One of my earliest college memories was the seemingly nightly FIFA showdowns between friends and myself in my dorm on a PS2. Being at a party school like FSU well before the modern age of competitive gaming as we know it, a night of video games wasn’t exactly high on most students’ lists on a Friday night. But while my roommate and his friends were out till the crack of dawn hitting up frat parties and the Strip on Tennessee Street, I and a few other digital degenerates could be found crowded around a small tube TV, fueled by soda and junk food, sleeplessly slamming away at our controllers in hopes of grinding out one more win before the sun came up. After all, games might end, but bragging rights are forever.
Nearly two decades later, FIFA is still a part of my escape - with far less late night marathons and junk food, but still with every bit of enjoyment. Three generations of game systems have elapsed since those sleepless nights and the new generation of FIFA is a far cry from the game I used to play back in the early 2000s. The gameplay is far more complex, the graphics more realistic, and the commentary more varied and dynamic. In some ways, it’s almost too advanced.
The annual installment of the FIFA video game franchise has become something of a hallmark of the beginning of the new domestic season and a rite of passage for gamers. For the uninitiated, EA Sports’ FIFA has been the premier soccer game for over two decades with millions of players around the world, featuring the game’s best players and clubs. In the new era of professional gaming, FIFA has also become one of the most competitive sports games, with big-name gamers raking in huge purses at major events around the world.
In their never-ending quest to provide a more authentic match day experience, EA includes notable names not only on the pitch, but in the commentator’s booth as well, with former Gunners Alan Smith and Lee Dixon featured in recent years. Next season will see another Arsenal alum join the FIFA commentating ranks, as it was announced today that Alex Scott will be featured in the upcoming FIFA 22 release in September, becoming the first English-speaking female commentator in the storied franchise’s history.
Happy to finally share the news that I joined the FIFA family and will be commentating for #FIFA22!— Alex Scott MBE (@AlexScott) July 21, 2021
This is a big moment for FIFA, for football and women and girls across the world.
It’s also a big moment for me personally and professionally.#FIFA22 pic.twitter.com/A1Lhozl7K6
While the addition of a female commentator in a video game might not seem like a big deal, it actually kind of is. The role of women in sports media has become more prominent over the last decade, with many talented pundits and former players taking part in a dialogue that was once male-dominated. But while the sports media world in real life has evolved to become more inclusive and features far fairer representation than before, FIFA has been a step behind in their advancements. It wasn’t until two years ago that FIFA featured women’s teams, but it was a hard sell for gamers that was short lived, as EA cut the women’s teams from the following iterations. The most recent season, though, saw the first female commentator featured, as Nira Juanco provided Spanish commentary.
Alex Scott enjoyed a decorated career as a player for Arsenal and England and was a member of the historic Quadruple winning side in 06-07 for the Gunners. Following her playing career, she quickly found success behind the microphone. While Arsenal fans stateside might not be familiar with Alex, she has become a staple of the BBC’s coverage of the Premier League.
With the ever-changing gameplay and graphics, it’s easy to overlook changes like this, but these changes matter, too. Representation has become an important part of the conversation across sports, and it should be - the more people that feel heard, seen, and understood, the better! The simple notion that sports are for all people is something Arsenal has championed recently with their Arsenal for Everyone campaign, which is represented on the inside collar of the newest Arsenal kits. And now, it seems, FIFA is starting to take notice and make meaningful changes - small ones, but changes all the same, which are sometimes all it takes for the wheel of progress to keep turning. We look forward to hearing Alex in the next FIFA game, and hopefully more games to come.