There are a few approaches I could take to this whole Rome: Total War II thing. I could talk about Gamergate, I could talk about the very real history of women being involved in warfare throughout history, I could take the issue at face value and point out logical inconsistencies, or I could get real pedantic and start ruffling through old college papers and toss out some of that good ol’ academic research. Instead, I’m going to try to appeal to common sense, because frankly, I’m tired of this crap. For the love of all that is good in games, why do people insist on yelling, review bombing, and otherwise throwing internet temper tantrums over the literal dumbest thing in video games this side of intensely-rendered horse anatomy?
I’m referring to, of course, all of the fake outrage over “historical accuracy” in video games. That includes Battlefield V and its inclusion of women in its story modes and goofy customization options in multiplayer (the latter of which is being toned down). It includes people being mad that some were upset about the lack of people of color in The Witcher III. Most importantly, it includes an angry mob coming at the people who work for Creative Assembly over a perceived, as in totally not even real, modification to Rome: Total War II.
Rome: Total War II has been generally well received by its audience and maintained positive reviews (even user reviews) since it launched in 2013. A 2018 screenshot showing a list of female officers in the “available for purchase” menu took off like a wildfire lit with a pack of soggy dive bar matches, and the following angry mob started claiming a recent update modified the number of female generals, to increase them. Because social justice warriors grew mad with power and took over the war sim, I guess.
Of course, that was totally BS, and the developers eventually released a statement breaking down the actual percentages. It noted which factions can’t produce female generals at all (there’s your historical accuracy), and noted that the game was not modified and is working as it normally has. Of course, this was in response to a massive review bombing effort on Steam (shout out to Steam for making review bombing an effective tactic in situations like this), and all sorts of yelling and harassment online. You know, totally normal, justifiable behavior. (Not.)
Nevermind the historical accuracy thing. Nevermind the fact that Total War has never been a 100% accurate game historically, nor could it ever be. Nevermind the blatant disingenuous posturing about historical accuracy in the first place. How did we get to this point? Why does such a visible chunk of the gaming audience think it’s okay to treat people like this? Don’t they realize there are human beings, overworked human beings at that (seriously, see the 2018 Telltale Games drama), on the other side of the video games they, presumably, enjoy playing? Are we as video game fans that divorced from reality that we just take this as the inherent side effect of the scene and just, allow it to happen?
It’s real frustrating, y’all. Obviously, I and other people like myself who write content like this, decrying these sorts of issues, do like video games. This is true, regardless of what all the comments you see when you CTRL-F “SJW” suggest on the contrary. It’s just really frustrating to see awful behavior like this just go off unchecked every time an obviously fake controversy like what happened with Rome: Total War II seep out of the cracks and walls of the gaming community like pungent juices from a movie theater trash bag.
I understand people being interested in things like history, especially with games like Assassin’s Creed doing so well with people and in terms of making fantastical versions of these times and places such a joy to hop around in. But again, throwing temper tantrums because the word “woman” appears on screen is not a good look. This is especially true when you look at comments and message board posts getting uppity about things the person behind them has no clue about, transparently parroting each other’s uninformed talking points.
Game developers do their research, but that can only go so far with games like Rome: Total War II. Getting mad about female generals isn’t even the most historically inaccurate thing in that game, if it’s even inaccurate at all. Just chill out and go read a book if you (the royal “you,” mind) find yourself so seething with rage, you’re about to scream at some PR or dev person on Twitter or write a pointless angry review on Steam. You might actually learn something.