A recent beta for Football Manager 2018 showed off a pretty interesting, unadvertised new feature: an in-game event that has computer-generated players come out as gay. The news offers a boost to your club’s revenue due to interest from the LGBT community, but otherwise is pretty insignificant in regards to gameplay.
Find out how Football Manager 2018 is making it easier to track information about your team.
But the inclusion of gay players is still a pretty major step for the football sim, particularly considering modern British football’s lack of openly gay male players. Sports Interactive are hoping to do their part for inclusiveness by simply adding the occasional possibility in-game - hence why the information only came about as a result of the beta.
“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,” director Miles Jacobson tells BBC Sport. “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.”
This will only apply to generated players, due to obvious legal issues with making even procedurally-generated comments on the personal lives of real-life players. Football Manager still avoids some of the stickier issues - for example, in countries where homosexuality is illegal, players there simply won’t come out.
Still, Jacobson says the response from fans has been largely positive, and that’s heartening to hear. “I look forward to the day where people who work in football feel 100% comfortable with who they are, whatever their ethnicity, religion, or sexuality.”