North Tonawanda schoolgirl Lexi Peters is 14 years old, and is a big hockey fan. So much so that she plays the sport. She also plays the popular NHL video games all the time, but was sick of her and her friends having to play as men. So she sent developers EA Sports a letter.
"It is unfair to women and girl hockey players around the world, many of them who play and enjoy your game", part of Lexi's letter said. "I have created a character of myself, except I have to be represented by a male and that's not fun."
I can certainly sympathise. My wife, a big Liverpool fan, wanted to play football game FIFA with me a few years back, but gave up when the closest I could get a custom character to resemble her was a skinny man with a funny haircut.
EA's customer service initially responded to Peters' letter in the negative, saying that any changes to the game would have to go through the NHL. While this bummed her out, what she didn't know was that at the same time, the letter had found its way to the desk of David Littman, the lead producer on NHL12.
And he loved the idea.
"Lexi's letter was a wake-up call," he told the Globe and Mail. "Here's a growing audience playing our NHL game and we hadn't done anything to capture them." So Littman got permission from the NHL to put women in the game, and when the hockey league agreed, in they went. Users creating their own custom characters will now, for the first time, be able to create either a male or female character.
Which was good news for 4-foot-11 Lexi, but better was to come: to honour her contribution, EA got in touch and have based the default female character on her likeness.
If you think this sounds like a bizarre piece of marketing, know this: In Canada, the game's heartland, there are 100,000 women playing ice hockey. Canada has also supplied the NHL's only ever female player, former Tampa Bay goalie Manon Rhéaume.
While this may not be on the cards for Madden any time soon, surely EA Sports can now do the same for its FIFA series, given there are one or two women playing football on planet Earth?
Girl wins bid to play virtual self in NHL video game [The Globe and Mail]