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EA Adds Female Player Avatars to NHL12 On Request From Female Fan
by Susana Polo | 10:24 am, September 12th, 2011
The perennial EA Games title NHL (this year’s is NHL 12) comes out tomorrow, and this year’s edition contains one big new feature: the ability to create female player avatars. According to the Globe and Mail, the number of women playing hockey in Canada alone has grown from 5,000 in 1990 to 100,000 today, but it wasn’t the growing demographic that changed EA’s mind on the issue: it was a letter from Lexi Peters, a 14-year-old female fan of the series and a four-year veteran of the ice herself.
She wrote: “It is unfair to women and girl hockey players around the world, many of them who play and enjoy your game. I have created a character of myself, except I have to be represented by a male and that’s not fun.”
For those who have never tried the game, players can choose everything from their team and players to who controls the puck. They can also create characters of their own, picking hair and eye colours and other details. Those characters were all men.
“My younger brother got to create a character that looked just like him. I had never been able to experience that,” says Lexi…
She and a teammate spent hours creating a whole custom hockey team, modeling the players after their own all-girls team, the Purple Eagles. The best they could do was give the characters long “hockey” hair.
Lexi was disappointed to get a letter back from EA, simply telling her that the changes were out of their hands: the NHL itself would have to ask them to ad female characters in order to get that level of customization into the game. Unbeknownst to Lexi, however, the letter had reached the desk of of EA Sports’ president, and from there it had been forwarded to David Littman, the NHL’s lead producer of licensed NHL videogames.
“Lexi’s letter was a wake-up call,” Mr. Littman told the Globe and Mail. “Here’s a growing audience playing our NHL game and we hadn’t done anything to capture them.”
Mr. Littman then did some stick handling of his own: finding the budget to build her into the game, as well as getting permission from the NHL and EA’s legal department.
By way of making her troubles doubly worthwhile, EA even made sure that the default female avatar was in Lexi’s own likeness. Lexi says she’s looking forward to the game, and hopes that now she might get a little less flack from the hockey playing guys in her school who think girls’ hockey isn’t as cool.
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