Around the world, national sports leagues are still struggling with accepting LGBTQ athletes. But Sega’s upcoming soccer team management simulator Football Manager 2018 is tackling LGBTQ soccer players in a particularly realistic way. Developer Sports Interactive is adding gay players into the game, and they can come out publicly, giving the player monetary support.
Soccer team managers will receive a notification in their email account when a gay player comes out, revealing their story to the press, according to the BBC. This leads to an increase in profits for the team, as LGBTQ fans will flock to support the manager’s team.
“Part of the reason we decided to do this is because there are gay footballers,” director Miles Jacobson explained to the BBC. “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.”
There’s a few things to keep in mind with how the game’s coming out system will work. For one, gay players won’t come out if they’re stationed with a team in a country that outlaws homosexuality. Sports Interactive even “had to take some legal advice” to properly convey whether a soccer player would (or wouldn’t) come out in a given country based on its laws.
The email system makes sure the process is straightforward, too, so it feels like a manager is simply receiving a heads-up about a new press report on their team. It’s not too drawn out, nor does it feel like Sports Interactive is patting itself on the back for the idea. It just comes off as an everyday part of the sport.
“It’s not a message that everyone is going to see in their game,” Jacobson said. “It is quite rare, but we want it to be seen as a positive thing.”
This isn’t the first time that Football Manager tackled real-world politics. In Football Manager 2017, the game featured several Brexit scenarios, which the BBC also reported on extensively. Players will get to experience the new gay soccer player feature when Football Manager 2018 launches on Nov. 10 for PC, Mac, and Linux.