Total War Game Gets Review Bombed On Steam Over Women Generals [Update]

Over the past 24 hours, strategy game Total War: Rome II has picked up over 350 new negative reviews, triggering Steam’s graph-based review bomb alert system. The reason? A controversy surrounding women generals.

It began last month with a handful of Steam forum posts and reviews in which players claimed that recent updates had increased the frequency with which women generals showed up as candidates for their armies. One went so far as to insist that “over 50 per cent” of their generals were women and offered a screenshot as proof.

In response to sentiments like these and a discussion that spiralled out of control on Rome II’s Steam forums, community content editor Ella McConnell said probability of getting a woman general comes down to luck of the draw, and that if these people weren’t OK with that, there are mods they can use to remove women entirely—or they can just play something else.

Image: Chaos Puppy

Total War games are historically authentic, not historically accurate,” she wrote in August. “If having female units upsets you that much you can either mod them out or just not play. People saying they won’t buy the game because there are too many women in it is fine with us—if that’s their reason, we’d rather they didn’t anyway.”

In subsequent responses to similar threads, she clarified that other elements of the Total War games are also not 100 per cent historically accurate, and that she’s not trying to push an agenda, but rather conveying how Creative Assembly feels about its own game series.

“I’m not HR, nor is it my job to push a ‘personal agenda,’” she wrote earlier this month. “I convey the views of the company, which is where the statement regarding historical authenticity vs. historical accuracy (and the inclusion of women) originates.”

She is, however, fighting an uphill battle, having only recently been brought in to moderate a forum on a platform that’s been largely unmoderated for most of its existence.

Things hit a fever pitch over the weekend, when the discussion got picked up by people like YouTuber Arch Warhammer—who made a video entitled “Creative Assembly Don’t Want You To Play Their Games”— and others outside the Total War: Rome II community like Gamergate-friendly blog One Angry Gamer and, eventually, neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer.

The crux of the first two’s arguments was similar: Creative Assembly patched its game to the point of what they perceived to be historically inaccurate oblivion, and then a community manager had the gall to tell them to play something else if they didn’t love it. (The third site, predictably, just said a bunch of Nazi stuff.)

Since then, negative Steam reviews have poured in like so many tiny toy soldiers. “Ruined a totally fine game by bringing modern politics into a B.C. era game,” reads one that’s been upvoted 196 times.

“I’m fine with women but i’m not fine with political changes in a historicly [sic] based game (not even a new one at that). Leave politics in real life not my games. The overall disdain they have for their base tells it all.”

“0/10, would not check my privilege again,” reads another.

Others rant and rave about “CULTURAL MARXISM” and call for boycotts. It’s a grand old time, in other words.

Elsewhere, on Rome II’s Steam forums, people are calling for McConnell’s firing, even though she said she was just relaying a message from on high. It’s reminiscent of the reaction from a vocal contingent of the Guild Wars 2's community, or the pile-on that recently saw systems designer Daniel Klein and communications associate Mattias Lehman leave Riot in the wake of controversy surrounding a PAX panel focused on women and non-binary people.

While the circumstances are different, the broader idea is the same: game developers didn’t spoon-feed a handful of players exactly what they wanted to hear, and they want blood. Naturally, people rallying around Rome II are employing the same sorts of tactics and rhetorical tricks that worked for other roving bands of enraged culture warriors because, well, they worked. People got fired.

The twist here is that many of these people’s fears appear to be unfounded. In response to this brewing brouhaha, some players decided to dig around in Rome II’s database. YouTuber RepublicOfPlay posted a video of his findings, pointing out that only certain cultures—Romans not among them—can even have women generals, and there’s a 65 per cent chance characters will be born male, and only a 35 per cent chance they’ll be female.

That means in-game birth rates are historically inaccurate in favour of men. RepublicOfPlay ran some numbers and came to the conclusion that your chances of getting a woman general is about one in ten in most cultures—except the Kush faction, which boosts women’s probability to reflect actual history.

Regardless, women generals then get dropped into a selection pool which is populated mostly by men.

“If you were to set it to be one per cent or 0.1 per cent to be more historically accurate, thousands of players would never even have it occur in their campaigns ever, even over multiple campaigns,” said RepublicOfPlay. “The spawn rates just need to be higher than reality just so that it happens for gameplay.”

He noted that you could end up with only women generals in your selection pool as in the now-notorious review screenshot above, but it’s “extremely unlikely.”

