EA Sports under fire for sexist selfies in NHL 15

Fun fact: The Entertainment Software Association recently revealed that more women over the age of 18 play video games than boys under the age of 18. They encompass 36 percent of all gamers in the U.S.

So one assumes one or two women will pick up “NHL 15” from EA Sports when it’s released next week. One assumes EA Sports would know this. So why the game-maker would do anything that might alienate these fans is sort of baffling.

Which brings us to selfies.

One of the big innovations of “NHL 15” is in the game’s arena detail and the actions of fans. Hell, they’ve even mastered the art of the “enemy fan,” a.k.a. that knucklehead that invades your arena and cheers for the visiting team. (i.e. “me.”)

Did you catch the stinger, with the fans taking selfies at the game? EA Sports has even designed a faux Instagram around them.

The one on the left has a woman at a Toronto Maple Leafs game proclaiming that offsides is such a difficult concept to wrap her feminine head around, but oh well she still likes the Leafs because it’s Man Crush Monday!

The one in the middle is “allstar_wifey01” who is at the “Kings Game with ma gurrllzz” and even has a commenter calling her a bandwagon fan!

The Pink Puck – an awesome site, by the way, for your bookmarks – took issue with this portrayal. From Christine Rousselle:

While Instagrams in general aren’t exactly known for their intellectual fortitude, is it really necessary for a league with pretty well documented issues marketing to and attracting female fans to tack on this bizarre and condescending image at the end of an advertisement for the sport’s marquee video game?

Maybe I’m looking too deeply into this—and full disclosure, I think the game looks pretty awesome—but it’s kind of absurd that NHL 15 took steps to mock female hockey fans as part of the “real-life” arena experience in the game. I’m willing to wager that most female fans go to games because they actually enjoy the sport, not because their “man crush” is on the ice. It’s also upsetting to see how EA Sports embraced the “dumb puck bunny” stereotype with the “Still don’t understand offsides” caption. Again, this is portrayed in the ad as a realistic arena experience. Offsides isn’t that difficult of a concept. 

Well, unless Matt Duchene has the puck…

This is obviously just a little slice of the overall game, and a facet of the fan depictions in “NHL 15.” But Rousselle is right: Who is this for?

Does EA Sports think that women who buy the game, pick up a controller and play a season will see a reflection of themselves in “rulez are hard LOLZ?” To throw that in the trailer for the game seems more about showing off a bell and whistle than it does understanding what it represents to a segment of the audience.

Good on the Pink Puck for calling it out.

Maybe for future EA Sport games, there’s an argument is for equal representation of gender stereotypes in the arena. Have the girl there for “Man Crush Monday”, and then have a selfie of a dude punching the guy next to him while vomiting on the row in front of him. #GameNight!

Or at the very least, EA can make it up to women gamers by making Shannon Szabados a playable character in "NHL 16"...