CoD: Ghosts to Include Female Combatants, but Reality Did It First

Follow Mark Burnham on Twitter: @MarkBurnham

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.

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10 Comments on CoD: Ghosts to Include Female Combatants, but Reality Did It First


On August 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Gotta have memory for that ‘realistic’ jiggle physics if you’re gonna include women, dontcha know?


On August 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Haha, seriously? Earlier today I read about HL3 not being developed because they can’t sync mo-cap with facial expressions, and now this. What am I missing?


On August 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm

When you add in all those special effects and physic into play for the boobs to bounce and to have a jiggly butt act exactly the way a girls should we find are selves faced with engine limitations.

I think that is what he meant to say.


On August 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Paraphrase ” Blah blah our crap decade old engine couldn’t handle adding tlts to our character models”

More like it would have required a tiny bit of work, which wouldn’t fit in with the COD business model of rehashing the same shlt over and over again, changing nothing.

And now the new game is exactly the same as the old ones, but with an engine that only looks like its seven years old as compared to ten.

Get used to it, because you’ll be seeing COD: Ghosts for the next decade of the new console cycles. More of the same exact crap over and over, without any real change.


On August 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm

….Is this guys for real? I was playing mods for both CoD 1 and 2 that added chicks in. Just tell us your lazy if thats the case.


On August 16, 2013 at 10:48 pm

They finally have the “technology” to add females characters and yet they still put the flag backwards on the uniform of the guy in your screenshot. . . .

All joking aside, why is it that so many people in the games industry seem to be one step behind reality when it comes to social issues?

Did we not spawn from a culture of nerds and outcasts seeking acceptance from others?
And yet I see the “geek culture” as a whole becoming more and more exclusionary and divisive than ever before.

Face Palm

On August 17, 2013 at 2:50 am

There were women in Black Ops 2 as well. That didn’t make the game any better, nor is there a single intuitive reason why it should in Ghosts. But hey, it gives you another opportunity to spout self-indulgent tripe about gender issues, so who cares if the game itself uses the same sodding engine every year?

Mark Burnham

On August 17, 2013 at 11:56 am

@Face Palm

“nor is there a single intuitive reason why it should in Ghosts.”
Why isn’t it enough that people have requested it? According to the Activision CEO, it’s a highly requested feature.

Red Menace

On August 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm



On August 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I wish every(or at least more) game had the option to roll female characters. It’d be a small step towards solving the gender related social problems which sadly still exist no matter how “advanced” some people think we are. They are just less visible especially because its not “cool” anymore to talk about them(kinda like in the middle ages actually…) .

BTW even from an utterly selfish male perspective I still can’t find any problem with it. Unless you consider a game in which you can see badass(and most of the time attractive) chicks beating/shooting/stabbing things less fun than a game without them.

I think everybody wins with female PCs one way or another.