While manners-obsessed people might lean toward “Please,” the most important word in a young person’s vocabulary might just be “Why?” As an individual goes from simply absorbing the ideas of friends and family to developing a world view of their own, asking that simple question can often unravel something that once seemed like a great mystery. In one instance, asking why eventually allowed a teenage girl to appear in the most popular hockey video game on the market.
Fourteen-year-old Lexi Peters spent hours playing around with the custom team features in one of EA Sports’ NHL titles, as she hoped to recreate the Purple Eagles (an all-girls team Peters plays for). Unfortunately, the budding hockey fan ran into a significant issue: the games’ player creation options did not include a female character build.
The Buffalo native asked her father why there aren’t any women in the game, which prompted some great advice: why not send EA Sports a letter to find out? Peters did just that.
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.”
At first, it seemed like a lost cause, as Peters received a letter from EA saying that it couldn’t happen because such a decision would have to go through the NHL. The buck didn’t stop there, however, as NHL 12’s lead producer David Littman viewed the letter as a “wake-up call” about the game’s growing female audience.
“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.”
Bravo to EA Sports for listening to their customers, taking the steps to make that change and then giving Peters credit for the idea in a very clever and charming way. (This post’s main image features a screenshot of Lexi’s appearance in the game.)
The Globe & Mail article elaborates on that interesting story, as they discussed the notion that this is another sign of hockey’s growing popularity with women. The story caught up with Manon Rhéaume , a female goaltender who famously played two exhibition games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992.
“It’s a big change and it’s exciting to see, because so many girls pay hockey now,” said Manon Rhéaume, the only woman to ever play in the real-world NHL.
With all of this in mind, I cannot help but wonder if female Hockey Hall of Famers Cammi Granato and Angela James might appear as legends in an NHL title in the future. Either way, this is a really cool move by EA and an example of the power of a little bit of inquisitiveness.
(That being said, I’m still holding a grudge on the Mars candy company for ignoring my 15-year-old idea to release more holiday-themed M & Ms. Maybe that cold war will melt away like those thick candy shells one of these days, though.)
[Image via The Globe & Mail.]