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Escape From Tarkov devs say they respect female soldiers, still won’t add them to the game

Game’s spike in popularity lead to a rediscovery of an interview from 2016

Units from the BEAR paramilitary organization, based on Russian armed forces, take up position around a new heavy weapon added to Escape From Tarkov. Image: Battlestate Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The team behind hardcore survival shooter Escape From Tarkov are walking back comments one of its team members made about women in the military, but still refuse to add them to their game. The comments come roughly one week after the game rocketed to the top of Twitch.

Western audiences first heard about Battlestate Games’ Tarkov in 2016, when the Russian team released an annotated gameplay video on YouTube. That video has since been pulled down. That same year it also granted an interview to Wccf tech. That’s when they were asked if they had considered adding women to the game.

“We came to the conclusion that women are not allowed to be in the war,” said Pavel Dyatlov. The interviewer persisted, stating the fact that women are currently serving in combat roles around the world.

“I can agree with you and we discussed it for a very long time,” Dyatlov said, “but we came to the conclusion that women can’t handle that amount of stress. There’s only place for hardened men in this place.”

Of course, Russia has its own history with women in the military. Hundreds of thousands served during World War II, for instance, and received numerous combat citations. They served admirably in virtually every branch of the military during that conflict, including the infantry, armor, and air corps.

As of last night, Battlestate Games concedes its employee’s comments from 2016 were ignorant of these facts.

“Regarding the 3 years old article with points about women in EFT,” the team wrote on Twitter. “The answers were done by one, not a key BSG employee which probably were misinterpreted and as a result didn’t reflect the official position of the company, that we always respected women in wars and military women.”

“[Dyatlov] was reprimanded and properly instructed,” Battlestate added in a subsequent tweet. “We are sorry for caused confusion.”

They went on to add that there are still no plans to add female avatars to the game “because of game lore and more importantly the huge amount of work needed with animations, gear fitting.”

Their comments are reminiscent of a similar statement by an Ubisoft creative director in 2014, who said that adding female assassins to games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise was simply too much work. Their most recent effort, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, includes both a male and a female main character and is among the company’s most successful titles to date.