Damn Right Women Should Be In CoD: WW2
In the vicious figurative firefight that is the blockbuster FPS genre, the Call of Duty (CoD) franchise has its back firmly to the wall. Call of Duty has already come under fire for its latest flops in the inauthentic ‘Advanced Warfare’ and ‘Infinite Warfare’ games where jetpacks and laser guns abound, but they now face a fresh bombardment with their upcoming title ‘Call of Duty: WW2’.
Naturally, a return to origins is a clear statement from ActiVision, publishers of the CoD series, and one that is eagerly welcomed by fans. With Battlefield 1, set against the backdrop of WW1, a roaring success, the CoD makers have finally decided to ditch the futuristic narrative and return to CoD basics. The first three titles (and the later released World At War) took the CoD name from obscurity to synonymous with FPS, and all chose WW2 as their backdrop. Who can forget the stress of potentially giving away the Allied position in the Pathfinder mission or the absolute brutality of storming the beaches? Both these missions felt like a genuine part of the war, largely because they, like Battlefield 1, were based on real events.
And so the FPS genre has gone full loop, from WW2 to the Cold War to the highs of modern warfare (and lows of future warfare) and back again. Players want authenticity from a game series that now incorporates dabbing or brightly coloured gun skins. But these are superficial changes to mark unique player identity. Of more interest was Activision’s decision to include ethnically-diverse and female characters in various CoD campaigns and multiplayer of the last few titles.
But what to do with a return to past times? Do the female characters remain?
During WW2, the vast majority of fighters (save resistance fighters) were men, whilst the women occupied the roles of nurses, farmers and weapon makers; a no less important role in the war effort. The mere suggestion that women will appear in the newest WW2 themed CoD has caused quite an angry stir on Youtube about the apparent ‘ActiVision agenda’.
It is a supposed ‘Marxist-liberal-leftwing-progressive-agenda’ or any other derogative used to label changing times. Indeed, one can sympathise with their anger. By including elements of modern society, such as ‘black female Nazis’, you deauthenticate, dehumanise and disrespect those who died in the war, over 60 million people.
But it’s essentially a null argument. ActiVision, and Sledgehammer games (the makers), have already stated that the campaign will honour the dead by keeping as much authenticity as possible, so much so, they’ll keep the Swastika; to illustrate the barbarity, not offend. And that’s the important distinction to be made, between campaign and multiplayer. As with Battlefield 1, the campaign was gritty, informative and a good reflection of the war, whilst the multiplayer is a different kettle of fish entirely.
Thus, the CoD: WW2 campaign will give an immersive, authentic and highly respectful campaign story of the war – i.e. events-centric – whilst the multiplayer will be arcady, fun, player-centric and WW2 themed. ActiVision and Sledgehammer have clearly thought long and hard about the balance between authenticity and player fun. It’s why multiplayer avatars can have different ethnicity or gender or play against zombies or yell triumphantly after every ‘kill’ for that matter. Those who call for authentic multiplayer need to reevaluate their priorities. Why are they so desperate to play as a blue-eyed, white German soldier for authenticity-sake, but turn a blind-eye to wholly inauthentic tropes such as killstreaks, massive ammo cartridges and multiple weapons?
And so the inclusion of women in multiplayer is clearly not one of a ‘politically correct agenda’ but of marketing and revenue. And why blame them? ActiVision, as well as the gaming industry in general, have a huge untapped audience in the other half of the population. If you still want something to be angry about, turn your anger to that ol’ pesky capitalist market that keeps churning out entertainment of the highest quality year in, year out.
It’s nothing new either to see the gaming industry trying to appeal to the female population, with some reports suggesting female gamers are now the majority. The purists among you, and a point can be made here, will notice how the statistics incorporate a number of ‘platforms’ that although loosely fit into the gaming industry, are not ‘gaming’ platforms. For instance, the report claims 54% of the respondents preferred to play their games on their smartphones, which covers the likes of Candy Crush or Word With Friends.
And the same is true of the genres accepted in the report. A whopping 33% (compared to the second place 18% for FPS) preferred a trivia or puzzle based game. The report even allowed room for gambling based games (at 10%), and if CasinoEuro’s live casino website is anything to go by, their games are heavily female-oriented.
But this is only positive news for the gender disparity among casual gamers, and not the core gaming community. Gamers of this community would spend hours a week playing games on PC and consoles of which CoD is the archetype. Therefore, the more telling disparity is the number of core girl gamers compared to the gender marketing in the industry. Some 41% of women (compared to 59% male) are frequent game buyers and fall into the core gamer category. And yet there continues to be a gender disparity among the big FPS hitters.
Thankfully, it is shrinking, albeit slowly, as the gaming industry starts to take note of the female audience. But for all the well-intended gender inclusive marketing, it will never be enough so long as this jealously guarded male-only club ethos persists. And this stupid, blown out of proportion ‘controversy’ only hinders progress.
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