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13/08/2012 08:15 BST | Updated 13/10/2012 06:12 BST

Borderlands 2: Gearbox Studios Developer Infuriates Gamers With 'Girlfriend Mode' Comment

A developer of Borderlands 2 has infuriated many gamers after describing a new, easier version of the shooter as "girlfriend mode".

John Hemingway, lead designer at Gearbox Software, made the comments to Eurogamer while on a studio tour.

The 'mode' in question takes the form of a fifth character class, where one early skill called "close enough" lets players with poor aim progress through the game.

Designed to help new gamers, and those who "suck at first-person shooters", Hemingway said the "girlfriend mode" essentially makes it impossible to miss a target.

"I want to make, for the lack of a better term, the girlfriend skill tree," Hemingway told Eurogamer.

"This is, I love Borderlands and I want to share it with someone but they suck at first-person shooters."

The description applies to the Mechromancer class, a punky woman with pig tails and a robot arm. The term 'girlfriend mode' is not used in the game itself, but his comments were received poorly immediately after publication.

Hemingway's comment comes after a succession of controversies in the world of video games and tech which have drawn fresh light on accusations of sexism.

They have ranged from concerns over the portrayal of an attempted rape in the new Tomb Raider game, to the continued presence of so-called 'booth babes' at trade shows and the unfair attitude towards female gamers when testing new titles.

UPDATE: The president of Gearbox took to Twitter after the accusations broke to defend Hemingway and the Borderlands 2 team.

Labelling the reporting of the "girlfriend mode" as sensationalism, he said that : "I didn't know it was a nickname. It's not even a thing - just a skill built from the idea of playing coop with noob friends"

He added:

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