‘It’s in the game’: FIFA videogames and the misuse of history

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Videogames are a still understudied component of sports history despite their growing importance in sporting and leisure fields. Videogames help engage and include sporting fans, are more interactive than spectating and, in some ways, help solidify sporting narratives. As videogames grew in popularity and marketability in the 2000s, developers sought ways to connect their games with their respective sports’ histories. This is most notably seen in the inclusion of ‘classic’ or ‘legends’ teams within videogames. Since the early 2000s, football, rugby, cricket, and wrestling, among others, have begun to include legendary athletes and teams within their games. Studying the popular FIFA videogame franchise produced by Electronic Arts (EA), this article brings together several strands of research to examine the use, and abuse, of history within the franchise. In doing so, it argues that EA has largely used history problematically for profit motives. While superficially, history is used in an anodyne manner in these games, the kinds of history told, and the linking of historical athletes to in-play purchases, create various problems for how history is told among popular sporting audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalSport in History
Early online date29 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished online - 29 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • FIFA
  • video game
  • public history
  • historiography
  • football


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