Although other digital-game genres have received increasing amounts of scholarly attention, the digital sports game remains relatively unexamined. This essay explores one of the most prominent and nearly ubiquitous features of the digital sports game, the player-attribute-rating system. By explaining the nature of the rating system and how it functions and then situating it in a theoretical and historical context, the author traces out some of the implications of the system’s operation. As part of this argument, the essay examines Electronic Arts’ popular football action simulation, FIFA Soccer ’09, as a case study to illustrate how the rating system positions gamers to understand sport in and through this new medium.
The author is with the Dept. of Communication, University of Houston–Victoria, Victoria, TX.