Tiger Woods might still be the name on the cover of the video game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 but ever since Thanksgiving Night 2009, EA SPORTS has been chipping away at the legendary golfer’s status as a pitchman. When he hasn’t been absent from the cover altogether (Tiger Woods ’12), he’s had to share the cover with another up-and-coming golfer (’11 and ’13) or even an old guy (this year). This kind of passive-aggressive nibble at the greatest golfer of his generation became a bigger chomp with the announcement of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14: The Masters Historic Edition. That’s an incredibly long winded name for a version of the game that will include the ability to play The Masters at Augusta National as it was laid out in 1934. It wasn’t even called The Masters back then; in 1934 it was just the regular old Inaugural Augusta National Invitation Tournament.
Why is this a move against Tiger Woods? Because the big new thing in this year’s game (the special, you-should-pay-more-money for it edition) is to feature a re-creation of a tournament and golf course that Tiger Woods would not be allowed to play.
Lexi Thompson is a contemporary female golfer being added to Tiger Woods 14 too. She wouldn’t be allowed to play at Augusta in 1934 either.
The spin from EA SPORTS will likely be something about how video games allow players to interact with sports and history in their own unique way and changing history is part of that, blah blah blah. Which is a really wonderful component of video games. They’re all about interacting with certain places and times; some are real, some are imagined. If that’s the case, though, then surely EA SPORTS would lead with and make a bigger deal about the fact that –through their game– players can undo the backwards and socially corrosive traditions of The Masters and Augusta National by putting Tiger Woods and Lexi Thompson in a time and place that did not happen. The hard work of allowing players to do that in a video game is already done. The harder work of standing for something meaningful in today’s world is a time and place that could effect sales of the game. So to EA SPORTS, creating the alternate video game reality is something that should help sales but talking about the reality that’s being altered is not to be mentioned.