ABC News’ John Berman, Joel Siegel and Bradley Blackburn Report:
NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. The most important hockey fight so far this year was not won with fists but words – from a 90-pound, 14-year-old girl.
Lexi Peters loves hockey — on ice and onscreen. Not only does she excel while playing for the Niagara Junior Purple Eagles, an after-school team outside Buffalo, N.Y., she’s pretty good when she plays hockey video games in her basement, too.
But when Lexi played the hugely popular NHL games made by Electronic Arts, something really bothered her:
A feature allows a player to become a character in the game. But Lexi soon realized that this virtual character could only be a guy – not a girl.
With more than 65,000 girls now playing hockey in the U.S., she did not think that made sense. So she did something about it. On the advice of her father, she wrote a letter to Electronic Arts, the creator of the game.
“It is unfair to women and girl hockey players all around the world,” Lexi wrote. “I have to be represented by a man … and that is not fun.”
“Women’s hockey is a fast-growing sport,” she added. “I am confident that I’m not the only woman interested in the opportunity to create herself in the game.”
Several weeks later, Lexi received an unexpected email from the senior producer for EA Sports’ NHL games, David Littman.
“Hi Lexi,” the email began. “Do you know what? We agree with you!”
Electronic Arts promised to create a female avatar option for players. But it was what came next in the email that really stunned Lexi.
“I was thinking that you could be the model for the player (meaning that the defaulted female head would be based on your head/face),” Littman wrote. “If that sounds good to you, email me back, and we can discuss further details.”
Lexi and her father, Tim Peters, almost couldn’t believe it.
“When I first read it, I was like, ‘There’s no way Lexi! This can’t be true,’” her dad said.
“And she’s like, ‘I know dad, I don’t understand it, either.’ I said, ‘Well, then, let’s just send David another email back and just confirm everything,’ and it just snowballed from there.”
Lexi’s reaction? “Pretty cool!” she said. “It’s like, there are really no words to describe it.”
At the request of Electronic Arts, Lexi and her father sent a series of photos of her, taken at all different angles.
And so when Electronic Arts released NHL 12 early this fall, Lexi was the face of the female player – right down to the birthmark over her left eye.
Onscreen, she can now skate with NHL greats like Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.
“It’s weird at first, but you get used to it,” said Lexi, who’s now in the ninth grade. “You’re just not used to seeing yourself on television, but it’s really funny and cool.”
“It was a proud moment to be Lexi’s dad,” Tim Peters said. “I mean, I don’t consider Lexi any more special than my other two kids, but it was pretty awesome, going, ‘That’s my daughter!’ Nobody else’s daughter is in that video game.”
For Lexi, there also was an important lesson, one she will take with her the rest of her life.
“If you have something to say, and you think it’s important, go for it!” she said.