Madden NFL’92-’16 and Divorce
Football isn’t nuclear physics, but it’s not so simple that you can make it simple. It takes some explaining to get it across. ~ John Madden
Madden NFL is probably – considering it started in 1992 and has been updated every year since – the bestselling video game ever. It started off as a fairly simple game with so-so graphics, bad music, worse sound effects, and was pretty easy to beat after some repetition.
It’s first few versions had an ambulance that rolled on screen after a big hit and drove the stricken player (unidentifiable for the most part, there were no names on the jerseys) off the field. In the age of concussion awareness, the ambulance is long gone. As are, by the way, concussions – they were erased from the game in the early 2000’s at John Madden’s request.
But – it’s a big but – it was (and is) fun. Flashy and fun. Playing it gave fans a bit of a glimpse into what it took to call plays in a NFL game. Remember, by the way, that Madden came out before the heyday of fantasy football. Back then fantasy football was an arcane paper and pencil (and lots of erasers) game played by groups of friends pouring over newspapers to find statistics every week. In the primitive Internet Age, it took real dedication.
Over the years, Madden’s graphics improved to the point where they rival the real thing; the play lists for offense and defense have lengthened considerably; there’s much more control over the players, the music is better, there’s the running commentary from real TV announcers.
Madden’16 is the 24th edition of the game. That’s 24 years and a few generations that have played it, buy the new version the second it comes out every year. A funny thing has happened along the way, as has been commented on by Jay Kang of the New York Times (among others): a lot of the people who have been playing Madden NFL over the years think they are football experts. They flood the airways with complaints about coaches and player based on what they have learned playing Madden over the years.
If you step back and look at it, it makes sense. It’s not really the Madden players’ faults. The game has all the bells, whistles, uses all the neat NFL nomenclature and certainly gives the appearance of complexity. The game invites players to believe it’s the real thing. But, it’s not. Not when compared to actually coaching a NFL team. Any NFL team.
Love it, hate it, ignore it, but there’s no getting away from the fact that coaching in the NFL is amazingly complex. It’s not ‘land a man on the moon complex’, but, technology wise, it’s not that far off. Think of it, the NFL has assistant coaches to the assistant coaches, all with their own specialties. They have to work together, then work with the players, then work together some more before they ever even get to the game.
In Madden NFL ’16, the person with the controller controls every aspect of the game. And, of course, nothing real intrudes on this – weather, injuries, emotions, changing strategy on the fly, adapting to what the other team’s doing. So much more – is absent from the game.
So, let’s call it the ‘Madden NFL Effect’. It’s harmless when your cousin goes off half-way through Thanksgiving dinner on why the Lions coaches should be fired en masse and replaced by people you’ve never heard of, or why the Cowboys used the wrong blitz package because every time they used it in Madden’16 it didn’t work.
But, when the same cousin fills you in on all the research he did during his divorce, then tells you all about the custody case you have … or the custody case you don’t have, it is a problem.