“Gender-Neutralizing” Call of Duty

Female Call of Duty

I’ve never been a big fan of the Call of Duty series. Not because it’s bad, but because I just haven’t really played it. I am completely aware, however, of its reach and popularity with the gaming public generally and the military gaming community specifically.

That’s why I found it interesting when it was revealed that the next generation of Call of Duty games will include playable female characters in what is considered to be one of the more “realistic” combat shooters. As an aside, if you want an “ultra-realistic” version of combat, try this. Or at best, play Mass Effect.

I assumed that the decision to include female fighters was Infinity Ward’s way of responding to the rescission of the combat-exclusion policy, or the recent test runs by the USMC to start allowing women to try out for infantry.

Turns out, the reason was actually technological.

Apparently, the game engine has to work overtime if there are different “models” being drawn onto the screen at a given time. If there are only “male models” then the processing power is less. Adding “female models” eats up double the processing power.

Well, it looks like they figured out how to address that and now women and men can kill each other without slowing things down. Additionally, the developers ensured that even given the female character’s slighter frame and size, there is no competitive advantage to choosing to play as a female.

“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.”

In other words, Infinity Ward found a way of integrating women into the virtual combat arms of Call of Duty without changing the standards.

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