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Breaking virtual barriers: Female representation in EA Sports FC 24

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Female Representation

In EA Sports FC 24, the most recent instalment of FIFA / EA Sports FC, gamers can now build their squads with a mix of female and male footballers playing alongside each other in Ultimate Team mode, which is the most popular mode in the game. Andrea Hopelain (Senior Vice President of the EA Sports brand) says that this move has made EA Sports FC 24 “the most inclusive and diverse” yet. The significance of representation in video games is multifaceted, promoting inclusivity, diversity, and empowerment while offering gamers relatable characters. This not only fuels creativity within the gaming industry but also positively influences societal attitudes towards female gamers and football supporters. Diverse representation in games contributes to an inclusive gaming environment that mirrors the diversity of the player base and society, exemplified by the inclusion of women in EA Sports FC 24, and reflects real-world progress in women’s football.

The sports gaming industry, historically dominated by men, has seen a transformation in its representation of female players in recent years. Although female players were introduced to FIFA in 2015, their presence was limited to minor modes, rarely utilised by gamers. However, EA has progressively expanded the inclusion of women’s national teams, leagues, and players, aligning with the growing popularity and recognition of women’s football, and with its most dramatic update yet, encouraging support of female representation by enabling mixed gender teams in its most popular mode. This move is timely, given the unprecedented success of sporting teams like the Lionesses, the Women’s Super League and the commercial prosperity of women’s sports, and also reflects the current gender split in the gaming community, with a recent study by the Entertainment Software Association revealing that 46 percent of gamers identify as female. EA’s initiative pioneered revolution and prompted other gaming entities, such as Football Manager, to announce that they will follow suit. This shift has sparked increased dialogue and visibility surrounding diversity in both physical and virtual sports.

The integration of female players in Ultimate Team has sparked criticism on social media, particularly on X (formerly twitter), where some gamers argue that the mix of male and female players lacks authenticity and feels forced. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the realism of female player scores aligning with the best male players. However, this critique overlooks the inherently unrealistic nature of the game itself, where gamers can construct squads with footballers from different leagues, and the accuracy of numerical ratings of players of both genders is frequently questioned. EA and professional footballers have engaged in various discussions defending the updated Ultimate Team mode. Sam Rivera (a senior producer speaking to IGN) emphasised that Ultimate Team should be viewed as a “fantasy mode”, as it allows gamers to create teams comprising players who would never play together in real life. This was further emphasised by Moroccan football player Maryame Atiq Ez-zity, who said “it is a video game that simulates the sport. There are millions of actions that the simulated players do that are not real and that the elite players do not practice”. Therefore, the introduction of female players arguably has little impact on the realism of Ultimate Team mode, as it is not necessarily an authentic simulation of the game in the first place.

The updates made to EA Sports FC have garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback, particularly from female football supporters and gamers. While the full impact on the gaming community is yet to be fully realised, the changes undeniably foster greater inclusion, contributing to a more diverse and enjoyable gaming experience for all. Despite some controversy, there is optimism that such advancements will become the “norm” in the years to come, particularly as other sports focussed gaming platforms are making similar moves. Looking ahead, possibilities include more diverse gaming modes, expanded options for female players, such as increased eligibility for player upgrades, and intensified efforts to bridge the virtual gender gap. These developments not only signify progress in sports gaming but also hold broader implications for diversity within the gaming industry. In conclusion, ongoing efforts are crucial to ensuring continued progress and equal, authentic representation for both male and female players in the virtual football world.

This content was previously published on DLA Piper’s Blog. ELN thanks DLA Piper and Sara Jenkins for the permission to re-publish.

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  • Sara Jenkins
  • Naomi Ross

    Naomi specialises in advising on the legal and commercial aspects of transformational and technology projects and general commercial arrangements across a number of sectors, including financial services and technology. Naomi’s experience includes advising on supply agreements, cloud computing (SaaS, IaaS and PaaS), e-commerce, IT outsourcing, multi-vendor contracting, collaboration, procurement and licensing. Naomi understands the key commercial drivers and objectives of her clients, enabling her to provide solution orientated and pragmatic advice.