As of publishing, Creative Assembly had yet to respond to an inquiry for comment on the situation, nor had it spoken about it publicly on social media. For now, some Rome II players continue to rage.

UPDATE 26 September 2018 5:08AM AEST: Total War has posted an update via Twitter about the percentage of of female generals and historical accuracy, which reads:

There have been no changes to recruitable female general spawn rates. But with the addition of the family tree feature and the new gameplay options it brings, playable factions may gain more female family members via marriage. If a player has their male family members seek a wife and get married, more females enter the family. This means more female characters may appear as recruitable generals, but again, only in those factions where female characters may be recruited as generals.

Female characters appear throughout the game, but have between a 10 and 15% chance of appearing as recruitable generals for some of the playable factions. The exceptions are the Greek states, Rome, Carthage and some Eastern factions, which have a 0% chance, and Kush, which has a 50% chance. This is to broadly represent the cultural differences in those factions during the time the game is set.

These percentage chances are moddable by players. We’ve not seen a verifiable bug where this is shown to be different or not working as intended.

We have no plans to patch this out or remove this feature from the game.


Comments

    I don't really see the issue with her opinion, TW titles have been heavilly modified for an age now. If people have an issue with it and how it portrays history they can just install mods, which most of the "history focused" neck beards will do anyway because they always pick apart the core titles.

      It’s not about history it’s about hatred

        If you generalize them you are just pushing people away. I have friends that legit believe the mass inclusion of women in the BF titles is silly due to the ratio of how many actually fought. Their argument is one of historical accuracy (which is obviously misguided), but I don't believe they are the woman hating type. They genuinely believe that thematically the titles are inconsistent, regardless of the inclusion of theaters that did have female fighters.

        I guess what I am trying to say is that engaging people like that instead of blanket statements is going to be a lot more effective.

          The thing is that believing it's silly or even stupid is entirely fine! And if it's such silliness or stupidity that they simply cannot stand, then, as advised, they can mod it away or take their business elsewhere. Hell, they might even pen a strongly worded letter with lots of historical evidence and an lengthy argument regarding why games need to be exceptionally accurate. But why would they also feel the need to angrily voice their displeasure, make dozens of videos, bomb the reviews and overall make a big fuss?

          That's the part that betrays it's not simply a personal opinion or a matter of preference but rather a furious attempt to make the world conform, to flatten and silence every little thing that they perceive as adding representation to other people under the mistaken and absurd belief that it takes away from them.

          Also of note is the fact that you don't hear much hubbub regarding all the other, more egregious historical inaccuracies in these games. Wonder why is it? Because the people who do genuinely care about them are not many nor are they particularly loud. But on these matters, they get their signal greatly amplified by sexists who take advantage of their fastidious historian's indignation to push their agenda.

        You say that as if history and hatred are mutually exclusive. Unfortunately they are closely related.

      I don't really see the issue with her opinion

      The thing is it isn't even her opinion. It's the company's opinion.

      But because she's both female and the one who was the messenger, the internet is going to blame her. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear she's been doxxed before the week's out.

        Which isn't helped by privacy laws being so shit house that the little turds feel like there won't be real repercussions.

    There’s an irony that the anti-sjw’s will often use the “if you don’t like it don’t play it” defence when someone critiques unfavourable depictions if women in games.

      I think it's a bit rich to tell your fan base to play something else if they don't like the change after they've already purchased and played your game for some time (you can only review steam games you own) and the backlash is a result of a change that you made.

        Does it break the game? Or does it break your brain? One matters, the other does not.

        I think it's a bit rich to act as if they've done something massively game-destroying when all they've one is balance out the (cosmetic) genders of the faceless characters.

        And as they've said, if you're really that anti-women that you can't stand having them appear more often, then you can get a free, easy to obtain mod from the Steam Workshop to 'fix' it.

          I dont care they added women. But every time a developer has told fans to stop playing their games, I have. If the only way you have to communicate with your audience is "my way or the highway" then you're an idiot. Goodwill is important, specially in niche genres.

            What do you mean, though? It's not really a standard part of the contract between players and creators that the player dictates the conditions of the game, is it? That's what hacking is! Aren't all games "my way or the highway" until a player hacks them to change the rules and thus assume a creator role of sorts? Isn't that what a game is? A set of rules, narratives and conditions that are specified by the creator into which you are invited to participate at your leisure?

