Now that games have evolved past the days where amorphous sprite blobs left us wondering if our avatars are actually human, we have a whole host of other concerns with every games. One of these comes down to representation. Who are we playing as? Do our characters look or act anything like us? Should they? These are all valid questions. While in adventure games, platformers, simulations, and RPGs, we should absolutely always see characters that are representative of all different races and genders, things get a little more questionable when it comes to first-person shooters.
In particular, we’re thinking about Team Fortress 2. Drew Wolf, who formerly worked as an artist with the company, revealed some news that was a very big deal. In 2009, Valve considered making female characters for the game. That means female versions of the Demoman, Engineer, Heavy, Medic, Scout, Sniper, Soldier, and Spy. (There was no Pyro concept art. Maybe it is and has been a woman all along?) The designs are detailed, yet very reminiscent of the classes we know and love. They show not only women, but women from different races. Wolf even said each one was to be designed with their own identity.
And then nothing came of it.
Team Fortress 2 is a game that is now 17 years old. Despite that, it is still popular and draws crowds to play. When it launched, we were in an era where it wasn’t uncommon to have different character models showcasing different genders and races. Yet, each person in this game is a white guy voiced by other white guys. It doesn’t make sense and, considering the game is still being supported, seems like it should have gotten a bit of a visual update. After all, if Valve could add ranked matchmaking back in 2016, it could have offered some new character models and voice acting.
After all, this is Valve we are talking about. It isn’t some indie studio struggling to make cash. Team Fortress 2 is still making bank from its microtransactions. Couldn’t that have gone toward diversifying the cast a bit? Give us people who look different, maybe a little more like ourselves. It isn’t all that hard. And think how much people would appreciate it. It could certainly add more character to the game.
Of course, someone could try and say that Team Fortress 2 is a first-person shooter, and an older one at that. You never really see yourself, just the other players. And at 17, should Valve really be pumping more money into it? But then, look at other first-person shooters. Call of Duty and Battlefield didn’t have to add diverse soldiers, but both games have female avatars. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, one of the latest multiplayer darlings, lets people choose their gender and skin tone.
Team Fortress 2 is a game with a lot of personality, but remaining so homogenous isn’t a good thing. Valve has a huge fanbase, and people like playing games where they can see characters who look like themselves. It would not have been too difficult to take Wolf’s designs and put them into the game back in 2009, giving us new genders and races, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to do so now. If Valve is planning any more major updates, like the one in 2016, it would be nice if letting us choose what our avatars looked like was among the changes.
Image Credit: Agent Melon