EA Sports released a 47-second video on Friday announcing that Ronda Rousey would be on the cover of EA Sports UFC 2. The following day Rousey fought Holly Holm in UFC 193 where Rousey was knocked out fifty-nine seconds into the second round. It was her first defeat after twelve wins dating back to 2011. People are already talking about a UFC cover curse similar to the Madden cover curse.
Featuring female athletes on the covers of video game sports titles is starting to become a trend with EA Sports. FIFA 16, that came out earlier this year, featured Steph Catley, Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan on the covers. Putting female athletes on the covers of sporting gaming titles is not new. Women have been featured on the covers of Olympic titles, such as Amanda Beard and Nastia Liukin on Sega’s Beijing 2008.
I played EA Sports UFC knowing that there were female athletes featured in the title. I like sport titles for the ability to play a simulated franchise or career. Since I like simulation games and games with stories, I especially like to create my own character and write my own story. I was hoping with the UFC title that I could create a female character and have her fight her way to the top of the UFC. Yet, there was no ability to create your own female character. You also could not play as a female character in career mode. I’m hoping that with the inclusion of a female athlete on the cover of UFC 2 that the ability to play female athletes in the game will be all inclusive as well. I personally would like to create Fallon Fox, a transgender female MMA fighter, and have her be able to compete in the UFC.
I actually have mixed feelings that Rousey is on the cover. I’m happy that we have some gender inclusion in sporting video game titles outside of Olympic titles. Rousey is perhaps one of the most well known female athletes and the most well known UFC athlete, male or female. Putting her on the cover for the UFC was an obvious choice. Yet, she has said some ignorant things about transgender athletes in the past when TMZ talked to her about Fallon Fox. She claimed that transgender athletes have an unfair advantage due to our bone structure being the same as a man’s bone structure. Eric Vilain, director of the Institute For Society And Genetics at UCLA who assisted the Association of Boxing Commissions in transgender athlete policy, disagreed with her in an interview with Time magazine.
Rousey’s performance, in and out of the octagon, is doing much for gender equality, even with her loss to Holm. I don’t think she is at the same level as Billie Jean King was during the early 1970s in respect to gender equality in sports. Yet, I do believe that Rousey is only helping out cisgender women and not helping out transgender women athletes. If anything her notability and fans agreeing with her opinions are actually hurting transgender athletes.
I don’t think I will see a transgender athlete included in a sporting game let alone on the cover of the game. As long as gaming titles give me the freedom to create characters that I want to play, I’ll be happy playing my own transgender athlete.
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