Thursday, September 25, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

From the Black marine at the opening of the co-op trailer revealed yesterday, to the woman wearing the vicious looking Head Hunter mask, gender and racial representation in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare tops almost any other game that I’ve ever seen before.

Sure, you have your Commander Shepards, your Skyrim avatars, and your Destiny Guardians, but Advanced Warfare doesn’t simply open the option to adjust skin tone, there are preset races and sexes present throughout both the campaign and the multiplayer.

There’s something about seeing a game taking the time to model characters from different races by not just sliding the color slider to dark, but rendering hair texture and modeling facial features so that they don’t simply look like the early black Ken dolls in the 90’s. There’s also something about watching women look totally badass with big guns, and decked out armor, duking it out in this high octane military shooter.

People were all to cynical about Call of Duty: Ghosts’ proud reveal of enabling players to customize their soldiers as female characters, often scoffing it with, “Well it about fucking time.” But I ask them, “How many military shooters featured female avatars at the time?” Not many.

Activision and Sledgehammer seem to be making a conscious decision on promoting the fact that they have such a diverse representation. It’s no mistake that we’ve seen so many women and blacks in all of their trailers.

This not only proves that there is growing recognition that players are mixed in both sex and ethnicity, but it also proves that the illegitimate fear of social awareness in games has zero negative impact on the titles themselves, both indie and AAA. Here is Activision’s most lucrative franchise representing minorities and women. Later this year, one of Ubisoft’s most successful franchise will feature a non-white lead whose heritage comes from the Himalayas. Neither decision compromises the fact that both Advanced Warfare and Far Cry 4 look fucking awesome.

It won’t be long before we get a lead in a AAA game who’s a Hispanic or Asian woman. Some may argue that Mirror’s Edge’s Faith fills that slot already. 

Image courtesy of The Independent 

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