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ELN Announcement: Launch of Esports Legal Wiki

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ELN Announcement Launch of Esports Legal Wiki

We are thrilled to announce the official launch of the Esports Legal Wiki, a groundbreaking new resource in the field of esports law, edited by Dr Despoina Farmaki and Leonid Shmatenko. This comprehensive digital encyclopedia features over 60 detailed legal definitions and analyses authored by a distinguished panel of experts in the esports legal domain. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the following contributors for their invaluable insights and expertise:

Esports Legal News (ELN) is also excited to promote Dr. Despoina Farmaki to Chief Academic Officer. Dr. Farmaki, who has played a pivotal role in the development of the Esports Legal Wiki, will not only oversee the finalization of this extensive project but will also spearhead an exciting new academic initiative set to be unveiled in the first quarter of 2025.

We invite scholars and practitioners from around the world to contribute to the Esports Legal Wiki. Your submissions will help ensure that this platform remains a cutting-edge, authoritative source for legal professionals, scholars, and anyone interested in the legal aspects of esports.

To participate, please refer to the attached call for papers and submission guidelines. Your contributions are crucial to the success and continual growth of this essential legal resource.

Thank you to all our contributors and supporters for making this project possible. We look forward to your ongoing engagement and to revealing further innovations in the near future.

Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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Takaze’s Take: Free the Agents – Sexism and Misogyny in the Esports Business

This new format of an article (Takaze’s Take) explains how an eathlete can file a discrimination lawsuit in the USA. This article also discusses women in sports.

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Takaze's Take: Free the Agents

On 28 February 2024, Josefine Jensen, a member of Astralis’ Women’s Counter-Strike team, took a stand. She Xed a letter to Valve Corporation, demanding a change in their business practices. Specifically, she urged them to make female agent skins free to use in Counter-Strike. This issue, she believes, is not just about Skins but about the deep-rooted sexism and misogyny that pervades the esports industry. 

The esports world has a rich history of mistreating women.[1] However, women in America do have a way to counterattack. For example, suppose the misandrist is someone you work with. In that case, you can file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).[2] 

The EEOC enforces “federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.”[3] If you sign and file a Charge of Discrimination, you are “asserting that an employer, union or labor organization engaged in employment discrimination.”[4] You must file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC before you can sue your employer for discrimination.

Takaze’s Take

Filing a Charge of Discrimination is not your only option. In fact, as the war against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) intensifies, the EEOC may be unable to protect you. Unfortunately, your enemies intend to compel the EEOC to enforce the status quo.[5] If DEI is important to you, then a showdown with your adversaries may be inevitable. 

Mr. Monopoly’s Wisdom

Your opponents view DEI as a zero-sum game. Fear and insecurities are at the center of the conflict.[6] We ought to celebrate your accomplishments.[7] Instead, your adversaries recognize that these fears and insecurities make their followers susceptible to viewing your success as a threat.[8] Mr. Monopoly can help you understand the schism. Until recently, your enemies owned the entire board. Their rule was ruthless and absolute. Over time, your foes’ forefathers were forced to make half-hearted concessions. Your forebears were given Mediterranean Avenue—Connecticut Avenue. Their adversaries expected them to be content. 

Those whose shoulders you stand upon continued to press the issue. You landed on Atlantic Avenue, and your sights are set on Boardwalk. The last seven to eight years in American politics should have clarified one thing for you: Your enemies consider your desire to own Boardwalk wholly unacceptable. 

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Their Strategy

Your enemies are clever.[9] They copied the tactics of Civil Rights activists.[10] Now, your opponents are erasing them from your history books.[11] Their recent legislative and judicial victories show that your adversaries are reaping the rewards of their efforts.[12] Your enemies likely believe their victory will be absolute if they can expunge the history of your forebears.

