A letter from a 14-year-old hockey fan has convinced EA Sports to add female avatars to NHL 12.

It’s a little known secret that girls like to play hockey. They’re not very good at it, what with being girls and all, but they do their best and they have fun and for them, that’s what really counts. But when they play hockey videogames, they’re forced to play as men; in-game avatars in EA Sports NHL series, for instance, are fully customizable but the base the model has always been a big, burly, bruiser of a man.

But that’s not the case in the new NHL 12, thanks to the efforts of 14-year-old Lexi Peters of Buffalo, NY, who wanted to know why girl gamers couldn’t create avatars that actually looked like themselves, rather than just Swedes with bad haircuts. Prompted by her father, she wrote a letter to EA Sports, saying, “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.”

EA actually responded to the letter, telling her that it wouldn’t be possible to add female avatars to the game because all such decisions have to be approved by the NHL. She was naturally disappointed, but what she didn’t know was that her missive had also made its way to the president of EA Sports, who then passed it on to NHL Lead Producer David Littman.

Littman was able to get permission to add female avatars from the NHL and EA’s legal department, and also managed the vital step of squeezing the budget enough to make it happen. The company then went back to Lexi with some double-cool news: not only had it decided to add female avatars to the game, but it wanted to use her likeness as the default female player.

“I was so excited,” she said. “My dad called my grandpa immediately, who called my Uncle Chris, like a chain reaction.”

There has actually been one female player to appear in the NHL, Manon Rheaume, who appeared in a pair of preseason exhibition games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992 and 1993. More relevant to EA, however, is the growing number of women who are taking up the game at all levels. According to Hockey Canada, roughly 5000 women in the country were playing in 1990, whereas today that figure has jumped to more than 100,000.

“Lexi’s letter was a wake-up call,” Littman told the Globe and Mail. “Here’s a growing audience playing our NHL game and we hadn’t done anything to capture them.”

EA Sports NHL 12 comes out in North America on September 13 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. And yes, that bit about girls being bad hockey players was a joke. Lighten up, people.

via: The Mary Sue

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