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Women in Ultimate Team take center stage in NHL 23

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It’s easy to miss the small, repetitive changes made with each new installment of EA’s NHL franchise. In many cases, the changes are very subtle and the tweaks are so minor that they are hardly worth commenting on. However, there is one addition to this year’s game that deserves particular recognition. That’s the addition of a female hockey player to her Ultimate Team mode in the game.

The change isn’t something EA’s sports franchises are known for, but the addition of women to the popular fantasy team-building mode is worth celebrating for what it means for women’s hockey. For those who don’t follow the sport, women have long struggled to earn their fair share of the male spotlight. Despite thrilling and tense clashes between the Canadian and U.S. women’s teams in the last few Olympics, the stars of these teams are determined to build a sustainable professional league. I have been struggling with

It’s a devastating cycle. The reason I don’t invest in women’s hockey is because I don’t care. But without the funding to make the sport more known and popular, fans will always remain relatively few.

As such, the integration of additional female players into “NHL 23” and the inclusion of Canadian star Sarah Nurse on the cover are among the most significant additions the game has made in its 30+ year history. Now Nurse and other women like her are more visible than ever to players of the beloved franchise. Greats like Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne Scofield and Marie-Philippe Poole got their chance to be recognized outside the quadrennial Olympic cycle.

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This isn’t going to change anything in the sport overnight. This is a small step with limited real impact on women’s hockey underfunding. However, awareness of women’s hockey is the first step to grow the professional scene. Visibility is key, and this game franchise is particularly well suited for visible locations.

Video games are the most popular form of entertainment on the planet, and the NHL is working on esports and other gaming initiatives to help get younger audiences into hockey. The NHL, a video game, has served many as an introduction to a sport usually reserved for those living in Canada and the northern United States.

Now, NHL 23 can teach users just how good the world’s best female players are when playing alongside men in Ultimate Team mode. We’ve already seen female players competing against males in real life. Manon Lehomme played her preseason game twice with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992 (now Los Angeles). ). The aforementioned Kendall Coyne Scofield competed in the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills Fastest Skater competition in Arizona where he defeated Coyote’s Clayton Keller and winner Conor He finished about a second behind McDavid. “NHL 23” brings women and men closer together by equalizing skill ratings for both women and men. So if a female player rates her 88 overall, she’s just as proficient at “NHL 23” as a male player with the same rating.

“It’s all a level playing field … The highest-rated women’s players on the ice in terms of attributes will be the same as men’s hockey players,” said Clem Kwon, producer of “NHL 23,” recently with said in an interview with The Post. “Not only does it represent the growing popularity and presence of the sporting landscape and women’s hockey, which we continue to support, [to represent the landscape] In terms of in-game experience. “

Please save before questioning whether this is a realistic approach. it’s a video game. If you don’t want female players in Ultimate Team, no need (but you’re missing out on some great talent). The ratings may be the same, but EA developers say size still matters from a game’s physics standpoint.

“A 6-foot-6, 230-pound defender could rely on a smaller player, whether that player is male or female,” Kwon said.

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The impact could be even greater, as female players are welcome to be added to Ultimate Team mode. Women’s teams cannot play against men’s teams in this game. If you want to play Team USA’s women’s team, you can’t play against Colorado Her Avalanche or any other men’s team. I hope it’s different. Again, this is a video game. This is not realistic. In the digital world, injuries are no longer an issue. Why limit it to same-sex matches?

From setting players a concession price and giving them the opportunity to upgrade their parking lot (unnecessary and a waste of time), to all-new “last chance” pack movement mechanics (desperate paths or It’s been completely unremarkable in the games I’ve played (until you can get off the shot), EA has shoved a lot of distractions into the NHL franchise over the years. The extra brilliance given to female players feels resonant. The NHL as a whole has seen women break through more visibly across the game in recent years. It’s good to see them doing the same for the world’s most popular hockey game.

Noah Smith contributed to this review.