The Counter-Strike

The sports and entertainment worlds have not acquiesced to your enemies’ demands.[13] As we enter the next phase of the streaming wars, alienating marginalized groups is a surefire way to lose.[14] You can leverage the pursuit of profits to your advantage. For example, working at the FDIC was a never-ending party until the Wall Street Journal arrived.[15]The author hopes that soon, every woman will feel safe in the workplace. Perhaps your enemies feel secure because the esports world is not mainstream. The author hopes you show them that they are misreading the tea leaves.

The spotlight is shining brightly upon the women’s sports universe. The WNBA and ESPN plan to capitalize on Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese’s fame.[16] The NWSL is expanding.[17] Private equity firms are investing heavily in the sports world.[18] The NFL is arriving fashionably late to the dance, but their dance card is undoubtedly full.[19] The esports world claims to be unhappy with its dependence upon the Saudis, and the business model needs to be tweaked.[20]Investors not chosen by the major sports leagues will need a date. If DEI is important to you, now may be the time to press the issue. 

Advance your token to Boardwalk.

Image source: Netcompany

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[1] Ajay Rose, Inside the World of Female esports: “It’s a Scary Space for Women’, The Athletic (Jul. 23, 2023), https://theathletic.com/4635621/2023/07/23/inside-the-world-of-female-esports/.

[2] Filing a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOChttps://www.eeoc.gov/filing-charge-discrimination (last visited Apr. 7, 2024).  

[3] Overviewhttps://www.eeoc.gov/overview (last visited Apr. 7, 2024). 

[4] Id.

[5] Robert Draper, America First Legal, a Trump-Aligned Group, Is Spoiling for a Fight, N.Y. Times (Mar. 21, 2024), https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/21/us/politics/stephen-miller-america-first-legal.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare&ugrp=c&pvid=E1F42499-3ECC-4095-9233-0DA8057CA02A&sgrp=c-cb.

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[6] Why Young Men and Women Are Drifting Apart, The Economist (Mar. 13, 2024), https://www.economist.com/international/2024/03/13/why-the-growing-gulf-between-young-men-and-womenMaking Sense of the Gulf Between Young Men and Women, The Economist (Mar. 14, 2024), https://www.economist.com/leaders/2024/03/14/making-sense-of-the-gulf-between-young-men-and-women.

[7] Aparna Rae, White Men’s Role in Advancing Equity and Inclusion, Forbes (Mar. 14, 2024), https://www.forbes.com/sites/aparnarae/2024/03/14/white-mens-role-in-advancing-equity-and-inclusion/?sh=6f4d22b85b5f.

[8] Nicquel Terry Ellis & Catherine Thorbecke, DEI Efforts are Under Siege. Here’s What Experts Say is at Stake, CNN (Jan. 11, 2024), https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/07/us/dei-attacks-experts-warn-of-consequences-reaj/index.html.

[9] Nicholas Confessore, ‘America is Under Attack’: Inside the Anti-D.E.I. Crusade, N.Y. Times (Jan. 20, 2024), https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/01/20/us/dei-woke-claremont-institute.html; Meg Little Reilly, Anti-DEI Bills Rely on Vague Language and Self-Censorship, Forbes (Mar. 5, 2024), https://www.forbes.com/sites/meglittlereilly/2024/03/05/anti-dei-bills-rely-on-vague-language-and-self-censorship/?sh=75b5535b1742.

[10] James Devitt, Bayard Rustin’s Blueprint for Activism—and Perhaps Progresshttps://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2023/august/bayard-rustin-s-blueprint-for-activism-and-perhaps-progress.html (last visited Apr. 7, 2024); Adam Gopnik, Eclipsed in His Era, Bayard Rustin Gets to Shine in Ours, The New Yorker (Nov. 6, 2023), https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/11/13/eclipsed-in-his-era-bayard-rustin-gets-to-shine-in-ours.