          Anti-women? I’d hope a game that’s based in a historical setting would remember that for much of human history, generals were predominantly males, as were the troops. Having female generals start appearing basically breaks that historical credibility and seems to be done for no reason. People can not want female generals and not be “anti women”.

            But it's a game that's a work of fiction. It is never going to be historically "accurate", so why is it so important to some people?

              It’s grounded in history, they even say that in the article. It isn’t Doom or Warhammer: Total War. It deals with an actual time period in human history.

                It’s grounded in history, they even say that in the article.

                Yes. Grounded. Not a 100% perfect reproduction. It's just like the movies that say they're "Based on a true story." There are some elements that are accurate and other parts that are changed or edited for modern times.

                I mean, in roman times it was acceptable to marry someone as young as 12. Are people protesting as badly about the historical inaccuracies of this not being included? Or the lack of wood variety with resource management?

            I’d hope a game that’s based in a historical setting would remember that for much of human history, generals were predominantly males, as were the troops. Having female generals start appearing basically breaks that historical credibility and seems to be done for no reason.

            But I notice you, and many of the others outraged at this travesty, didn't have an issue with this aspect of the game:

            The twist here is that many of these people’s fears appear to be unfounded. In response to this brewing brouhaha, some players decided to dig around in Rome II’s database. YouTuber RepublicOfPlay posted a video of his findings, pointing out that only certain cultures—Romans not among them—can even have women generals, and there’s a 65 per cent chance characters will be born male, and only a 35 per cent chance they’ll be female.

            That means in-game birth rates are historically inaccurate in favour of men.

            Funny that.

            WHERE ARE THE MASS COMPLAINTS ABOUT THIS?

            Oh right.

            Last edited 25/09/18 4:56 pm

              Because it isn’t really a birth rate, it’s a character generation rate - and historically in that period the vast majority of generals were male.

                Oh fuck off mate, the article already fucking refutes you crybaby snowflake point
                And so do the fucking game devs

                Fucking half the factions CANT EVEN HAVE female generals at all because the devs ARE making it grounded in history

                But to have it realistically only have less than a single percent of generals or family relationships have women means most people would never see one

                Plenty of time balance is tweaked so a player actually gets to see a game feature, rather than realitically never happening

                Think about any of the rare units that in reality wouldnt be in most armies that people usually have in total war, all the cooler shit is so cool wed never actually have them in real armies

                So you can fuck off with your pretend outrage mate and just admit you snowflake sensibilities were stepped on because you have such a fragile worldview where people with boobies AND Swords scare you

            Look not that it's the most offensive or damaging implementation of it, but wanting to see the exclusion of, or diminishment of females is surely a pretty good working definition of "anti-women", in context.

            I'm not calling you some misogynist or something but I am curious: to what extent were you paying attention to the presented gender of the players in these games before women were introduced?

              I'm not calling you some misogynist or something
              And yet the first line of your post claims that anyone against the changes are 'anti-women' in context, so...?

              Women have always been in R:TW and R2:TW - but not as generals, so I haven't paid much attention to the gender of generals because it makes sense. I'm also not opposed to historically significant women being added. But random female generals doesn't gel with being 'historically authentic'. This is CA trying to have their cake and eat it too. Personally I couldn't care less because I don't find R2:TW anywhere near as engaging as the first game, but I can see why some people are upset at the new change, and it isn't mindless women hating despite how badly Kotaku wants it to be.

                I didn't claim that anyone against the changes are anti-women, I said that by definition wanting to see the exclusion of, or diminishment of females is an inherently anti-women position. That's just a statement of fact, not opinion.

            No they can't.

            It's a game with levelling systems, percentage bonuses and elephants that walk in to pike walls instead of running away like bitches.

            It has never been historically accurate.
            The only reason to oppose women generals is the same reason they opposed female fighters in Battlefield.
            They don't like women.

            Giant displays and XP notifications for kills are okay, but by golly is it immersion breaking to have breasts near a leadership position or weapon.

        You can apply that argument to any change, including bug fixes. Can't I argue that I bought Skyrim for the bugs and complain about it when Bethesda fixes a bug I like?

        That's all very good, but for practical purposes there was no change.

        However, the actual arrogance of the statement itself is an indication of the attitude of game development companies towards their player base...and CA is not alone in being arrogant, and disrespectful.

    I feel like this is going to be a constant battle from here on our.

