Carly A. Kocurek, PhD - Games, Scholarship, Media

Casual Thinking. Serious Gaming.

Modes that are more realistic than Girlfriend Mode

Category : Gaming, Gender, Representations of Gaming Aug 14th, 2012

There has been a lot of discussion about John Hemingway’s flippant use of the phrase “Girlfriend Mode” to describe a beginner-type mode available in Borderlands 2. In particular, David Wildgoose’s piece “‘Girlfriend Mode’ and the Definition of Sexism” is worth a read, and I’m very fond of “Girlfriend Mode vs. Girlfriend Metal” by Natalie Zed. I don’t have a lot to add to that particular aspect of the discussion. These writers, along with others, have done an excellent job of explaining exactly what is wrong with Hemingway’s comment. Given that Girlfriend Mode” doesn’t even exactly explain the mode Hemingway was talking about, which is intended to let players of different skill levels play together and is actually, adorably, called “Best Friends Forever,” I was thinking about alternative modes that might actually tell something about how women experience or interact with the broader world.

Hey Pretty Lady Mode  During interactions with nonplayable characters, every nonplayable character will provide commentary on your avatar’s physical experience. Time spent engaging with these NPGs negatively affects your character’s health levels and may encourage the NPGs to continue trying to distract you, but if you ignore or avoid them, they will chase and harass you, which has a more acute impact on health levels.

9-5 Mode You must complete the same tasks as any other player, but you will be rewarded only a portion of the points. Your options are to play twice as hard, or to complete additional minigames to make up for the points shortage. Minigames sold separately.

Legislative Mode As you are playing the game, your access to game levels and in-game weapons and tools gradually decreases.

Mommy Mode You must complete the same tasks that any other player completes while caring for 2-3 very demanding nonplayable characters who follow you everywhere. No matter how you care for these NPGs, you will be criticized relentlessly by other characters, reducing your health levels, and bad things will probably still happen to the NPGs due to game circumstances beyond your control.