Why Female Soldiers Were Finally Added To Call Of Duty's Multiplayer

Why Female Soldiers Were Finally Added to Call of Duty's Multiplayer

There is no great suffrage movement to credit for finally enabling players of the world's most popular first-person shooter to kill each other as female soldiers. For better or worse, that's not how these things tend to happen in video games. Certainly not this time.

With the announcement of playable female soldiers for November's sure-to-be-a-blockbuster Call of Duty Ghosts, the long-running gender barrier in CoD multiplayer finally shattered today, thanks to....advances in technology.

Adding female soldiers was a matter of adding a new feature to the game, one that the creators say wasn't technically possible before.

See, the folks at Infinity Ward, the studio behind the game, decided that, this year, they were finally going to let players customise their characters. They were going to let them change their heads and bodies.

"We really want players to feel more connected and engaged with who they are as a player," Ghosts executive producer Mark Rubin told me earlier today. "We felt that that was something that casual players, who are a huge portion of our fan base, would benefit the most from.

"Our fan base is huge. We cover such a dramatic range of people who play our game that we wanted to be as inclusive as we possibly could with character customisation. And that's where the idea came from. Why wouldn't we have a female [option] then?"

The chance to play female soldiers has been for Call of Duty multiplayer has been just that: an option not offered. While other popular multiplayer shooters like Halo and Gears of War added female character options long ago, CoD has stuck with only letting you be a man, multi-million-selling annual release after multi-million-selling annual release.

Why Female Soldiers Were Finally Added to Call of Duty's Multiplayer

What took so long to let players finally play as women?

"A lot of it was the engine," Rubin said, referring to the tech that runs the game. "Our previous engine would not handle that. The way memory worked in the previous engine, it never would have been able to do that." The "that" he's talking about is the ability to run a multiplayer level that is populated with players who have complex custom looks — looks that include the female look.

"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 customisation," he said. "That then gave us the opportunity to do female characters."

Crafty CoD players may be jumping at the chance to play as a female soldier under the supposition that the average woman might be smaller than the average beefy Call of Duty trooper. That would make her a smaller target and therefore a preferable character.

Forget about it.

Women and men are the same size in the new Call of Duty. That bit of equality is due to simple video game fairness. CoD is all about your character shooting other characters while not getting shot, after all. It'd be an advantage to be shorter or skinnier than other player-characters and a disadvantage to be shaped...differently.

"Even on the female characters, we can't make them smaller," Rubin said. "They have to have gear on them that makes them the same size as male players. We need to be fair. It has to be fair from a gameplay standpoint." As a result, the female soldiers may appear to have slightly differently-shaped bodies, but the areas that count as their bodies as far as the game's bullets are concerned will be the same shape as men's. "They might look differently, but they'll fill the same area so that your hit-boxes aren't out of whack."

There you go. Don't thank any major social movement for getting female fighters in the game. Thank technology and game balance for letting you finally be able to play as a lady soldier in Call of Duty. Can't put that on a half-dollar, but, hey, progress is progress.

To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected] or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.


    I call bullshit, lumping in something as basic as choosing which gender to play as under "character customisation" is nonsense. Pokemon has let you pick your gender since the GameBoy Colour. It would have been EASY for their engine to handle a male and female model, but he's lumping in all the rest of the added customisation into that statement claiming the old engine couldn't handle it. There's no reason they couldn't have done this sooner.

      The developers of the game did not want to at the time.

      Seems like a good enough reason to me...

        If you read the article, yknow, they say it was due to technical limitations.

          I did read the article. I know they said it was because of technical limitations. However, "There's no reason they couldn't have done this sooner." my statement was a reply to you, not the article.

          As I said. The reason it wasn't done sooner, is because they didn't want to do it.

            And what I'm saying is, that's conjecture, there's no evidence for this in the article and you're just saying that with no proof.