    Battlefield V and now this game highlight the 'dangers' of apply equality to games set within a historical context. It's also far to say that changing the ratio via a patch and not within a new title was inviting such a reaction.

    There is some valid discussion to be had in regards to historical revisionism and should gameplay equality trump authenticity. Unfortunately, if I believe if you were to try to have that type of discussion civilly, it would be dogpiled by the extreme people on which either side disagreed with you.

      Yes it is going to be a constant battle. That is what men thought when the first woman could vote and every other social change in the world. Yet it is still so much fun watching people get upset and vocal about something so unimportant to how the fabric of such games play out. The world didn’t collapse when CoDWw2 had woman a year ago, the game sold fine and is still going well. Just like the world isn’t going to end when these games came out, no matter what all these downvoters think will happen.

      Please don't think I'm being a smartarse, I'm saying this in good faith. But is there really that much valid discussion to be had in regards to historical revisionism? Surely by virtue of the fact that it's an interactive enterprise where the outcome can be influenced by the player, we're already in the territory of revisionism?

      I accept unreservedly that there is a long tradition - one which pre-dates videogames - of using games to model or remodel historical events. What is Risk if not a rudimentary attempt at modelling history, after all? And I accept as a result of that, that some players derive pleasure from authenticity - I know a few history buffs who really enjoy the experience of going (this is a made-up example) "If I re-stage the Battle Of Arnhem as realistically as I can, it will be fun to see if the outcome is the same".

      I guess what I don't accept is that the inclusion of female generals constitutes a degree of revisionism beyond what is already happening by virtue of it being a game in the first place. I'm not familiar with these Rome games really, but unless there's some parameter within the game that says the gender of the general will significantly alter the outcome of the game, it's really no different to portraying a historical figure with a moustache when contemporary illustrations show them without one, or having the characters speak English.

      Last edited 25/09/18 8:38 pm

      It's very simple. Never preorder a game, and when a company makes a "Our way or the highway" comment, you walk away and play something else. Hurt their pocketbooks, like they ask you to.

      No, there is no valid discussion to be had with historical revisionism in a title that magically allows generals to boost the damage of spears.

    Reminds me of a certain WW2 shooter that was delayed recently.

    Ah review bombing, one of the most ridiculous forms of protests in the digital age. Heavens forbid you use your words to review a game for what actually is and how it plays, when you can just bomb a game because you don’t like some form politics.

    In this case: the historical detail of these games has always been questionable to say the least. If you have time to notice a female general leading your troops, then you aren’t spending enough time with the tactics

      Review bombing really is the only way a user can show a developer dissatisfaction post-purchase.

        yes but that is my point, they arent reviewing the game, they are reviewing politics and the company involved.

      Its not just review bombing though. Its going further than that, where they're starting to demand she gets fired, merely for doing here job and the audacity to give an explanation they didn't like. In this case, confirming the historical authenticity rather than accuracy.

      Whether they're successful or not, demanding someone gets fired has become part of the tactics for whatever game people are ranting about, and its effective.

      Review bombing a 5 year old game isn't going to do much, and is harmless. Getting someone fired isn't. There IS a victim.

        When is and isn't it OK? Because we've probably seen more barracking for people to get fired on public forums and social media in the last 12 months than ever before. Some cases are legit, some have been nothing more than witch hunts. And it's from both sides of the political spectrum.

          The line? you dont know where the line is? hhmm let me think, maybe start with demanding a games developer get fired because their idea of fun doesnt match your idea of fun?

          Hint: it is never okay. It is the ultimate in first world problems. The hilarious part, is some people seem to not understand, the person they think are responsible for the whole thing, arent. Most game dev teams, are teams, making decisions for both internal and external reasons. So while their may be a boss, they might be trying to juggle many different and conflicting things.

            Sorry, I was referring to the other times it's happened recently. The line seems to often be whoever arms themselves first and yells the loudest.

        A victim who is defending herself and her company by moderating the commentary. Let's not forget that little gem...

    So basically a bunch of toxic little men masquerading as historians.

      If the women were portrayed in bikinis it's unlikely they would be protesting, right?

      I'm a historian... A literal history teacher.

      I really don't give a shit about it. The games fucking awesome, it deserves to be played for what it is. If the mod if available for those hung up on 'historical accuracy' then good for them. If people like me, who aren't really bothered by this, are willing to play it and have fun and enjoy a great game, that's great too.

