The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
True story. About 4 or maybe 6 hours ago (maybe longer
depending on when I actually get to publishing this) I was at the gym, running
on a treadmill. I don't know that I would actually go to the gym if I wasn't in
the military and didn't have a semi-annual physical readiness test breathing
down my neck, but I'd like to think I would. I don't mind exercise. I kinda
like jogging and biking. I used to play football with the neighborhood kids and
always liked basketball even though I wasn't all that good at it. Anyway, the
treadmills at the Navy gym I go to are pretty nice. Big and sturdy so you don't
wobble around. They're also equipped little television screens and audio jacks
so you can watch cartoons or other programming on TV in an effort to make you forget
about all the pain you're in come mile 4 or 5. I recalled this weekend being
the NFL season opener, so I had ESPN on to watch the highlights. Seemed kind of
stereotypical and even a little fake...some guy working out at the gym watching ESPN,
but I still chuckled at the thought (well, in my defense I was wearing my
Commodore Amiga t-shirt, so I was representing my roots). Trust me, if they had
cool cartoons on or maybe G4TV available, I would have certainly tuned that in.
But I was pretty much limited to daytime talk shows...no; daytime soap operas...no;
Dora the Explorer...um, no; or every news agency talking about politics...not only
no but...ahem, you get the point. So ESPN it was.
What the casual observer didn't see was I was listening to
the latest Game Informer podcast while I was sweating my tail off...Episode 123
that included an interview with Corey May from Ubisoft, who was there promoting
Assassin's Creed III. You'll have to forgive my inability to recollect the
specific details about the conversation as I was focused more on breathing than
who asked the question, but somebody asked Corey if he was playing the latest
Madden game or maybe it was the newest NBA title. I dunno - it was definitely
one of the stick and ball sports games from EA Sports I think. Corey chuckled and
replied no, that he didn't really engage in sports, video game or real.
Then it occurred to me, neither do I. Not only do I not play
any sports video games, I don't even really watch them on TV (well except for
maybe NASCAR, but some would argue that's not a real sport). I don't have a
favorite team; I can't tell you any stats about a particular player; and
couldn't tell you who was in the Superbowl last year. I don't know how many
Madden games there have been (although I do remember getting NFL Gameday when I
bought the Playstation at its release only because it was one of a handful of
titles that were still on the shelf). To illustrate how horrible I am, I recall
playing one of the NBA games (NBA Live 96 maybe?) with a friend and I was the
Orlando Magic and was trying to use
Shaquille O'Neal to shoot three pointers (if that tells you how long ago this
was). Apparently the chances of him hitting that shot are next to nothing? Forwards,
Guards? I don't even know what that means? The positions have titles? I didn't
know, but I did get lots of laughs from some onlookers watching us play. I've
tried to play the football games too, and it never fails. I think I'm picking a
running play and end up throwing the ball, usually an interception. My opponent
will look at me with a puzzled expression and I simply reply, "What? I was
trying to run the ball."
So yeah, suffice it to say when it comes to sports games, I
know nothing about them and admittedly suck at them. This is true whether we're
talking about video games or real life. But that doesn't explain how I can jog
and watch ESPN, or go to Buffalo Wild Wings and sit captivated with all the
screens displaying various sports events, or go to a place like Dave &
Buster's and play the "Shoot To Win" Basketball arcade game. And yes, from time
to time, I'll even give them a go in video game fashion. Maybe it's genetic or
somehow engrained in our minds that despite not being interested in the subject
matter, if it is in our view we must watch it or play it.
So if I'm not a sports guy why in the world would I blog
about them? I suppose because despite not being a gamer that partakes in sports
games, I am and have always been kind of surprised there isn't a bigger audience
for them. If ever there was a game that was perfectly aligned to be a video
game it's the sports genre.
Sports games are all about competition. There is typically a
winner and a loser. I almost didn't write this blog, but I saw this billboard
with a cool quote, ironically enough promoting the NFL season, and it read...
If winning was easy then losers would do it.
So I told myself, "Okay, fine! I'll write the blog, but only
if I can use that quote in it."
That's not entirely accurate, but the point is most of our
online games instill a certain amount of competition. And sometimes when a team
is involved and you're trying to eliminate the other team, the competition is
even fiercer. Don't think gamers can be competitive? Go to a video game
tournament and sit in the back. Most gamers I know that play online can be
every bit as competitive as professional athletes playing real sports. Imagine
how competitive it must be to combine the two...competitive gamers playing competitive
I'll never forget when NASCAR driver Mike Skinner was
interviewed about trying to win and he said he would wreck his mom to win his
first race. I don't know about you, but when I play a racing game against
somebody else, and it comes down to the final lap and I'm either winning or
have a shot at winning, I'll do whatever I can to win. I'll sling turtles or
bananas, draft off of them and try and sling shot around them or bump them and
get 'em loose.
You'd think developing a sports game would be easy money.
Gone are the challenges of creating a compelling story, interesting characters
and basic fundamentals. A sports game already has all of that created for you -
players and bios, stadiums and arenas around the world, all of the rules and
mechanics of game play. All the developer has to do is generate the content and
stitch it together - the hard part has already been done.
Now, I'm not suggesting nobody likes them, I know there are plenty
of gamers out there who do enjoy them. But the general attitude (right or
wrong) seems to be these games are not all that popular. And it just seems like
sports video games would be perfect - think about how many sports fans out
there. Enough to fill entire stadiums...yet you never really seem to hear the
industry get excited when the next Madden comes out, and glancing at Game
Informer's cover gallery...nope, I don't see any sports games gracing the coveted
cover in the past year or so.
OMG, what's happening to me? I just blogged about sports
games. I think viewing the blogs every day and seeing so many spam blogs
advertising "Watch & Enjoy live San Diego vs Oakland" is finally affecting
Seriously though...I really don't know why sports games aren't
more popular...I've played Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and Killer Instinct for hours
on end, but Fight Night or UFC Undisputed do nothing for me. I'll play the
floor models at Best Buy if it's loaded, but that's about the extent of my
playtime. I'll play Capture the Flag (CTF) in all sorts of different games from
Team Fortress 2 to Halo, which is essentially the same things as football, but
a new release of Madden doesn't even cause me to raise a brow. Baseball you
say? I play baseball...well sort of. The Scout class in Team Fortress 2 is
equipped with the Sandman...a ball and bat that can be used to stun your opponent
with a successful hit to the noggin. I
couldn't tell you anything about the latest installment of MLB, assuming that's
even the title of the game.
I guess the reason I don't play sports games is because the
similarities between them and the games I do play are a lot closer than what I
might realize. Player versus player or team versus team...battling it out to
achieve a goal. When you break it down to its simplest form, sports games are
not all that different than other genres and given the choice I'd much rather
shoot my adversary than tackle them.