Thanks to Title IX, and the continued focus on the value of athletics globally, sports like ice hockey now have a loyal base of female fans and athletes. But if you played any of the video game versions of those sports you would never know women and girls played hockey, let alone video games. That’s because in-game avatars in games like the EA Sports NHL series, for example, are fully customizable so long as you don’t mind being represented by a man.
That’s about to change, thanks to a letter from 14-year-old Lexi Peters of Buffalo, New York. Lexi, a hockey fan and gamer, wanted to know why girl gamers couldn’t create avatars that actually looked like them. So she wrote a letter to EA Sports to find out.
In her letter Lexi pointed out that it is “unfair to women and girl hockey players around the world, many of them who play and enjoy your game. I have created a character of myself, except I have to be represented by a male and that’s not fun.”
EA responded and told Lexi it couldn’t add female avatars to the game because the National Hockey League has to approve all changes. But somewhere after that response Lexi’s letter made it all the way up the chain of command. Impressed with Lexi’s letter, and persuaded by her reasoning that it is just bad for business, a change was made and now EA Sports will add female avatars to NHL 12.
Not only will Lexi now have a female avatar to use as a character base, EA asked if it could use her likeness for the default female player. NHL Lead Producer David Littman called the letter a “wake-up” call for the business who was completely ignoring a growing female gamer audience, let alone the growing number of female hockey players. According to Hockey Canada, roughly 5000 women in the country played the sport in 1990, compared to more than 100,000 today.
EA Sports NHL 12 comes out in North America on September 13 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Photo from BillBrine via flickr.