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Sledgehammer Games would like to wish everybody a happy Pride Month, especially our fellow LGBTQ+ players and team members. Pride is an important time of year for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate identity, reflect on history, and plan for a future of acceptance and human rights.
Although representation in video games might not seem as important as representation in areas like the workforce and the political system, sharing LGBTQ+ stories through video games is still an incredibly powerful avenue to shape people's perceptions and build toward a more accepting society. Simply put, representation matters, and we aspire to apply this philosophy to everything we do.
This Pride Month, we want to reflect on LGBTQ+ stories at Sledgehammer Games —both real and fictional. Taking place in a WWII era, the stories told in Call of Duty: Vanguard happen during a time when remaining invisible was a common survival tactic for the queer servicemen and women who served. Despite this, over time and through many mediums, their stories have been illuminated. Inspired by this part of LGBTQ+ history, we saw an opportunity to tell two stories through our multiplayer Operators whose identity is a core part of their story.
Although these are fictional characters, they truly matter to our team and our players, and we want to tell you all a little bit about them today.
Meet Constanze Muller
Constanze Muller is a German woman who, while in Poland, fell in love with a woman who was fighting for the Polish resistance. Together, they joined the Special Operations Executive and supported the Allied invasion by sabotaging the German defensive line.
Although there were no explicit laws against gay women in Nazi Germany, lesbians were still expected to conform to strict gender roles. Women who were unmarried and did not have children were subject to propaganda and social pressure, and that included gay women.
Constanze’s experience of feeling ‘out of place’ among her peers is what led our narrative team to realize Constanze‘s identity. Several of the writers on Vanguard are queer women, and they related to Constanze’s disconnectedness and uncertainty. Constanze’s creative expression through hobbies like painting and sewing was also inspired by our narrative team’s own experiences of queerness, in addition to historical research into what young women experienced growing up in Germany in the 1930s. Constanze’s story celebrates LGBTQ+ identity by connecting the historical experiences of women with the modern diversity of our writer’s room.
Meet Thomas Bolt
Thomas Bolt is a Canadian man who grew up in Spain. He’s a hardened soldier, having served in both WWI and WWII, but his in-game cinematic also shows that he is not afraid to admit fear and vulnerability— especially to the people he loves.
The script for Thomas’s in-game cinematic was shared internally before it was recorded by our voice actors, and one of the reviewers from our ABK LGBTQ+ Employee Network expressed that working on Thomas’s story was a ‘profound experience’. Researching the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people during the WWII era reveals the way our own identities are built on the ‘benefits and sacrifices made by the generations before [us]’, and this history is important to preserve so that we do not forget the journey we are on as a community.
Thomas’s story was inspired by the personal journey of one of our writers who wrote Thomas’s story in the midst of figuring out her own identity. Thomas was deliberately designed to be a confident leader who was courageous in his identity as a gay man, to help her learn how to adopt that same brave persona in her own life. Thomas is a strong and caring person for anyone who needs him: his squadron, his partner Bradley, and any of our players who need reassurance that it is okay to be exactly who they are.
Developing these Operators was a personal and insightful experience for our team. This Pride Month, we encourage you to take a moment to reflect on how the games you play influence what you think about the world and how you feel about yourself. We can’t wait to continue sharing our stories with you through this medium we all love.