sequel, with all four lead characters having access to new abilities and skills, although labelling the ability tree of the fifth class, the Mechromancer, may have been helluva mistake on the part of Gearbox.

Talking to Eurogamer, lead director described the user-friendly skill tree, called “Best Friends Forever”, as a girlfriend mode for players who need a hand up in the game;

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.

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.

Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford then took to Twitter to do some damage control, after readers began to get antsy, voicing their displeasure at this comment. “Borderlands 2 does NOT have a girlfriend mode. Anyone that says otherwise is misinformed or trying to stir up something that isn’t there,” Pitchford said.

The future DLC Mechromancer class has a skill tree that makes it easier for less skilled coop partners (any gender!) to play and be useful.

Responding to one grumpy follower, Pitchford ended the defence, saying that “I didn’t know it was a nickname. It’s not even a thing – just a skill built from the idea of playing coop with noob friends.”

I’ll be honest here, and admit that I have no idea where to stand on this. On the one hand, I get that it was a possibly sexist thing to say, and to laugh it off just further continues the cycle that women are no good at games.

On the other hand, I also find the reaction to this news to be a tad extreme, after all, it’s just the comment from one developer on the project, and is by no means a call to arms to go and boycott Gearbox products.

I don’t want to be the fence-sitter here, so I’m just going to jump through a window and let you guys duke it out to see who can come up with a better argument for or against this issue in the game.

Last Updated: August 14, 2012

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