      But, if these same people are going to pretend this is all about 'historical accuracy', they should be bothered you can't send 8 year old boys to the front lines for the roman soldiers to relieve themselves with, as pedophilia was tolerated under the Roman empire for young boys (but not young girls) as it was seen as part of education to their life.

      Now, this is disgusting for sure, but you know, if they're hung up on *historical accuracy* and all, I guess we should really ask *how* historically accurate they want their 'battle simulations'. Because this was common on the battlefields, in the camps etc. Drawing a long bow there, but hey, if we wanna go absurd, let's go absurd.

      Although women were generally banned from military service, with very few exceptions, it's not like this is really going to cause chaos and destruction... so why don't we tone it down a bit. After all, it's just a fucking game.

        Dude, I don't think anyone is saying they want pedophilia in the game. The people are complaining about anachronisms. They'd be complaining about stuff like letting Spartan armies have archery units. I mean, bows were around at the time, but Spartans didn't really like using them.

        I think having faction leaders be women is fine, as it was also relatively commonplace historically, but having female generals, when they were extremely few and far between (with a couple of exceptions) is a bit off-putting in terms of immersion.

        Like you say, it's just a game, but I guess people can get upset about their favourite things. I wouldn't judge them for it.

          No, noone wants pedophilia in the game at all. It's a historically accurate aspect we can do without, losing it doesn't change the gameplay in any way shape or form that's going to matter. Just as the choice of General in the game really isn't unless you're going for that absolutely historically accurate aspect. In that respect, I think the company SHOULD include however, a mode to pay tribute to historical accuracy and a mode to allow such inclusivity. There has to be a logical middle ground for people to meet on.

            I don't know if you've played it before but Crusader Kings 2 does something similar to this, it added in a few mystical elements to what is generally a historical game and before you start the campaign it pops up a window asking you what you want turned on or off.

            This means that if you want fun little events about finding the holy grail etc you can have them but if that ruins your historical immersion you can switch it off. There is also an option to have your laws on women be set to Historical or Free, with historical women aren't eligible for most jobs outside of certain cultures but with free women can be rulers or do anything else from the outset.

            I think its a really great system and manages to keep everyone pretty happy.

              I think that's a fantastic idea and it caters for everyone. I would love to see this incorporated into the TW series.

    My only issue with this is nothing to do with the sex of the characters, it's that we are starting to allow historical revisionism creep into society.

    And for things like this it's small, it really doesn't matter or change the game etc. but where are we/who is deciding where the line is between OK and not OK historical revisionism?

      It's not a historical text, it's a videogame. You wouldn't assume there were Zombies in WW2 because you played COD would you?

        But that’s a separate mode, the core element of COD’s WW2 games are somewhat based on history. It doesn’t show female airborne troops jumping into Normandy because that didn’t happen, for example.

          While there weren't any female paratroopers in the Normandy invasion itself, there were female paratroopers deployed by several countries (England and Poland coming immediately to mind) in the days shortly after. It's really the smallest of stretches to extend that to the D-Day invasion itself.

          Of course, most of the people that complained about that don't actually know WW2 history, so it seemed to them like a much bigger jump of belief than it really is.

            These are exceptions, not the rule, and you know this. I was using an example to illustrate the flaw in the post.

              Games are built on exceptions, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that a game decided to include one.

                It’s a non-sensical inclusion. Can you give me a list of famous female Roman generals?

                If the dev wants to do stuff like that, that’s fine - but they can’t claim any kind of historical authenticity in that case. Similarly, people who liked the game for that historical authenticity and feel that is broken can complain without accusations of misogyny.

                  Why would we need a list of female roman generals?

                  RepublicOfPlay posted a video of his findings, pointing out that only certain cultures—Romans not among them—can even have women generals

                  did you misread that part?

                  @beatsbynelly Yes sorry I did, I haven’t touched R2:TW in ages, and I’m on mobile so I had to skim parts of the article, so I’ll retract that. Might as well change it to “Egypt” for all the difference it makes.

                  As beats pointed out, the Roman factions don't get female generals. The factions that do have historically had female front line combatants in the past. The Romans' own records showed that the Goths, Lusitanians, Cimbrians, Ambrones, Brigantes and others all fielded female combatants if not commanders. It wasn't that uncommon among Rome's enemies.

