For the first time in the series, Call of Duty players will have the option of customizing the protagonist of their campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Breaking with the tradition of featuring multiple playable characters, Cold War has players assuming the role of a single main character and they can customize their skin tone, birthplace, military background, and, yes, gender.
Though players are free to leave aspects of their characters identity as “classified,” pronouns including “he/him,” “she/her,” and “they/them” will be on offer. Now everyone can commit digital war crimes as they truly are!
The game, which (if you couldn’t tell by the title) is set in the '80s, was seriously in need of some queer street cred after the developers at Raven Software decided to feature the reanimated corpse of Ronald Reagan, the man whose administration openly laughed at the AIDS epidemic and whose indifference towards the disease led a generation of gay men to suffer long, painful deaths. (Do I sound bitter towards Republican politicians to you? Good!)
Classified — America’s worst leader aside, Creative Director Dan Vondrak says he didn’t want any fans to feel excluded from the notoriously bro-y fandom. "So when it came to gender, that same thing was thrown out: Why can't we leave that classified? There's no reason we can't do that," Vondrak told journalists during a Q&A. "We were already gonna make it change to he and she so it was easy enough for us to use those different pronouns there as well."
Silent but deadly — This also means that the game’s main character will remain silent throughout the story, which Vondrak calls a “philosophical choice” after having many negative experiences with games in which the main characters’ voices broke his immersion. “I really didn't want that disconnection for the player,” he added.
Real-life action — The Trans community has been under fire in recent days by a White House hostile to their military service. This is despite the fact that Trans people are more than twice as likely as the general population to offer their lives to their country in service. A 2016 RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon found that allowing Trans people to serve openly in the military would "have minimal impact on readiness and healthcare costs." The study also found that Trans service personnel have "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness."
While I personally am uninterested in serving in the military, even digitally, it’s fantastic to see opportunities to include those who are. After preordering your copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, you can donate to the LGBTQ military and veteran non-profit Modern Military Association of America via its website.