The folks over at Activision unveiled the multiplayer for their upcoming game, Call of Duty: Ghosts today, with a big and important announcement:
There are now playable female characters.
What this means:
The most obvious statement to make here is that Call of Duty is no longer just DudeMurder. It’s no longer so exclusive to Dudes.
This is big. This is an industry changer.
Women have been playable characters in games in general for a very long time, and they aren’t even new to FPS games. Metroid set the stage years ago, Halo and Gears of War both beat Call of Duty to the punch, and with games like Mirror’s Edge, Last of Us, and Remember Me dropping in recent years, female protagonists aren’t a strange sight to see. However, games such as Lollipop Chainsaw, Wet, and Bloodrayne didn’t exactly help, and playable female characters have never been included in the multi-player of Call of Duty.
Let me stress this further: Female characters have never been playable in the most popular mode of one of the most popular franchises on some of the most popular consoles in recent years.
Now, there are a number of problems with the presentation thus far. The women characters shown in the reveal and posted around the internet sport some kind of eye-shadow. This isn’t a super bad thing, characters in Ghosts multi-player mode will be customizable, after all. However, it’s just interesting to me that even in virtual space, when eye-shadow should be the last thing these avatars should have thought to bring to a firefight, there it is, making those polygons look extra attractive on the big screen.
In addition, there is the little way that Activision is going about the reveal. This is a big, important moment. Female playable characters in Call of Duty! This is a moment where Activision and Infinity Ward could really stand out there in front of their fans and critics and say, “Look, we have listened to what you have to say! We agree! We should have done this years ago!” Instead, excuses are made.
“Our previous engine would not handle that. The way memory worked in the previous engine, it never would have been able to do that.” This is what Ghosts executive producer Mark Rubin told Kotaku. He also mentioned that it’s important to the company that players have the options to customize their character the way that they want. Yes, that’s great. But that’s not really what this is about. The inclusion of female characters shouldn’t have been done simply so people could play as female characters. It should have been done because that’s the way it is.
The fact that there are women is as prevalent as the fact that there are men. It should be a standard, not a feature.
There are some concerns. This might make women more of a target when it comes to harassment online. Xx420juggalo420xX and all his friends aren’t going to be happy that there are women all up in their DudeMurdering. But I feel like it’s far more likely that the culture will change. It won’t be as much of a shock to hear a female voice over the headset.
By finally including this long desired option, Activision is sending out a ripple effect that is sure to influence the gaming industry as a whole. Other FPS games take mechanics from Call of Duty all the time. Now they are sure to take playable women and add them to games like crazy.
This is a good thing! This is a great thing! This shows that Activision is listening to its fan-base it’s open to expanding said fan-base and it’s not afraid of the backlash from its existing fan-base.
Video games shouldn’t be a boys’ club. Females as a playable option should be as common as males as a playable option, and at this point, it’s 2013. There can’t be any more technological excuses.
This is a great move for Activision, for gaming, for gender equality.
I look forward to the future.
Geoff Girardin is a freelance writer from Connecticut who just got married to the most gorgeous woman ever and is currently stockpiling Star Wars baby clothes for his future kids. You can follow him on Twitter @geoffgirardin and read more from him at geoffgirardin.com.