If the following isn’t reason enough to spearhead a mainstream Tecmo Bowl revival, I don’t know what is. The New York Times’ Allan Schwartz, whose tireless coverage on the impact of head injuries has been largely responsible for the subject receiving such widespread attention, reports that Electronic Arts’ Madden video game franchise will extend the lust for realism to something not even remotely fun.
Madden NFL 12, the coming version of the eerily true-to-life N.F.L. video game played by millions of gamers, will be realistic enough not only to show players receiving concussions, but also to show any player who sustains one being sidelined for the rest of the game — no exceptions. Beyond that, in the background, the game’s announcers will explain that the player was removed because of the seriousness of head injuries.
Player animations, now sophisticated enough to depict Peyton Manning’s throwing motion and Randy Moss’s gait, will not display helmet-to-helmet tackles, hits to the heads of defenseless players or dangerous headfirst tackling, said Phil Frazier, the executive producer of Madden 12.
Previous versions of the Madden series showed players receiving concussions and being allowed to stay on the field. When those players are removed now, commentary from the announcers Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth will underscore why.
EA has not always been so sensitive toward head injuries. In the 1992 version of its N.H.L. game, players who were checked hard or hit their heads on the ice could be shown unconscious in growing pools of blood. (The feature was quickly removed.) In the Madden game, ambulances used to drive onto the field and run over players.
I’m especially grateful for the last excerpted paragraph above, as it completely negates the need for a Phil Mushnick column on this matter. I’m certain the producers of Madden 12 have only the most noble of intentions, but if there’s a primary goal of authenticity, shouldn’t this August’s version of the game feature depictions of NFLPA members playing golf, mulling over indie wrestling auditions or angrily cursing every time Roger Goodell appears on the big screen TV at Scores?