Ignoring the ‘fratricidal’ FIFA wars over Sepp Blatter, the officials at EA Sports gave the masses something unprecedented earlier this June. The internet woke up (as if it ever sleeps) to witness gaming spheres and women activists, sportswomen and feminist leaders brawl over the inclusion of 12 international women’s football teams in the upcoming FIFA 16.
FIFA has been one of the most played video game since its launch and after the introduction of improved game-play and graphics in FIFA 12, its sales have sky rocketed. Due its increasing popularity it was bound to face many critical arguments- one regarding its exclusively male character. Despite Ubisoft’s claims that women are too hard to render, EA Sports has somehow done the impossible and digitally modeled more than 200 of them, “each a recognizable simulacrum of a real human person who is very good at playing football”.
The female football World Cup is currently being played in Canada (which might be a factor). It’s great news for the female footballers who can’t wait to score in the game as ‘themselves’. England captain Steph Houghton’s interview to BBC is going viral. And at the same time insensitive jokes are being inflicted upon them by the ruthless (predominantly male) netizens. Thinking of what the game would actually look like they have come up with such innovative crap. ‘Your player has been ruled out for 9 months due to pregnancy’ or ‘Player unfit. Having period!’ are just some of the ‘innocuous’ remarks that illustrate their intolerance. In defense, the netizens-in-question blurt out that they’re tired of feminism altogether.
The world online is scary today. To be extremely frank, the aggressive ‘feminist- anti-feminist’ debates are making it scarier. This very movement which ‘aims at achieving equal social, economic, political, cultural and personal rights for women’ is diving into almost every aspect of the real and virtual order. The intensity is absolutely legitimate and positive however, the moves the so-called ‘fanatics’ of the ideology are taking are being met with unwelcoming responses by some elements that perhaps belong to the ‘antithesis of feminism’. (The term being used to represent and at the same time sooth the ‘anti-feminist’ people who refuse to be called anti-feminists.)
Then comes the ‘gamer’ point of view which- in this debate- unfortunately- is the least cared for at the moment. Gamers despite enjoying the enhanced virtual experience of FIFA have been complaining about several areas of the game, for example, the primitive manager mode, goalkeeper control, tournament settings issues and more. At this point of time, when EA ignores all these aberrations and goes ahead adding females who are relatively unknown angers quite a few of the gaming lot. Then there are people who suggest it’s an American move- according to them, the U.S. women’s football team (ranked 2nd) has been doing exceedingly well recently and so its neighbouring game developer (the Canadian EA sports) did the needful.
The prime motive behind this is quite explicit. EA suggests the inclusion of the 200 or so women players would increase their ‘female-following’ which is negligible at the moment to a seemingly high extent. Some pundits opine the ‘girls-in-a-boys-game’ isn’t going to work out. Well, that’s as regressive as it sounds.
The sport of football has forever been regarded as ‘manly’- which presently means ‘like men’. One can only hope it doesn’t get forced to mean ‘of Men’. There’s no doubt that male gamers would be the core consumers of FIFA 16. However, the hidden intention of the game is to instill a love for the little bit “‘equality’ that has just found an opening” in the gamers similar to their love for the beautiful game. And there seems no harm in adding top 12 women’s football teams in a game where an international men’s team ranked 141 already exists. Yes, I am referring to our very own country.