                  @zombiejesus ...or maybe the Romans fought glorious battles not against standing armies but against villages and towns where every man, woman and child would take up arms to defend themselves? History written by the victors of course. Not having a dig at you, but I am curious as to the accuracy of military records, particularly given some more recent historical examples of revisionism.

            When did Polish paratroopers operate in Normandy? When did the Brits paradrop women into Normandy?

            Serious question, I'd like to judge your credibility...(and source)

            Last edited 26/09/18 12:57 pm

              I didn't mean they operated in Normandy, sorry if that was unclear. I mean countries deployed them (in any theatre) at essentially the same stage of the war as Normandy.

              The Polish woman I was thinking of was Elzbieta Zawacka, who was paradropped into Poland in September 1943 as part of the Cichociemni. She was posthumously promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, one of only two women to hold that particular rank in the Polish army.

              As for the British, what came to be known as Churchill's Angels were reasonably well known. Britain recruited a ton of women to the Special Operations Executive, essentially trained as special forces (a combination of combat, espionage, sabotage, guerrilla skills, etc.) and paradropped behind the lines both before and after D-Day. Andree Borrel is one of the first I think, dropping into France in September 1942 where she built resistance networks, but met a grisly end when she was captured by the Gestapo and executed by means of acid injection followed by being thrown alive into a crematorium furnace. From memory there were about 80 women dropped in total over the course of the war, but if you search 'Churchill's Angels' you should be able to find references to some of the better known ones - in particular, Nancy Wake, a New Zealand-born Australian SOE member who was awarded, among numerous others, the Companion of the Order of Australia, the then-second highest tier of the Order of Australia (currently the highest).

              I have a vague recollection of the Soviet Union deploying female special units by parachute as well, but I haven't been able to find names on a cursory search so take that as unsupported unless/until I find where that thought came from.

          Whether or not it's a seperate mode is negligible. I'm saying mainstream videogames isn't the place to learn history. Soldiers also didn't respawn on the battlefield or heal damage when they hid...

            Those are gameplay concessions, not aesthetic choices. You can be grounded in history without making people march for a month across a barren desert to die within the first 5 minutes of contact... this is an absurd argument.

              No it isn't. A game is a game is a game.

                So your argument is that due to some concessions that must be made for the media, any other concessions are A-OK?

                I guess we can apply the same logic to video/film since editing concessions must be given to it anyway and print media since lack of imagary is a standard concession there...

                So essentially there's no need to ever stick to historical (or any other) accuracy in your world as one concession just begets another...

                  Yes there is no need to stick to historic accuracy for games, especially when that's clearly not a priority for the developers as they stated here.

                  People getting upset over this are the ones with the issue.

                  Also, my response was to the original poster who claimed this was revising history. My point was no one is claiming historic accuracy so to accuse them of trying to revise history is stupid, just as complaining about zombies in COD, or changes to history in Assassins Creed would be.

              aesthetic choices

              Don't you realise how this entirely explain what is happening here. The game didn't depart to be an absolute simulation of the Roman wars, it's just a theme to dress some mechanics. There's some true history thrown in as well, because why not. It's absurd to pretend that a fictional, liberal and gamified recreation of history is "revising history".

              Also, on the matter of "revising history": why do you think games are the platform to protect and recreate history when history is littered with horrible events, painfully outdated ways of thinking and heaps and heaps of misery? Do we really need to offer the kids of tomorrow Harvest Moon: Cotton Plantation? Or wouldn't it be better to offer good lessons about life in the present? I think kids today benefit more from the message of a game such as this: "women are just as capable of being strong and badass as men", rather than perpetuating the ways of thinking from 2000 years ago for the sake of accuracy. That's the domain of history classes when such ways of thinking get dissected in context, not games.

          If a COD game did show female paratroopers in a WW2 setting, would that be enough of a departure from history to break the spell for you? Asking in good faith.

            Depends on the context but if it was in a setting where they had no place, then yes. On the other hand, I have no issue with Mecha Girl in Battlefield V because they gave up any semblance of historical grounding right from the outset.

      It's not revisionism, it's called fiction. You can play any faction and take over the empire, despite the fact it never happened in real life, but people (yourself included I imagine) don't seem to have much problem with that.

      As for where the line is: if it's fiction, the author can do whatever they like. Clean, simple, easy to understand line.

