FIFA 16 makes an overdue stride forward

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Celebrating EA Sports’ inclusion of female teams in FIFA 16 is somewhat like praising a broom for sweeping: acknowledging the presence of remarkable female athletes shouldn’t have taken this long.

That being said, the franchise’s decision to finally join us in the 21st century is promising for the future of female professional sports.

For the first time, EA Sports will include female players from 12 national teams in its latest FIFA game, which is set to release this Friday.

An often-levied concern is that this is no more than a one-time marketing ploy playing off the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and not a new direction for female athletics.

Regardless, EA Sports’ acknowledgement of the profitability of the growing market for female athletics means that corporate profit-making and social progress can, for once, move hand-in-hand.

Even if EA Sports is simply taking advantage of the hype of the 2015 Women’s World Cup — the final was the most watched soccer game in history in the United States — the existence of hype is a better sign for female athletes than they’re accustomed to.

In the past, female sports have received the short end of the stick.

For example, the seventh FIFA Women’s World Cup, despite a lawsuit filed by a number of players, was played on artificial turf.

And even though FIFA awarded $35 million to the winning male team of the 2014 World Cup, the victorious female team received only $2 million.

While including female players in a video game might not change much, it could be an indication that the reality of the game is already changing.

Moreover, the inclusion of women in FIFA videogames provides a visible role model for women whether they aspire to become athletes or not.

Displaying female athletic talent can have a remarkable impact on young girls, encouraging women around the world to participate in a career field that constantly underestimates them.

Similarly, the creators of the FIFA 16 game also heavily emphasized realistic game play, using motion capture techniques to make the athletes move, run and play like they do in real life.

Considering the level of difficulty the video game industry has had at times in making certain parts of the female anatomy behave realistically, having strong, relatable and true to life characters in the game can only be beneficial.

Ultimately, 12 female teams, regardless of the reasoning behind their inclusion, is better than none at all. 

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