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‘NBA Live 19’ allows mixed gender games with NBA and WNBA players, a video game first



NBA Live 19
Elena Delle Donne and her
WNBA colleagues are front and center in “NBA Live

NBA Live 19/EA

  • “NBA Live 19” lets men and women play together on
    mixed-gender teams, a first for a professional sports game.
  • “Live 19” also allows you to make custom female players for
    the first time, and both custom characters and real-world WNBA
    players can mix it up with the men in the game’s streetball
  • Last year’s “Live” was the first basketball game to include
    WNBA teams, but they could only play against each other.
  • In “NBA Live 19,” women feature more prominently in the
    game’s core modes, but there’s still a long way to go towards
    equal representation in these games. 

This year’s “NBA Live 19” breaks new ground as the first
professional sports game to offer mixed gender competition,
continuing a progressive trend from developer EA Sports.

Equal representation of both genders has been a struggle for the
video game industry, with major developers often more interested
in pleasing core male gamers than engaging the ever-growing
audience of women playing video games. But EA Sports has quietly
been taking strides to create games that reflect a global
athletic community and include women competing at the highest
level of their respective fields of competition.

EA Sports’s NHL franchise was the first to allow female
create-a-players in a professional sports game in 2011. In 2015,
EA added 12 international women’s teams to “FIFA 16,” another
first. The following year, female fighters entered the octagon
for “EA Sports UFC 2,” with Ronda Rousey, the UFC Women’s
Bantamweight Champion at the time, sharing the cover with Men’s
Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor.

UFC2 Rhonda Rousey
Rousey was a cover star for “UFC 2,” which featured a full career
mode for women fighters.

Rhonda Rousey
was a cover star for “UFC 2,” which featured a full career mode
for women fighters.

So, maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise when EA announced
last year that “NBA Live 18” would feature all 12 WNBA teams and
their rosters.

The move was announced just a month before the game’s release,
but came as a welcome addition for fans of the WNBA and women’s
sports in general. It was the first time WNBA teams were included
in a video game in the league’s 21-year history. However, the
WNBA teams were limited to only playing each other in the game,
and the announcers did not reference specific players during
commentary. Despite their inclusion, the WNBA portion of the “NBA
Live 18” seemed more like a fun novelty than a part of the core

NBA Live 19
“NBA Live 19” includes all
12 WNBA teams along with the East and West All-Star

NBA Live 19/EA

“NBA Live 19” addresses this issue by placing women front and
center in the game’s career mode, dubbed The One. Players can
create and play as a woman or man, and are placed alongside mixed
gender teams of NBA and WNBA players. As a game mode, The One is
focused on building the best possible streetball team to dominate
courts across the world. Facing off against different stars will
allow you to unlock them for your team, encouraging players to
experiment and find the best combination of men and women.

NBA Live 19
Both WNBA and NBA stars
can be unlocked and added to your team as you

NBA Live 19/EA

Male and female players are judged by the same attributes, and
there’s no apparent gender disparity when playing mixed-gender
games. Player abilities are still based on their real life
counterparts, but men and women don’t have any trouble squaring
up against one another anywhere on the court. The place where
things seemed to differ the most was height; taller players had
an easier time coming down with rebounds near the basket, as they
should. That said, my 5-foot, 5-inch player had no problem
dunking on the boys during her first game.

NBA Live 19
My create-a-player had no
problem taking it to the rack against the men in her

NBA Live 19/EA

While inclusion of women is much more satisfying than last year,
there’s still room for growth towards equal representation in
“NBA Live 19.”

WNBA teams are still limited to a single exhibition mode, meaning
that fans cannot play through a full season of WNBA basketball
the way they might with a regular NBA team. Likewise, playing as
a woman in The One mode means that you are relegated to
streetball courts, rather than being able to join your favorite
WNBA team and compete in a more traditional version of pro

The progress is definitely appreciated though. Hopefully EA’s
continued dedication to including women in their sports games
will lead more developers to acknowledge the vast number of women
who are interested in sports and playing video games.

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