        It's more of a grey area than I line, I think. In many so-called 'historical' games you start in a historically accurate position and then use the mechanics to try and alter the historical outcomes (or replicate them). They aren't so much of a fiction as, say, letting your Roman legions use howitzers to bombard the enemy. In between those two examples, you've got stuff like (relatively) common female generals where historically they were rare.

      Where were all the complaints about this fact mined from the games code:

      YouTuber RepublicOfPlay posted a video of his findings, pointing out that only certain cultures—Romans not among them—can even have women generals, and there’s a 65 per cent chance characters will be born male, and only a 35 per cent chance they’ll be female.

      That means in-game birth rates are historically inaccurate in favour of men.

        I guess it's because historically even though women accounted for a much higher percentage of births (than 35%), they did not account for a high percentage of people in professions present in the game.

      Right. When it a woman is in Total war suddenly you care about historical accuracy. But not about the fact you can entirely change history, Like in Medievil TW2 i can make it so the Scottish take over all of Europe and defeat everyone in the crusades. Thats not historical revisionism but the mere presence of a woman is?

        One might argue that using the game mechanics to achieve an alternate history is the entire point of the game. Achieving anachronistic female representation quotas is not (at least for most people, I would venture to guess).

      Video games aren’t historical records. The idea that depicting female characters in a video game is tantamount to historical revisionism is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on the internet.

      Every single wargame is historical revisionism. Not one bit of what we played happened. It never happened the way it's depicted. We like to think it did, but not a chance. We don't see people shit themselves, piss themselves, we don't see people hide under corpses, we don't see people in a true fit of flight or fight. Instead, we get a recreation of what we *think* war would be like. I've seen war vets sit down and play war games, laughing at them and their inaccuracy, the things we think 'are accurate'. I've seen a guy who spent 3 years on and off in Iraq play Arma 3 and laugh at the bullet physics, which are touted as 'some of the best'. Everything is revisionism, everything. But it doesn't mean it's not damn fun. So let's keep some perspective. Games are great, but they in no way represent accurately the horrors of war and personally, I'm thankful of that.

    To me it's just lazy development for the sake of being inclusive. There are many ways to add diversity in games by integrating it into the story or gameplay. Crusader kings managed to add various sexes, sexualities and races while keeping it grounded in historical contexts. Sniper elite added women as resistance fighters.

    Female generals weren't a thing but they were in politics every so often. Women looked after the household and kept the family in line, men (being an expendable resource) done the dangerous jobs including war. Dangerous work also provided opportunity; risk Vs reward.

    Maybe adding them as spies, dignitaries or having a more robust political system would work.

    There's also a difference between gameplay and immersion. Gameplay can be adjusted for enjoyment, immersion grounds the enjoyment. When doing anything that tells a story you need to ask if what your adding strengthens or dilutes your narrative. This may be case of decreasing immersion.

      Actually you're spot on, why aren't we talking about what appears to essentially be the cheapest way possible for good PR, one days wage to a graphic designer and then put it out there knowing with the current climate of everyone arguing that it'll spread and without any real effort you are seen as a progressive developer.

      Female generals WERE a thing though. Not in every culture, but in some, and that's reflected in the article.

      only certain cultures—Romans not among them—can even have women generals, and there’s a 65 per cent chance characters will be born male, and only a 35 per cent chance they’ll be female

      The 'crime' is that ratio, and thats it. Why is it wrong to inflate the female portion of the ratio to roughly a third? Even then, only where there is a record of females doing that job?

      People are arguing that its a political move to have female generals at all, when history shows there were females in those roles. So representing them ingame is authentic. If the ratio is inflated, that means its not accurate, but its still authentic to have them.

      People don't seem to like that answer though.

        Good rebuttal. Done some research looking at Eastern and middle Eastern nations and I'll concede the argument about women generals.

        Also this point, which the article points out:

        YouTuber RepublicOfPlay posted a video of his findings, pointing out that only certain cultures—Romans not among them—can even have women generals, and there’s a 65 per cent chance characters will be born male, and only a 35 per cent chance they’ll be female.

        That means in-game birth rates are historically inaccurate in favour of men.

        But I don't see howls of outrage about this from these people?

        I WONDER WHY?

        Last edited 25/09/18 5:00 pm

          What are the possible professions for characters born in the game? And does this list of professions exclude many (like nurse, midwife, housewife etc) which are traditionally female-dominated? No outrage needed in my opinion. Just the developers using a shortcut to achieve an outcome. You could achieve that same outcome by having a 50/50 birthrate but have most of the women disappear 'behind the scenes' as they did historically.

