How has this not already happened?! Females make up almost half of the gaming population so it seems like a no brainer that companies like Blizzard, EA Sports and so on would dedicate half their production to female oriented games. Well sadly it isn’t happening this way, but it looks to start changing over the next few years.
A 29 year old Floridian female by the name of Fernanda Schabarum started a petition on Change.org to force EA sports to start including women soccer players in their video games.
FIFA is the most successful sports video game series of all time and has so far sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. FIFA 12 holds the record for the “fastest selling sports game ever” with over 3.3 million games sold and over $186 million in its first week of release. This data makes it one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
However, none of the FIFA games gives gamers the option to choose female teams or players. Here’s the thing, in the United States over 40% of soccer players are girls, according to the Department of State on Fernanda’s petition. In fact, soccer is the most popular women’s sport in college and female soccer stars are more well-known in the US than men.
Did you know the US national team has won two world cups, and four Olympic gold medals including just recently in London at the 2012 Olympics? Well yeah, they did, and that should be talked about more often!
Fernanda tells EA “By offering just men’s teams as playable options on FIFA we’re not only denying these girls a chance to relate to the characters they play on a video game, but we’re also wasting a great opportunity to encourage those same girls to be who they are, develop their passion, motivation and promote a healthy image and relation between women and sports.”
“Young girls can’t be portrayed by male video game characters. We want them to be able see themselves in the games they love, as the soccer players that inspire them.”
While apparently petitions relating to video games don’t get much attention from the right people, this one certainly did. David Rutter, the executive producer of the FIFA video games series read the petition and got in touch with Fernanda, who is originally from Brazil, is passionate about soccer and is a psychologist.
He told her “Every year, a vast quantity of suggestions for inclusion comes into our studio. We have to whittle it down to what we can make in one year. It’s a case of prioritizing what needs to be done, and then we do our best to knock it out of the park in whatever we’re doing. But [women in the game] is always something considered in some shape or form, and it’s not to say it won’t ever happen.”
Fernanda did accept this response as it’s not about just rushing out something to please the girls, but doing it right in a way that will make it explode and inspire more girls to play the game. David Rutter said about Fernanda “It was nice to speak to someone who not only believed deeply in what she did, but who also has played the game.”
In the meantime, women’s soccer is getting more airtime on other platforms and more recognition in the media, with the news of a new documentary film about the US women’s soccer team winning the World Cup title in 1999 against China. The documentary, called ‘The 99ers’ was directed and produced by Julie Foudy and Erin Leyden who were also part of that winning team. It aired on ESPN on August 20 and was produced by ESPN films & espnW.
It’s part a series called Nine for IX which are nine female-lead sports documentaries being shown on the cable network over the course of a month. They feature women such as Venus Williams, Anna Kournikova, Basketball player Sheryl Swoopes, German figure skater Katerina Witt and explores the issues of women trying to be the best vs being the “sexiest” in order to get better marketing and sponsorship.
They played in front of a sold-out crowd of 90 000 people in Pasadena, CA, and an estimated 40 million Americans (possibly more around the rest of the world) tuned in to watch the girls claim victory. This shows there is a huge interest for women in soccer, and including them in such a high profile video game such as the FIFA series will only serve to inspire and encourage more girls to get into the beautiful game.
While it won’t be FIFA 13, we as well as Fernanda and many other female soccer fans around the world are excited for the day women are able to play with realistic video game characters that they can aspire to be like one day.