I recently learned about this and to be honest, this is the most ridiculous enforcement of speech that I’ve seen in gaming in recent memories. Borderland 3 is really out here threatening to ban people from their forums for not using the “correct” pronouns for a robot in their game. Yes, on top of being a fictional character, this fictional character is a robot who apparently identifies as neutral, yet has the vocals of a man!
So according to Forbes, which posted a blog talking about how Borderlands 3’s Fan-Favorite Vault Hunter Is Gender Neutral, the writer referred to FL4K as he/him in his past blogs and wanted to address it. Which, to be honest is pretty fair and understanding considering that the robot’s vocals is that of a man’s voice and thus, naturally that’s the pronouns that most people would go to without even thinking about it. However, as I continued to read the blog, I learned that Gearbox themselves have actively been using they/them pronouns when talking about FL4K, to signal that FL4K has no gender. There was also a post on their official forum page which confirms Gearbox’s intentions.
Now, once’s again, that is also a fair and accurate statement to some degree. Robots do not have the traditional two genders so they are neutral by default. However, once the robot starts talking or takes a shape that is commonly associated with one of the two genders, you can’t really fault people to just instinctively identify that robot with the gender it’s most associated with.
Now here’s where I have a bit of an issue with when it comes to this little statement made in their forums. You see, most gamers if you tell them information about a character’s bio, will take it as fact and will run with it. Trust me, gamers and nerds are very peculiar when it comes to accurately describing a character stats and info and staying canon to the source material.
My issue here is when to try to enforce something that’s realistically is not a big deal and frankly unreasonable. You can’t enforce speech like that, especially if it’s not derogatory or blatantly hate speech. For me I just found it odd. You made the character gender neutral, great! However, you can’t expect people to suddenly suspend their reality and enforce a pretty absurd rule in my opinion and call it representation. The reason why it struck me as odd is that this could be the first shape in really policing or forcing their own politics down people’s throats. I mean today we can’t refer to a fictional character as a dude in a forum, tomorrow in a voice chat you might be banned if you call someone’s character by a gender that they don’t identify. It sounds crazy, but we’ve seen crazier.
That’s my thoughts on it, let me know what you guys think of all this?