There are now Girls In This Man's Game

Illustration for article titled There are now Girls In This Mans Game

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.

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"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.

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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.

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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]


You can contact Luke Plunkett, the author of this post, at plunkett@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

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DISCUSSION

Yes it's so unfair that a league that does not allow women to play or that no women have ever really played in, doesn't allow females to play them as part of fantasy.

I'm all for breaking down barriers and I agree if we are allowed to make some ridiculous male avatars, why not have females on the custom player screen. But I don't like the way the article makes it seem so offensive. While a number of females do play NHL, I think EA did a survey and found that 95% or more of the people playing their NHL games were male.

As for Manon Rhéaume, she was a failed social experiment by Tampa Bay trying to break down barriers. She played exactly 1 period in a pre-season game against St. Louis where she let a goal in within 2 minutes of being on the ice and letting in 2 goals in 9 shots total before she was removed and let go from the team.

I don't mean to sound as harsh as I do, but she plain sucked and was 5'5 and half and barely 130 pounds and most of the people playing in the period against her, said they were afraid to go hard at the net and instead just took slaps from afar.

She played in the NHL as much as Billy Crystal played for the Yankees in MLB.