For the first time in 22 years, EA Sports have introduced women into their popular FIFA video game, FIFA 16. There will be 12 international women's teams featured in the game, including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China PR, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and USA.
A new edition of the game has been released annually since 1993, with the most recent edition (FIFA 15), including over 16,000 male players from across the world. By the time of the new release, there will have been six FIFA Women's World Cups. The first WWC was in 1991, with only 12 international teams entering the group stages. This figure has doubled and now sees 24 teams attending the 2015 WWC in Canada.
With the recent bribery scandal hitting FIFA this month, it is refreshing to see some positive news with the upcoming game release. USA international, Alex Morgan, is one of the many players who have worked alongside EA to assist with player animations. Morgan said: "It is such an honour for women's players and our team to be included in FIFA 16. I always wondered what it would be like to see our team in the game and it is very cool to now know that is a reality."
England and Manchester City Captain, Steph Houghton, also spoke of her delight to be involved: "The whole team are thrilled to be included in EA Sports FIFA 16. It is a really exciting year for women's football, with the forthcoming World Cup and to find out we will be included in FIFA for the first time is a special feeling."
The game will make history and will be another important step into fighting back against the stereotype and discrimination that surrounds women in sport. Houghton further added: "To be one of the first female players included in the game is something we will always be able to look back on and be proud of. Hopefully it will help raise the profile of the women's game even further."
Since the news was released last week, predictably there has been a mixture of response. Mostly positive comments have arisen, because let's face it, there are NO negatives as a result of including women into the video game. By far, the best reply on social media so far has to be Niamh Caoimhe's:
Overall, not only will this be a huge step for women's football, but it will also be a big step for the video game industry. An industry which has always significantly underrepresented female characters in mainstream games. UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment) published survey results in 2014 indicating that 42% of UK gamers are female. In the same year, FIFA 15 was the highest selling video game. Even outside of the UK, a large percentage of gamers are still going to be female, which leads you to wonder why video game industries are not doing more to appeal to the wider market.
With that being said, EA Sports are certainly setting an example, especially with the upcoming Women's World Cup. Hopefully, by the time France 2019 WWC comes around, we will see more players and domestic teams featured in the highly popular game.