There were black Germans in Battlefield 1‘s multiplayer. People frowned, laughed and snickered at the prospect, but a few historians would chime in on the comment section to say that it wasn’t entirely inaccurate. However, Sledgehammer Games is taking it a step further, allowing gamers for the first time to become black female Nazis in Call of Duty: WWII’s multiplayer.
Sledgehammer Games’ co-founder Michael Condrey told Eric Kain from Forbes…
“[We] wanted our players, regardless of gender or ethnicity to feel they were represented in Multiplayer. The Call of Duty soldier you customize and play as should be a representation of you, your avatar in MP, and that soldier can look however you choose. Allowing players to take themselves into battle, whether assigned to the Allied or Axis factions, was a strategic decision which we believe strikes the right balance of fun and inclusiveness.”
This follows behind recent Call of Duty games where players have been able to customize their avatar in the game. Treyarch was the first to introduce customizable male and female avatars in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 campaign mode, and it was one of the most psychologically thrilling and dramatic campaigns ever featured in a Call of Duty game, proving that custom characters in a campaign mode does not automatically equate to diminished story quality.
The follwing games weren’t quite as ambitious as Treyarch’s outing, but did still afford players the option to customize their characters in the multiplayer mode.
Sledgehammer is following suit with customizable avatars in multiplayer, even if it means playing as a black female Nazis on the Axis side.
Eric Kain makes a even argument for and against Sledgehammer’s push for more diversity in the multiplayer, and it’s not too dissimilar from some of the community criticisms that arose regarding the early impressions about Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s campaign story mode. Since then EA has been mum about it but expect more details to surface leading up to the game’s release.
Another big change Sledgehammer made for all versions of the multiplayer, is the removal of Swastikas. According to Condrey…
“First, these are visceral experiences that are as much social and competitive as they are historical depictions of the conflict,” […] “Including Nazi symbols wouldn’t bring honor, nor be appropriate, without the rich history of a WW2 story to ground their context in Multiplayer.”
The Swastikas will be present in the single-player campaign for every region except for Germany, where Swatiskas are illegal and cannot be displayed in media as a glorifying or propaganda symbol. However, Swastikas will not be present in any version of the game’s multiplayer.
According to Condrey, they had struggled on whether or not to include Nazi symbolism in the game, stating…
“We’ve wrestled with the topic of Nazi iconography, including the swastika, throughout the course of development,” […] . “It’s a fine balance of not glorifying the symbolism, while also not ignoring or shying away from this dark moment in human history. There’s certainly a line that we are very conscious not to cross, while still honoring the sacrifice of those who fought to push back the world from the brink of tyranny. In short, it’s not something we take lightly.”
The issue of Nazism has only become a mainstream topic of discussion again due to Social Justice Warriors in the media parading the term around against any ideological opponent that disagrees with their sociopolitical agenda(s).
Sadly developers now have to walk a fine line on how they depict certain issues, terms, iconography and topics in games lest they get attacked for having the wrong politics.