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Edmonton woman called to duty to help create plot of latest ‘Call of Duty’ game

Click to play video: 'Edmonton woman called to duty to help create plot of latest ‘Call of Duty’ game' Edmonton woman called to duty to help create plot of latest ‘Call of Duty’ game
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As a kid, Shelby Carleton spent hours in the world of a massively popular video game.

Now, she’s helping create the best selling series’ next chapter which will be released on Nov. 5.

Carleton was hired by Sledgehammer Games as a narrative designer — tasked with writing the storyline and dialogue in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

After working on a number of indie games, the Edmonton woman was hired last March and began work on the title

The company had worked on previous titles of Call of Duty in past, and she had a suspicion she may be tasked with the latest iteration.

“When they told me [I would be working on the next title] I was very excited. I heard the pitch for the game and I was sold.”

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“Players will experience influential battles of World War II as they fight for victory across the Eastern and Western Fronts of Europe, the Pacific, and North Africa,” reads the game description.

Carleton has loved video games since she was a kid but said in recent years she has seen them in a new way.

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“I like to think of games now as empathy machines, things that allow you to step into a story and experience something you may not have otherwise,” she said. “A character’s perspective, a world you’ve never been to.”

The process of storyline and game design was described as a “huge endeavor” — she said Sledgehammer is a team of about 400 people.

“You’re allowed to give your own feedback and ideas. It’s thanks to the strength of the team that we can create [something like this]. You’re writing with all these other people and going through the room and talking about the script.”
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She hasn’t yet played the whole game through — and said the team plans to play the full game together.

“We were all working on different levels. So we want to get the full experience and talk with each other about how excited we are to see what it looks like,” she said. “I’m definitely attached to these characters.”

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Carleton and her team worked with historians, producers and other experts to help shape the narrative.

The gamer also helped shape another storyline — one that’s a rarity in the gaming world. Her team was equal parts men and women.

“That’s how it should be everywhere. I can be an example, but also my team and the company [can be an example] for the wider industry.”

The writer will soon move to San Francisco to be closer to the action — and meet her coworkers in person after months of remote work at her Edmonton home office.

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Now that she has completed this latest mission, she’s had time to reflect on the whirlwind experience.

“Video games…take all the lessons you can from them. I think games can teach us a lot about ourselves and other people,” Carleton said.

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