    "If you don't like it, don't play it" is just never a good response from a game company's representative. Regardless of the reason, context or intent behind the words, it will be used against you by people whose only goal is to attack you.

    That said this seems like a strong knee-jerk reaction from a lot of people who have heard inflated numbers based off only a few examples. This probably wouldn't have become newsworthy if the moderator response had been a little different but I can't blame the mod for that. Community management for games is increasingly becoming like walking a damn tightrope these days and it's getting harder and harder to avoid doing something like the example I've given above where what was probably a quick off the cuff response turned out to be ammo for whatever side is feeling wronged this week. It's getting to the point where I feel like community managers need to be licensed negotiators/psychologists that get about 4x the pay they currently get.

    Last edited 25/09/18 4:23 pm

      Eh, I kind of like that they aren't taking keyboard warriors shit. Telling someone you're ok with them not playing your game is fine in my book. Not everything is made for everyone.

      I love Spider-Man but if a Spider-Man product comes out I don't like I don't start attacking creators. These guys are arseholes and no one should bend over backwards for them.

        Amen to that. If douchebags are gonna demand EVERYTHING is made to cater to them and them alone, developers should always freely say "well fuck off then".

    People who make games should be able to make them however the fuck they want. Doesn't matter if it's "historically accurate" or not.

      On that note then they shouldn't get hounded by "games journalists" for not including politics and diversity they want either.

        Agreed. If we're going to say they can make games the way they want, the hounding should not happen. There should still be conversations of inclusiveness, but there should never be what is tantamount to online pressure and hitpieces towards companies that don't kowtow.

      Agree 100%, however its worth pointing out that this is a series that is strongly based on reflecting history. So there needs to be some level of authenticity.

      To the developers credit, there is. Its one of their selling points. Accuracy comes after that and should be at their discretion, but authenticity is something they need to consider.

      If they threw China into the mix for example, theres no history to back that up, so it just doesn't work. But Scotland was there, so its authentic to include them. What happens then is just the game being played.

      This is true.

      And while we're at it, Bioware is perfectly free to abandon their old RPG fans in favour of chasing after those sweet sweet Destiny loving shooter fans.

      Oh, and also, Bethesda is allowed to dumb down their key franchises however much they'd like in order to make it less daunting to the casual market.

        This is true. But grown-ass adults should act like adults and vote with their wallets, not review bombs, smear campaigns and doxxing. Especially if it's ideologically driven, regardless of what side of the fence is doing it. These arsehats that are turning my favourite hobby into a warzone and making us all look bad need to grow up and shut up.

    Total War games are historically authentic, not historically accurateThis is a good distinction to make. If it was 100% historically accurate, you wouldn't be sitting on your arse, playing on a screen using little sticks and buttons in your hand.
    You'd be outside in a field, waving a sword around and bleeding to death when you make a single mistake.

      Total War: LARP. Coming soon to a VR headset near you.

    some players decided to dig around in Rome II’s database. YouTuber RepublicOfPlay posted a video of his findings, pointing out that only certain cultures—Romans not among them—can even have women generals, and there’s a 65 per cent chance characters will be born male, and only a 35 per cent chance they’ll be female.

    Along with the little explanation about why the figures were boosted (so most players at least got 1 or 2 females in their games), this is really all that needed to be said. There's nothing overly dramatic going on here, Women aren't ruling over every army or anything like that it's just a small chance that some generals will appear as femals - which is accurate anyway.

    I can kind of get why people might have been getting annoyed about it, especially with the aggressive way the developer seemed to react to it initially but in reality it seems like a non-issue to me (though to be fair it would be a non-issue to me either way as I don't really like the Total War games anyway)

    I love this stupid idea that the mere appearance of fake women in a fake history = RADICAL LEFT WING POLITICS.

    It's before 9am and I'm already groaning at the internet. Happy Wednesday everyone!

    Any time the discussion flares up again (and again and again and again and again..) over whether the gamer community is inherently sexist, it always immediately answers itself when the sexist assholes come out in force to prove the point. Seriously, this entire issue is grounded in one thing: way too many guy gamers hate women as anything other than eye candy. If they say anything else, they're lying.

    How... bizzare. People get offended for the strangest things

    POPCORN JEEVES! POPCORN! This threads on FIRE

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