CoD: Ghosts to Include Female Combatants, but Reality Did It First
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By now, you’ve probably heard that Call of Duty: Ghosts will include playable female characters in its multiplayer mode, a (sort of) first for the military shooter series.
I’ll admit my reaction to this was: “Oh, you couldn’t do that before? Weird. They’re in Halo, Gears of War, etc. Seems like a reasonable option.”
In fact, the choice to utilize female characters has long been a highly requested feature, according to Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg. “If I had a billboard chart of requests, this would be near the top of the charts of things we hear from our community,” he told Polygon.
So if this is a highly requested feature, what took so long? The answer, which Infinity Ward Executive Producer Mark Rubin told Kotaku, has some scratching their heads.
“A lot of it was the engine. Our previous engine would not handle that. The way memory worked in the previous engine, it never would have been able to do that.”
“When we got a chance to re-tool the engine completely, that gave us the opportunity to make the change that we could have character customization,” he said. “That then gave us the opportunity to do female characters.”
I think it’s fair to say this reason has been received with a high degree of skepticism. It just sounds a bit like hogwash. I needn’t list all of the different shooters that (somehow) manage to include all sorts of playable races, genders and what have you.
But it isn’t just Infinity Ward saying this. This is apparently a somewhat common technical hurdle, at least according to developers for series’ such as Battlefield, FIFA and Crackdown, who have previously noted the insurmountable technical challenges to including playable female characters. You can read quotes from those devs over at The Verge. And look, I’m not a game developer, but I think one of the richest gaming franchises in the world can accomplish anything if they choose to. If they can create fish physics that seamlessly move around scuba divers, I think they can map the intricacies of the female body.
Aside from technical problems, it’s worth noting that not every Call of Duty player on the planet would probably welcome this change. You need only read this forum thread for proof. As one poster notes, “Women are not allowed to serve on the battlefield as infantry.” This forum thread is from 2011.
Well, that’s not true anymore, and we may be seeing an interesting reaction to reality from Infinity Ward. In January of this year, the Pentagon lifted a nearly decade-long ban on allowing female soldiers in front-line infantry or combat roles. You can read the entire article for yourself, but here’s the money quote from Gen. Martin E. Dempsey regarding the decision:
“The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service,” he said.
So basically, gaming’s most popular military fantasy shooter was scooped by reality. It would have been more fantastical to not include female characters than to do so at this point.
Anyway, more choice is cool. Good work reality, and good work figuring out those graphix, Infinity Ward.
For more on Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer, be sure to check our complete breakdown of the of the multiplayer reveal held yesterday.