The 2018 edition of the popular Football Manager video game series will feature new-generation players coming out as gay.
Elite professional football has seen a small number of players going public about their sexuality after they retire, but there is still considerable homophobia within the sport.
Football Manager developer Sports Interactive is hoping to help change that with the new feature. The computer-generated, fictional “new-gen” stars who appear at the end of each virtual season will, for the first time ever, include gay players, says the BBC.
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According to the company’s studio director, Miles Jacobson, gamers will get a news item in their in-game inbox if a player at their club comes out. Soon after, the gamer will be informed of a boost in the club’s revenue, thanks, in part, to new attention from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Jacobson told the BBC that Sports Interactive came up with the idea after seeking advice from Kick It Out, footballer’s anti-discrimination group.
Jacobson said: “We know from the amount of professionals that there has to be players who are gay but feel they don’t want to come out. I find it weird that it’s still a problem in football, so we decided to try and show people that coming out isn’t a big deal and can be a positive thing.
“I just think it’s crazy that in 2017 we are in a world where people can’t be themselves.”
Jacobson acknowledges that not everyone will welcome the new feature.
“It’s not a message that everyone is going to see in their game,” he says. “We also had to take some legal advice, because in some countries that are less forward-thinking than the UK, it is still illegal to be gay.
“In those cases we have simply respected their laws, so if a player is based in one of those countries, the player won’t come out.
“Being gay is just a totally normal thing in life, and it’s the right thing to put it in the game because it’s something that we’re going to be seeing in the future.”
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