Girl wins bid to play virtual self in EA Sports NHL 12 video game
Hockey is attracting more female players, but when young skaters like Lexi turned to the leading NHL video game, the custom player characters they could build in the game came with many different looks – so long as they were male.
“I asked my dad, ‘Why aren’t there girls in the NHL video game?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know, write a letter.’ So, I did,” [14-year-old Lexi Peters] told the Globe and Mail from her home in Buffalo, N.Y.
She sent a typewritten letter to the executives of one the largest video game makers in the world, asking them to add women players.
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.”
The first response she got back from Electronic Arts was disappointing. But she figured at least she’d tried.
“I heard back a few weeks later and they told me it couldn’t happen because it has to go through the NHL.”
What she didn’t know was that the president of EA Sports had forwarded her letter to David Littman, the lead producer of the company’s NHL game. His reaction was different.
“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.
Then EA Sports gave Lexi the news. Not only were they adding a female character option, but they wanted Lexi to play the part of the “default” female player that gamers would then be able to customize.
“I was so excited,” says Lexi. “My dad called my grandpa immediately, who called my Uncle Chris, like a chain reaction.”
Users can tailor the female character by changing hair, eye colour and the name on the jersey if they want, just as with male players.