It seems like female soccer fans and players can finally rejoice because they are finally being recognized by one of the biggest video game companies in the business. EA, the developer of the Madden and FIFA game series, are finally adding the professional women’s soccer teams to FIFA 16. The FIFA series has been a major video game series since the 90s when it was first released. In addition to soccer, EA has included American Football and hockey to their company’s lineup. What’s so special about girls teams being included, you may ask. Well, in the twenty years that this game has been going on, with a new, updated game released each year, there has not been any inclination to add women to the game until now.
Like another gaming company that received flak recently for saying women were too hard to animate, EA blames the lack of women on the fact that they didn’t have the right tools to differentiate between the sexes, but it’s “been on the to-do list for a while.” Ubisoft’s comments last year, which sparked a trending hashtag, may have pressured EA into stepping up their game. The company took the time to scan the heads of National players and they had the players, like Sydney Leroux, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe, do motion capture so that the game would have their unique likenesses and playing styles. It seems like just as much care has been put into adding the women’s teams as it has been for the boys. However, only twelve teams—Australia, Brazil, Canada, China PR, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, USA—are available to play and only in the Offline Tournament Mode and Online Friendlies modes, not on any of the competitive or career modes. At least it’s a step forward, albeit a small one.
Support for the inclusion of women has been overwhelmingly positive. People have taken to twitter to show their support, shouting from the rooftops like, “OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING TO EVER HAPPEN I MIGHT START PLAYING VIDEO GAMES NON STOP NOW” or calmly declaring their joy by saying, “I am so happy that they now have women players in FIFA #WomanPower.” Even the players themselves have shown their support. Stephanie Houghton from England’s national team tweeted: “Finally it happened! @EASPORTSFIFA include me and my @england teammates in the new #FIFA16 Can’t Wait! ⚽️ “ along with a picture of her avatar that shares her likeness. Overwhelmingly, the positive comments have been from women themselves, but this isn’t surprising as it was women who were loudly demanding the inclusion of the women’s national teams through petitions.
Despite the shared sense of girl power, haters crawled up from the depths of the internet to lament feminism in video games. On one message board, user futhead_Alby9841 said, “The gameplay is perfect but no tits? and booty? 😦 Wtf EA.” Two other users from the same message board posted, “yesssss cant wait to play with women! – said no one ever” and “Fifa 16 career mode: 9 months out due to pregnancy!” And that’s not even sifting through all of the rage-inducing tweets complaining about the alleged “feminist agenda” in video games in general. The comment sections and message boards are very toxic spaces for women. It’s like men think by adding female characters where there were none, the game is now ruined. It’s not like a woman, Abby Wambach, doesn’t hold the world record for international goals for both women AND men soccer players with 182 goals. Or that the US women’s team is more competitive than the Men’s US team. With announcements like these, you just have ignore the hate and just focus on the good, because this is definitely a Good Thing.
Starting June 6th, the Women’s World Cup will be premiering in Canada. The US team plays their first match against Australia on June 8th. This World Cup promises to be just as exciting as the men’s last year, if not better. And the US team is one of the top contenders. Tune in to support!
This article was written by Halley Dewey, a writer for dusk magazine.