Justin Parham

Friday, Sept. 7, 2018

Equal footing: For first time, gamers can customize female players for NBA Live

PHOENIX — For the second year in a row, gamers can hit the virtual hardwood with WNBA superstars like Diana Taurasi and Breanna Stewart. However, this year they will have the ability to customize female athletes with NBA Live 19’s new “create a female” feature.

The video game was released today.

Taurasi, a guard for the Phoenix Mercury, didn’t have the opportunity to play video games with characters that looked like her as a child.

“Young girls are playing a lot of video games, too, so it would’ve been nice if I could’ve picked Stewie (Breanna Stewart), it would’ve been nice when I was younger to be Sheryl Swoopes so I think it’s kind of cool,” Taurasi said.

WNBA viewership increased 36 percent since last season, according to Forbes.

EA Sports introduced pre-designed players last year. With NBA Live 19, gamers can create custom players by choosing not only physical dimensions and hairstyles but playing styles patterned after WNBA greats. There are no differences in height and weight limits for female players and male players.

Diana Taurasi wishes she could have played a video game that allowed her to customize female players. (Photo by Justin Parham/Cronkite News)

Stewart, a forward for the Seattle Storm, was surprised to hear about the addition to NBA Live 19.

“I didn’t know that there was a ‘create a player’ option,” Stewart said. “To have that for a women’s player gives a lot of young girls and even young boys an opportunity to see the other side of things and, see how the WNBA is and have something to inspire to.”

That representation by NBA Live 19 is important, said Devereaux Peters, a forward for the Phoenix Mercury.

“It’s really great for them to create their own players and be women,” Peters said. “Our league has been around for a long time and just being able to see them on the court and being able to create these players on video games it just really gives them that step that yes this is something I can do.”

Even though the addition of WNBA players in video games may be good for their league, many of the players are not concerned about playing them. They are more focused on just playing basketball.

Sue Bird, a guard for the Seattle Storm, didn’t spend many late nights in front of the TV.

“I wasn’t a gamer. Super Mario was about as far as I got, maybe Mike Tyson Punch Out. For basketball it was Double Dribble. Those dudes were faceless,” Bird said. “I can see the importance just having that embed in our culture starting at a young age. It means something when those narratives are such where people can see women being successful.”

NBA Live 19 was released today on Xbox One and Playstation 4.

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