FIFA 18 The Journey includes a female protagonist, marking a small but significant step forward for the football series. The mode includes a playable female character in some segments of the mode, which tells the story of (male character) Alex Hunter’s rise to footballing glory.
EA first introduced playable female characters in FIFA 16, when international female teams made their video game debut.
After FIFA 18, How Can EA Include More Female Footballers?
In FIFA 18‘s story mode, The Journey, players are able to play as female character Kim Hunter. Kim is the sister of main, male protagonist Alex and players meet her as she is making her debut with the United States women’s national team.
Although The Journey is Alex’s tale and Kim’s section is just a small slice of that, this is still a significant step forward. This is the first time that female footballers have been included in a ‘main’ section of the game (either the Career, Ultimate Team or The Journey game modes) since being added to the series in FIFA 16.
It means that female footballers are no longer optional for people who play FIFA 18. Well, unless they skip The Journey, of course. But skipping The Journey means that you miss out on the Ultimate Team rewards for taking part.
Anyone who has watched a women’s football match, ever, can tell you that the women’s game is just as spectacular as the men’s, but some football fans dispute that. Seeing is believing and FIFA 18 lends the women’s game legitimacy and helps to convince doubters that actually, watching and playing as female footballers can be just as entertaining.
The decision to include a female protagonist in a main FIFA 18 game mode is also inspiring for the many women who play the football series. Representation is important and the joy of playing Kim in her debut USWNT match shouldn’t be understated.
But with that said, there is much more that can be done. Specifically, future FIFA releases could introduce a women’s career mode.
While the international women’s game could always do with more and better coverage, it’s the league teams that need the support the most. The success of regional league teams is vital as it offers a chance for female players to develop their skills, regularly.
Without the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) which formed in 2012, players in the United States were at risk of languishing in the ‘off-season’ of international competition. They just didn’t have a chance to practice their skills and many had been forced to go overseas for a chance to play or even take part-time jobs outside of the sport in order to earn money. League teams are also a key part of the developmental pipeline, with league players working to become key international picks.
Introducing a women’s career mode in FIFA 19 would showcase these league teams and allow players to become newfound fans – fans who will buy tickets and shirts, going to games and helping the teams thrive. It’s also just generally inspiring for younger female fans who want to grow up and become professional footballers too.
That’s not to say that there aren’t significant challenges. Securing licenses for the NWSL could be much more difficult than getting the licensing for English leagues which are often just women’s versions of the men’s teams (e.g Chelsea Ladies, Arsenal Ladies). A women’s career mode may not have the pricey player transfers that the men’s game does, either, and EA would have to find a way to make that feature interesting.
But future FIFA releases would certainly be richer for including a women’s career mode and hopefully, the inclusion of a playable female character in FIFA 18‘s The Journey is a signal of greater things to come.
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