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[11] Taifa Natalee Alexander, Tracking the Attack on Critical Race Theory in Education, U.S. News (Apr. 11, 2023), https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2023-04-11/tracking-the-attack-on-critical-race-theory-in-education;  Daniel Golden, Muzzled by DeSantis, Critical Race Theory Professors Cancel Courses or Modify Their Teaching, ProPublica (Jan. 3, 2023), https://www.propublica.org/article/desantis-critical-race-theory-florida-college-professors; Myles Hollingsworth, AP African American Studies and Critical Race Theory Ban in Florida, The Crisis (July 24, 2023), https://naacp.org/articles/ap-african-american-studies-and-critical-race-theory-ban-florida;  David Bernstein, Is Opposition to Critical Race Theory Correlated With Ignorance of Critical Race Theory?, Reason (Apr. 2, 2024), https://apple.news/AQmeDx-k2Te6xfEP5a69ndg.

[12] Jeff Green & Simone Foxman, Why Corporate America Has a Diversity Problem, Bloomberg (Mar. 14, 2024), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-03-14/video-why-corporate-america-has-a-diversity-problem.

[13] Bill King, The Pushback on DEI, Sports Business Journal (Mar. 11, 2024), https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Articles/2024/03/11/dei-pushback; Jeremy W. Peters & Brooks Barnes, The Oscars Now Have D.E.I. Rules, But Some Say It’s Just a Performance, N.Y. Times (Mar. 10, 2024), https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/08/us/oscars-oppenheimer-dei-diversity.html.

[14] Dr. Darnell Hunt & Dr. Ana-Christina Ramon, Diverse Audiences Prop Up A Struggling Theatrical Industry and Demand Diversity on Screen, Forbes (Mar. 7, 2024), https://www.forbes.com/sites/drdarnellhuntanddranachristinaramon/2024/03/07/diverse-audiences-prop-up-a-struggling-theatrical-industry-and-demand-diversity-on-screen/?sh=3ff2cb78742d.

[15] Rebecca Ballhaus, ‘What the Hell is Going on at the FDIC?’, The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 10, 2024), https://www.wsj.com/articles/fdic-6d9e8bf1.

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[16] Jacob Feldman, WNBA Has Big Plans to Ride Women’s Basketball Momentum, Sportico (Apr. 4, 2024), https://www.sportico.com/leagues/basketball/2024/caitlin-clark-wnba-momentum-popularity-draft-marketing-1234773879/; Tom Friend, Engelbert: Clark-Reese Could be the New Bird-Magic, Sports Business Journal (Mar. 3, 2024), https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Articles/2024/03/03/wnba-cathy-engelbert-caitlin-clark-angel-reese.

[17] Cleveland Soccer Group Announces 12k Season-Ticket Pledges for Possible NWSL Expansion Franchise, Sports Business Journal (Apr. 4, 2024), https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Articles/2024/04/04/cleveland-ohio-nwsl-expansion-team-bid?hl=NWSL&sc=0&publicationSource=searchNWSL Enters 2024 Campaign with Renewed Hope Amid Offseason Growth, Sports Business Journal (Mar. 15, 2024), https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Articles/2024/03/15/nwsl-2024-season-preview?hl=NWSL&sc=0&publicationSource=search.

[18] Arctos Partners Raises $4.1B for Investments in Sports, Sports Business Journal (Apr. 2, 2024), https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Articles/2024/04/02/arctos-partners-deals?hl=private+equity&sc=0&publicationSource=search; Abby Schultz, The Wealthy are Turning to Sports for Diversification, Barron’s (Jan. 2, 2024), https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-wealthy-are-turning-to-sports-for-diversification-9726aaac.

[19] Ben Fischer, Explaining the Caution on Private Equity, Sports Business Journal (Mar. 28, 2024),https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Articles/2024/03/28/explaining-nfl-private-equity-caution?hl=private+equity&sc=0&publicationSource=search.  

[20] Asli Pelit, In Fading Esports Business, Saudi Money Still Flows, Sportico (Mar. 15, 2024), https://www.sportico.com/business/sponsorship/2024/esports-investment-saudi-arabia-1234770868/.

