Women's soccer star Kelley O'Hara (Image: ussoccer.com)The saga of the U.S. women's soccer team during this year's Olympics may have been as captivating as the "Fab Five" or Michael Phelps' quest to set an Olympic medal record, but when it comes to the world of video games, soccer is strictly a sport for men.
It's a frustrating reality — and one that excludes a wide swath of potential players. And now the executive producer of EA's immensely popular FIFA franchise is acknowledging the problem.In a conversation with Kotaku, EA's David Rutter noted that while women's soccer won't be a feature in this year's installment of the game (it's too late to add it), it's something the team is considering.
"I remember vividly being in Cologne (for Gamescom 2011) and being approached by journalist after journalist about the Women's World Cup [happening that year]," he says. "The same answer then is the same answer now. Every year, a vast quantity of suggestions for inclusion comes into our studio. We have to whittle it down to what we can make in one year. It's a case of prioritizing what needs to be done, and then we do our best to knock it out of the park in whatever we're doing. But [women in the game] is always something considered in some shape or form, and it's not to say it won't ever happen."
Rutter, though, says he doesn't want the inclusion of athletes like Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd to be an afterthought or something that's simply tacked on. Instead, he says, he wants the game to do the athletes justice rather than simply acknowledge them. (The video game industry has tried that before with Mia Hamm 64 Soccer, a title which was widely panned.)
EA, of course, has faced criticism for a lack of female athletes before. Last year, 14-year-old Lexi Peters wrote the company to ask why women couldn't be created with the in-game character-building tools. The publisher replied that decisions like that had to go through the NHL, but the league called her letter a "wake up call" — and asked EA to make the change.
EA went one step further, using Lexi's face as the default female model in the game.