EA Sports has announced that it will be following the UFC’s lead in allowing female fighters to compete, by adding select female fighters to its upcoming EA Sports UFC.
Just because a sport involves a few female stars, or, indeed, if it involves an entire female division, doesn’t mean that those women will necessarily make it to the virtual sports simulation that becomes the licensed video game of the league. In hockey, for example, it wasn’t until NHL 12, and after the pleading of a young hockey playing fan on an all-girls team, that the “career” mode of the game allowed for female character avatars, despite numerous (if obviously outnumbered by their male counterparts) examples of women playing on professional hockey teams. A year later, the NHL video game franchise added some of the most successful female hockey players in history alongside its premade celebrity player characters like Wayne Gretzky. As for the FIFA franchise, well, we’re still waiting.
But earlier this year the Ultimate Fighting Championships started their own women’s division and signed their first female fighters, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche. This was not done without some controversy: many were worried that the two fighters, who crossed gloves for the first time in February, would be objectified in advertising, or that their fights would be toned down from those of their male counterparts. But the UFC was true to its word, delivering a sold-out fight just as exciting as any of their others, and immediately signing fifteen more women to the new division.
It’s nice to see EA Sports UFC following up so quickly on the change by incorporating the women’s division into the game version as well. So far, the only female fighters certain to be in the game are Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, though more will be announced closer to its launch next spring. Hopefully that will include Liz Carmouche, the UFC’s first openly gay fighter. In order to “remain authentic to the sport,” playable female fighters will not be able to fight male fighters in the game.