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  • Takaze Turner

    Takaze A. Turner, a distinguished figure at the intersection of entertainment and law, showcases a profound passion for anime, cinema, and gaming. His academic journey commenced at the Ohio State University, where he excelled in English, earning his degree with cum laude honors. Furthering his legal education, Takaze achieved his Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri School of Law, before embarking on specialized legal studies. He has since attained an LL.M. in Business Law from Florida State University College of Law and an LL.M. in Entertainment Law from the University of Miami School of Law. Currently, he is enhancing his expertise by pursuing an LL.M. in Taxation Law at the same institution. Takaze’s multifaceted legal education, coupled with his deep-rooted interests in entertainment, positions him uniquely within the legal landscape. His academic accomplishments reflect a dedicated pursuit of knowledge across various sectors of law, particularly those intersecting with the business and entertainment industries. At the core of his professional journey is a commitment to understanding and navigating the complex legalities surrounding entertainment and media, ensuring he remains a pivotal figure in legal discussions related to these dynamic fields. His ongoing pursuit of an LL.M. in Taxation Law further exemplifies his dedication to broadening his legal acumen, underscoring his role as a key contributor to the legal community, especially in areas where law meets entertainment and technology.

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Launch of Deviant Legal: A Law Firm for the Video Game Industry in the Netherlands

Founded by René Otto, a seasoned lawyer with an impressive track record and a deep passion for video games, Deviant Legal emerges as the first full-service law firm in the Netherlands, dedicated exclusively to serving the legal needs of the video game, esports, and content creation sectors.

With its official launch on 10 April 2024, Deviant Legal introduces a new paradigm in legal services, characterized by accessibility, inclusivity, and a profound understanding of the video games industry. Otto’s vision for the firm stems from his belief in the necessity of legal services that are not only of high quality but also personalized to the nuances of the international games and esports ecosystem.

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Rene Otto - Deviant Legal

A Remote-First Approach

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Deviant Legal is its remote-first structure. By embracing remote operations, the firm not only aligns itself with the global nature of the video game industry but also ensures that its services are more accessible and cost-effective for clients. This innovative approach enables Deviant Legal to connect seamlessly with clients and team members around the world, offering flexibility and scalability that traditional law firms struggle to match.

“With Deviant Legal, I believe the legal services provided can be better tailored to the international nature of the games and esports ecosystem. Because of our remote set-up, we are able to connect with clients and team members worldwide. Next to our core team, we work with a network of carefully selected remote (freelance) lawyers, which allows us to scale when needed. While we primarily focus on Dutch & European law first, we will be seriously researching international expansion opportunities.René Otto

Emphasizing Accessibility and Inclusion

Accessibility is at the core of Deviant Legal’s mission. Otto and his team are committed to making legal services approachable for everyone, regardless of their background or financial situation. This commitment extends beyond mere words, as Deviant Legal plans to roll out initiatives aimed at promoting legal access and reducing the intimidation factor often associated with seeking legal counsel.

The firm also places a high value on diversity and inclusion, fostering an environment where lawyers can be their authentic selves. This philosophy not only enriches the firm’s culture but also positions it as a desirable destination for talented legal professionals who may feel out of place in more traditional settings. René Otto states:

“One of the core values of Deviant Legal is accessibility and inclusion. I believe that everyone should have access to a lawyer. We will announce some initiatives to promote that relatively soon. Additionally, accessibility means that lawyers should be way more approachable than they are currently. As a result, we work with authentic lawyers which are ‘down-to-earth’ and who ‘come as they are’. This does not only provide value for clients, but also for the legal profession itself. On a daily basis, I meet lawyers who love their work as a lawyer, but do not feel at home at the culture of the legal profession. This is a shame as it leads to an ongoing and unneeded brain drain. By giving these lawyers who do not adhere to the norm a place to call home, I believe Deviant Legal will win the war on talent”.

A Firm to Watch

The unique approach and specialized focus of Deviant Legal have not gone unnoticed. The firm has been highlighted by the prestigious international ranking LEGAL 500 as a “firm to watch,” and its founder, René Otto, has been named a “Next Generation Partner.”

René Otto’s journey from Van Iersel Luchtman advocaten to establishing Deviant Legal showcases that there is need for a dedicated full service boutique servicing the video game industry. René Otto also holds roles as a board member of Breda Game City and an ambassador for Women in Games.

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  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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