              Okay then. They wanted to do it, but their engine couldn't handle it at the time.

      there's a significant difference between the models used in CoD and the sprites used in Pokemon.

      firstly, a sprite is nowhere near as intensive as a 3d model, and Pokemon was a single-player game, so you never saw the two sprites together at the same time, the computer didn't need to remember both sprites an their accompanying animations, it only needed to remember one at a time, CoD needs to remember every player in the game, it needs to know what they look like so it knows what to display, that shit takes up a lot of space.

      and yes, they could have done it sooner, but it requires significant retooling of the game engine anyway so that it can handle it, and as it were that wasn't a priority for them in previous games, there's no sense making large changes to your engine just to display a different gender character in multiplayer, large amounts of work for minute changes, but since they decided they wanted to add customization they're gonna be giving those sections of the game an overhaul anyway, so there is now no reason not to add female characters, essentially the whole process has become much more efficient and worthwhile when they decided to add customization.

        You have no idea how game design works, do you? This comes down to a single variable that the game can check for each player, a single 1 or 0 that tells it whether to display a male or female model. It's not difficult at all. Since the hit box is the same they don't even have to worry about that. It's just load this texture and model and skeleton, or that texture and model and skeleton. No significant retooling of anything. The "significant retooling" they mention above is in reference to the across the board character customisation, and yes, THAT takes a lot more effort, but a gender swap? Simple. To call it too much effort is to be calling the devs lazy.

          you have no idea how game development works, do you? sure telling the computer which gender assets to call wouldn't be hard but incorporating all the assets in a way that doesn't make the game an overly intensive load on the computer is difficult and would require significant retooling of the underlying game engine, you seem to think computers are infinitely powerful, but they aren't, you can only load so much at any given time, if the engine is only designed to handle so much in the first place it's not as easy as changing one number because you'll screw everything up, you usually need to change the entire way the computer handles assets and their implementation, because you know, a new gender could potentially double the strain character assets are placing on the engine. and since one of CoDs advertising points is graphics they would be ill advised to drop the graphical quality to compensate the additional genders assets.

          I never said it was too much effort, it's just a lot of effort to go through for something so low on the priority list, CoD isn't exactly an RPG now is it. so in the future how about you don't post unless you know what the hell you're talking about.

            I haven't played CoD since number 4, but that had a different model for snipers in multiplayer? And Perfect Dark on the N64 had full character customization.

            I know nothing about programming, but blaming the engine kind of smells like bullshit to my untrained nose as well..

              it does sound that way, but with these things it's usually the tiny things that end up being way more trouble then you'd think.

              and there are slight differences between the in-game models, from what I recall CoD likes to add small random deviations between characters, or at the very least differentiate based on class, but a simple mesh swap is usually not too hard, provided you know your limits, but when you add female characters you essentially double the load, particularly if you want to keep the same amount of character deviation.

              in fact a character customization option could potentially offer a less stressful system because you can have more interesting combinations with less parts due to the human factor.

              but think of it like this, the game has to remember every asset on the field at any given time so that it can call them up, the more it needs to call the more it will lag, doubling the character assets with the addition of gender puts added strain on that, since the CoD engine is pretty old, albeit with upgrades, it's not naturally designed to handle modern day graphics.

              on the other hand some old engines have been shown to provide beautiful graphics in a modern day setting, so it's not a good idea to compare two engines when in most cases they are different enough to void any comparison.

    Lemme guess, this is one of the only new CoD "features" that people will be shelling out top $$$ for.

    "We felt that that was something that casual players, who are a huge portion of our fan base, would benefit the most from"

    Ha! I knew it! They admit it! The CoD series isn't designed for gamers but for non-gamers! That's why it's hated so much by the gaming community, because it's not designed for them!

    Joking aside (not really :P ) my problem with this "announcement" is that they're making a big deal about it when the problem with women at their portrayal in videogames is they draw to much attention when they want them to think of women as no big deal.

    No wonder the game has largely been a copy and paste since CoD4, the engine can't even handle a goddam female model.

