Events in recent months has seen the revival somewhat of the argument as to the treatment of women in video games. While I don’t necessarily think video games or their creators are sexist in nature, I do think that some developers cater blindly to a male centric audience. I’m not saying that video game creators should be forced to always cater for everyone in place of expressing their artistic freedom, but I do think certain games can definitely start being more open. In this particular instance, I’m looking at FIFA 14 and asking whether it’s time for EA to introduce female football/soccer players into the franchise.
While gaming is still a mainly male-dominated form of entertainment, the number of female gamers is certainly rising all the time. Undoubtedly, these gamers will also have sporting interests. It’s why sports based games sell well, because sport fans want that simulation in their living room. I have no doubt that female sports fans would feel the same way too, if they had the opportunity to play the female version of those sports. I see no valid reason why this can’t be accomplished in FIFA games, seeing as how very little needs to be changed from the title to accommodate female players.
FIFA games tend to have many, many leagues around the world represented in-game. How many of us actually play all of those leagues though? Very few I’d wager. I don’t think I’ve ever touched an Argentinian, Mexican, African, Swedish, Russian or a host of many other leagues in FIFA. Those leagues and teams are still there though because of the worldwide appeal of FIFA. People from those countries and continents will most likely want to play those teams, as they are close to home and are fans of those clubs. So why can’t a female league be introduced too? I mean real leagues, for instance introducing one league modeled after the FA Women’s Super League here in the UK. Like the cases above, maybe many won’t play that league, but surely there’s a market there that would, just like there’s a market for the Swedish league.
It would be even better if EA allowed inter-mixing of male and female players. While that isn’t reminiscent of real world football, it would be fun. Career mode could allow you to furnish your team with male and female players, creating great diversity. The female players themselves can have stats similar to their male counterparts. I haven’t followed women’s football much, so maybe there aren’t players the likes of Ronaldo or Messi, but so what? Some male stats in FIFA games are bloated anyway, so there’s no reason the female players can’t be given good stats to challenge the male players. I can of course understand that some people will want the simulated experience within career mode to closely resemble the real world, so perhaps it can be an option to allow inter-mixing of male and female players instead of it being forced. But at least provide the option instead of not at all.
The other component that would greatly benefit from the addition of female players would be Virtual Pro mode. While I probably wouldn’t play the women’s league games (hell, I haven’t played league matches in FIFA games in ages), I could definitely see myself creating a female player in Virtual Pro and using her online. Virtual Pro mode relies less on real world simulation in favour of personal growth with your chosen player. It’s a very RPG-esque mode in the game, and all good RPGs with character creation options tend to have female characters as viable choices. Virtual Pro would be a great mode to implement this feature in. As such, I feel that inter-gender matches would be even more likely and indeed highly suitable in Virtual Pro mode.
In conclusion, there’s no reason for EA to not cater to the female sporting audience. This must surely be the next big step for FIFA games and hopefully FIFA 14 will be where it starts. Separating the female version of the sport into its own game would be too costly and have an uncertain marketplace. Plus, it’s always more fun to have more content in one game than to spread content out over many games. Perhaps the inclusion of female players and leagues will draw in a bigger audience too. It’s certainly a market that has no competition at this moment, thus EA would reap the sole rewards. Here’s hoping FIFA 14 is where it begins.