It was bound to happen eventually.
I don't know how many people who read the content on this site play video games. If you don't I feel the need to draw attention to the games player ratings system. I would also like to illustrate how said ratings system could influence fan opinion of said players using real world parallels from the past iterations of the NHL series as developed by EA Sports.
Starting off with the ratings system the game takes all present players in the NHL, AHL, ECHL and gives them an assigned rating out of 99 based upon their skills and the role that they play. For example, a player like Conner McDavid is rated as a Franchise Player with a rating in the high 90's. Likewise, a player like Mike Condon is rated as a Fringe Goaltender with a rating that fluctuates between the high 70's and low 80's. But this system isn't limited to the Professional leagues.
The latest iteration of the game allows for players to play as teams in various European leagues as well as teams in the QMJHL, OHL and WHL. I could play a game as the Victoria Royals against the Prince George Cougars and have the actual players on those teams in the game. This feature has been a part of past games since at least 2012 and these players also have player ratings assigned to them.
For example, now former Victoria Royals player Tyler Soy hat a role designation as bottom six forward with a rating that fluctuates in the high 60's and low 70's. This does not mean that that particular player will always stay between those numbers as, over time, players develop and grow gaining a higher number rating. However, a bottom six forward designation like the one given to Tyler Soy means he most likely never exceed a number rating higher than the low 80's.
That does not mean that players can't exceed the number limits assigned to their roles. In franchise mode playthroughs as the Ottawa Senators Goalie Mike Condon has attained a number rating normally attainable to an elite goalie. But those instances are few and far between. As for number ratings influencing fan opinion of a certain player I want to cite a certain example.
On March 20th 2013 the NHL recognized the immense critical and commercial success of the game NHL 94 in a news article on their website. In the article now retired NHL player Jeremy Roenick is quoted as saying "I would say one out of three people mention '94 Sega. They said one of three things:One, 'you couldn't beat the Chicago Blackhawks because of Jeremy Roenick.' No 2, 'I got through college playing Jeremy Roenick in '94 Sega.' The third is it was a rule that you couldn't beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the game, because they were that unstoppable."
These games can influence fan opinion of players before they even enter the NHL. I find myself seeking out players through drafts that could develop into top level players over those whose ratings don't exceed bottom level players. If Jeremy Roenick cites that game as a reason why he got as popular as he did then there is real power here. An entire generation of future NHL players will be rating before they even enter the league.
Some will be famous through traditional media channels like TSN and The Hockey News while others could be discovered through the NHL game series. Some though, could end up with unfavorable opinions from the fans because of the NHL game series. Who wants to have a journeymen player play for your team when you could have a top level prospect instead?
Note: I am mindful of how certain organizations are run and how it could affect a players draft ratings based upon the competency of said teams management.
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