The Battlefield Fanbase Hits An All-Time Low
The story trailer for Battlefield 4 was recently released, finally giving us some info on what the characters are up to and the sorts of encounters we should expect from the trailer. It was exciting to see the dramatic set pieces and the focus on military solidarity. It also seems that the mysterious new female character joining the cast may have her own agenda, which is bound to create some deep plot points. I marveled at all of these things for a while and, perhaps naively, looked at the comments to see what other people found engaging about the trailer. What I saw truly depressed me.
Now, it’s a given that YouTube comments can often be toxic, especially for popular videos. Just a small look at music videos with 100 million views or above will show you the truly absurd things people can say. The gaming community is no different, and there’s been many examples in the past where toxicity was at insane levels. Yet sometimes, it doesn’t take death threats or dirty humor to make you disappointed in a community, it’s the subtle things. And in the recent Battlefield 4 story trailer, exactly that happens.
At around 1:36 in the trailer, one of the main characters of the game, a soldier by the name of ‘Irish’, punches an attack dog. This attack dog was a dog that was shown in the original BF4 reveal trailer entitled ‘Fishing In Baku’, where Irish in the beginning attempts to escape his pursuers and inevitably fights against attack dogs in the process. Yet seemingly, the BF fanbase and YouTube comments saw fit, en masse, to claim that the dog being beaten up was representative of Call of Duty: Ghosts’ dog ‘Riley’ and symbolizes how BF is ‘better’ than COD.
Ok, we need to just look at this as a whole. A dog, a fictional dog, in a military game being hit is apparently not only funny, but it’s representative of a completely unrelated game which has a dog. And apparently, this act of violence symbolizes the superiority of this game, and this was also apparently the work of DICE in their attempts to make shallow pot-shot at COD: Ghosts. I’ll stop being sarcastic for a second to point out how much this bothers me, and quite frankly how much it should bother you.
I’m no stranger to people on the internet being in competition over what they think is better; the Xbox One vs the PS4, Sonic vs Mario, Skyrim vs Dark Souls. The COD vs BF debate was fueled primarily from the perception that COD ‘never changes’, during the release year of Modern Warfare 3 in 2011. This was accentuated by DICE’s subtle stabs at COD in their ad campaign, with such slogans as ‘Above and beyond the call’, a military slogan that was perhaps used as an indirect slight. This slogan was oddly changed to ‘Feel the battle’ later on, for reasons unknown. The arguments were absurd, gamers threw mud at each at the drop of a hat, and people threw around the word ‘engine’ as if it was the Sesame Street word of the day. Fast forward two years later and, for the most part, people have had their fill of bashing COD, and BF4’s ad campaign has focused purely on its core experience. As a Battlefield fan, I was happy to see DICE go back to promoting what is good and exciting about the series, especially through the ‘Only In Battlefield’ YouTube video series. Yet, in a small clip of a story trailer, in an act that I’m sure was not intentional by DICE, the flames of online war have ignited again.
Thing is, I’m not a sensationalist writer. I’m not someone who demonizes fanbases, games or any media; I’m someone who tries to show the good in everything and promote fun entertainment. Yet as a fan of FPS, as a fan of Battlefield and COD, I can not say that I’m happy with how the Battlefield fanbase has been acting these past few years. It’s been bad enough that you can’t get far without someone saying ‘lol COD sucks, BF for the win’ even where it’s not relevant, but it’s even worse when you have to wonder if we’re even making sense at this point when punching dogs is a sign of superiority. You could call it a harmless joke sure, and truth be told there’s no controversy in the actual act of punching a fictional attack dog. However, for people, sane human beings, to claim that this dog is representative of COD: Ghosts‘ Riley and that it shows BF’s superiority, then you really need to take a look at some of the people in your fanbase.
Toxic comments will always exist. Dissent, hate, and rage will be common place on the internet for everyone to see. It’s hard to moderate trolls and it’s even harder to moderate what counts as abuse and what counts as civil conversation. But there’s a line that shouldn’t have been crossed that was crossed a VERY long time ago, and the worst part is that it’s not the minority, it’s the sadly overwhelming majority. The COD fanbase has its own share of problems with unsatisfied players always complaining about in-game mechanics, especially in multiplayer, people raging about the series on YouTube, and just general disdain thrown at the series. A lot of big franchises suffer from the same thing, with big FPS in particular such as Halo having a history of community problems (remember the long debates about reticule bloom?) and dissatisfaction with weapon balance. Point is, we’re losing sight of what’s important about games if all we do is compare them to others and say atrocious things to justify our reasons for liking or disliking them. When we start allowing things like this to go on, we stop being gamers and become just an angry mob.