Gizelle Hurtado
Graphic and UX/UI Designer

Preferred SQUADS

An enjoyable, nontoxic, inclusive space within the Call of Duty Companion App.

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Role: User Researcher, UX Designer

Tools: Adobe XD, After Effects, Procreate, Adobe After Effects

Team: Ava Arshadi

Design Challenge

Activision tasked us with redesigning their Call of Duty companion app in order to attract current and new players and to create a sense of community through the app.


My teammate and I decided to focus on the Call of Duty female audience. From our observation and research, we came to the conclusion that for female gamers the gaming community is not a very welcoming environment for them especially in the Call of Duty community that is known for its toxic players. So we thought, how might we be able to use the companion app to create a more inclusive environment for female gamers and to help them find a community they feel safe with.


How might we create an enjoyable, nontoxic, inclusive space for female Call of Duty players using the companion app?


We created a rating system called Preferred Players where players are able to rate each other as Preferred and Not Preferred. Those with a high Preferred rating are able to access a locked Preferred SQUADS feature where they are able to form groups to play with. Those groups would contain like-minded, good-natured players.

Preferred SQUADS
Preferred SQUADS

Product Review

This was actually my first experience with playing any game from the Call of Duty franchise. I am a fan of first-person shooter games but COD has never really appealed to me. Although I did have some enjoyable times getting familiar with how the game works and playing with friends, this is not a game that I would personally play on my own. As far as using the game along with the companion app, I do not think that there was a time that I opened the app while playing COD or just to check my stats. This got me thinking that there is definitely a need to think of a way for users to open the app more often.

Secondary Research

My teammate and I conducted some secondary research. We both focused on looking up and reading articles on the experience of female gamers and on what causes aggression and toxic behavior in players.

According to our research, we came to the conclusion that the main reasons players engaged in toxic behavior when gaming is:

  • The player is already an aggressive person in general.

  • The player is aggressive due to the competitive nature of the gaming community.

Preferred SQUADS


In order to further understand what different experiences female gamers have gone through, I took to forums on Reddit pinpointing the posts that speak on toxic and negative behavior from other players towards women. It was concerning to read about how many women are scared to so much as speak on mic or for other players to know they are women for fear of being harassed and degraded. One woman spoke about her experience while playing COD and how she got reported for topping the leaderboard “because girls don’t play video games.”  One man took to Reddit to speak on his wife's experience while playing COD while on mic. His wife was a victim of vulgar verbal abuse which in turn put her off from playing. 

Some women however have taken it upon themselves to take action against these abusive players. On female gamer has created a clan tag, [N.LOG] (meaning “Not Like Other Girls”), to give other female players peace of mind letting them know that there is another woman in their lobby that will support and stand up for them in they are targets of toxic or verbal abuse.

Target Audience Interviews

I interviewed women that have been playing video games since they were young and identify as female gamers. From these interviews, I found that most of them prefer to play with their friends instead of strangers so that they can avoid the constant harassment that comes with being a female gamer, especially when playing on mic in a multiplayer game. These women have also expressed that they have been harassed and degraded so often while playing video games that they have just accepted it as part of their gaming experience.

Preferred SQUADS

Concept UI Design

Concept Video Presentation

Our midterm presentation on our concept, Preferred SQUADS, that we presented to the Activision stakeholders.


Preferred SQUADS