    "Not technologically possible"

    You have got to be shitting me. God these developers are so full of it. This is the same excuse they used for not being able to do weapon DLC. A few months later and there's DLC for new weapons.

    Last edited 16/08/13 10:59 am

      lol i bet EA would totally sell the female soldier as a separate DLC if they could

      but they didnt in fear of sexism outrage claims

        Absolutely, equality and political correctness are the only things EA has going for them. Not that it works, it generally pisses people off at the obvious ploy to get them to not hate them more than it pleases homosexuals.

    His excuse that the engine not being able to handle it is a load of bullshit.

    He says that the engine couldn't handle multiple character designs in game, uhh well fuck me, it does that already. Each character class uses a different model. The only thing you would have to change, is make female versions of those models, and let the player choose to be male or female. it is simple, and easy to implement. They are just blowing smoke up peoples asses.

    While I do agree with him, that the COD engine is a piece of shit. I wonder if they will EVER get a NEW engine. Like fucking seriously.

    They have also had total weapon customization for a long time now, meaning the engine was having to deal with different weapon variations for every single character in the game.

    Last edited 16/08/13 11:15 am

      i do agree with their hitbox issue though

      i for for one would prefer to play lara croft with included jigglies
      than play she-man master of the universe

      Last edited 16/08/13 11:35 am

    Reskinned release after reskinned release and only now can the engine handle another reskin. Who knew?

    I don't think it's that big of a deal that previous titles didn't have the option for female characters really (it's hardly the only game with an all-male playable cast), but why come up with shitty, nonsensical excuses? Just say that the idea to include female characters came with the idea to add greater depth in personal customisation, and that's the end of it. Why bullshit? Tell it like it is.

    Last edited 16/08/13 11:32 am

    i bet at the end of the day, half the people playing the female characters will just male anyway

    He is probably thinking from an AAA standard. If they just threw in a female skin on a male body and said this is your female character, people would be up in arms that they are making a joke out of it and not seriously considering females properly.

    So I will side with the guy, technology is certainly apart of bringing things to life especially female hair and adding complex polygons to give models curves.

    As for the posters above me, I've never seen so much whine...

    Cool now females have the right to get shot in the head... wooo freedom

    "We cover such a dramatic range of people who play our game that we wanted to be as inclusive as we possibly could with character customisation. And that’s where the idea came from."

    THAT'S when you finally thought of it?

    **slow clap**

    They needed to wait until technology caught up with their Booby physics engine.

    How horrible is the engine that it can't handle two different models at the same time?

    Goldeneye 007 had multiple character models.

    Obviously its garbage.

      It's an old old engine and has definite model limits.
      I used to work on mods for COD 4/5 and trying to add an extra weapon was nearly impossible.
      Same with mapping. That's why maps on COD with the current engine will never have massive landscapes like in Battlefield.

      COD 4 was the last major engine update. Everything after has been incremental

    While is is complete bollocks that "The engine couldn't handle it" It is understandable that it would have taken an incredible amount of work to add women as playable multiplayer characters of which, up until now, would have had little perceived benefit to the game/profits.

    Firstly they'd have to double their multiplayer character art assets. Then they'd have to build a separate rig for animation as the female body is different and moves differently than a male's, then of course they'd have to animate. Then finally, and worst of all, they'd have to reconfigure and test all components of the game that interact with these character models to be sure they function both correctly and the same as all male models for the sake of balance.

    Also, although women have played a large part in military conflict throughout history to today; the military is still perceived as predominantly a male institution. So adding female soldiers would have done little to enhance authenticity for the layman. Add the fact that CoD type games are still considered to be played mostly by men and I can certainly see why Activision had no imperative to even the playing field.

    I wonder if Infinity Ward/Activision knew having the option to play as a woman would have this big of an impact on the internet for debates. This will get more sales due to it. If so, good form Activision

    Last edited 17/08/13 7:49 am

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now