If you can’t get enough of me, go to When The Reminisce (like you don’t go there already) for my top 25 beats of all-time (minus the three I forgot about).
The History Of John Madden Football
by Mark McClusky
Back in 1986, Trip Hawkins and a group of programmers from his fledgling video game company Electronic Arts approached a former NFL head coach about working with them on a football video game.
Sounds great, said John Madden, who was broadcasting for CBS Sports at the time. But Madden wanted to be clear on just one thing: Unlike most football video games at the time, which didn’t use the full number of players on a team, Madden insisted that any game with his name on it be authentic. “If it’s not 11-on-11, it’s not real football,” Madden said.
The programmers protested that they couldn’t do it. “Then come back to me when you can,” said Madden.
The conditional OK delayed the first version of Madden NFL Football for two years. The game eventually launched in 1989 on the Apple II personal computer. In the 14 years since, Electronic Arts has sold more than 30 million copies of Madden, making it the best-selling sports video game title in the industry’s history.
“John threw down the gauntlet when he told us that we had to do 11-on-11 game play,” said Chip Lange, EA’s vice president of marketing. “That kernel of realism was what pushed us to the authenticity that you see in the game today. We still push to make everything as realistic as possible.”
The game, and especially the philosophy behind it, caused a revolution in the industry.
Before Madden NFL Football, sports games weren’t particularly focused on realism. Madden’s insistence on having all 11 members of each team on the field changed that. Games like Madden (and those that followed in its footsteps from EA and its competitors) became more sports simulations than just games, evolving into the incredibly intricate products we see today on platforms like the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
“EA has never been satisfied with Madden,” says Bryan Intihar, associate editor at Electronic Gaming Monthly. “They have a formula and they keep to it, but they add little things every year to make it more realistic — you feel like you’re more and more on the field with each passing year. No other game has been able to immerse you in that way.”
Over its 14-year history, the game has been released on more than a dozen different platforms. It’s been played by NFL players and fans, used on television to demonstrate the intricacies of football, and run by coaches to teach the game to kids.
Along the way, it’s helped EA become the largest video game publisher in the world. Also, it has turned Madden into a cultural icon.
Madden NFL Football, and other sports video games, create a world where trash talking among friends is the norm, and where four guys in a frat room, or even online, play their own Super Bowls or World Series each night.
That competitive dynamic has been something that EA has designed the game around.
“I worked on Madden on the Sega Genesis,” Lange said, “and you started to see this competitive gaming lifestyle emerge. It was guys hanging out on a Friday night, it was social and cool and competitive. It’s kind of like the poker party of the next decade.”
The game has also become a particular favorite among a discerning set of consumers — NFL players themselves. In fact, when each year’s game comes out, those players immediately check to see how their in-game ratings have changed.
“You always look to see how you, as a player, have been increased or decreased,” said defensive end Simeon Rice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “It feels good to be rated high and be one of the No. 1 players in the game.”
According to EA’s Lange, the release of the game each year is a big event for the players.
“We send advance copies of Madden to some NFL players who are on our A-list,” he said. “These are guys who make millions of dollars, but there’s nothing that’s cooler to them than getting the game early, or being on the cover of the game. It’s not something they can buy; it’s about their stature in the sport.”
“Madden is the closest I’ve ever seen in a game to what’s really out there,” said running back Clinton Portis of the Denver Broncos. “In some ways, you can put on a game tape, and play Madden, and if you’ve got a good tape, you wouldn’t know the difference.”
For the release of Madden NFL 2004, some stores are holding midnight Madden events, where they will put the game on sale in the first moments of Aug. 14. Some video game stores will send their employees to the airport to pick up the store’s copies of the game, instead of trusting UPS to deliver them.
The game is even in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Earlier this summer, the Hall of Fame unveiled an interactive exhibit that would let museum visitors play Madden. No other video game has ever been put into a professional sports Hall of Fame in this way.
As the NFL’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past 14 years, the video game has benefited. And the video game has allowed people to immerse themselves in the sport in ways that weren’t imaginable a decade and a half ago.
John Madden isn’t in the Hall of Fame for his coaching career, but now his game has been honored by the institution. And, in what might be an even greater tribute to the impact of the game that bears his name, he’s become a generic noun.
“People don’t refer to football video games as ‘football video games’ when they’re at a store,” Intihar said. “They ask for Madden.”
Trav’s Madden History
How many of you took the day off of work just to cop the new Madden and play it all day? C’mon, I know at least a few of you did. Trust, me if I was on salary and could get away with it, I sure the hell would have. As it sits right now, I’m probably not even going to pick it up today so if you want to donate to the “help Trav buy Madden” fund, just use the email address by my contact name for the pay pal address….hahaha.
I’m not what you’d call a “gamer”. About the only games I buy anymore are “Madden”, “NCAA Football” and the occasional baseball game and car racing game or when a new Grand Theft Auto comes out, I’ll pick that up as well. Thats about it. That being said, I haven’t missed a year of Madden since “Madden ’97″ when I picked up for my Sega. Since that initial purchase, Madden has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment and dozens of broken controllers (cheating piece of shit).
Here is a little run down of each year I’ve had the game. I don’t remember all the specifics of the game itself, some of them run into each other as far gameplay then of course, some years run into each other for me…but it’s been the center piece of many memory.
1996 (Madden NFL 97)- After playing Tecmo Bowl on SNES in my early years and some football game that I don’t remember the name of for two years on my Sega, I finally decide to check out Madden and see what all the fuss was. I had read about hip-hop artists playing it in “The Source” and figured I’d better get my game on. I had already purchased EA Sports NCAA 97 for that year and was enjoying it. At first, Madden wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t used to a football game that indepth (I doubt it, I could hold my own on NCAA) or if it was just hard as hell to play against the computer that year. I had moved down to Salt Lake City to try to finish up my degree (that was the first attempt, I’m on the second attempt currently) and didn’t really know anyone at first, so I spent a lot of time playing football on the Sega, but it was NCAA that was my game of choice, even though Boise State was still a Div 1 AA school at this time and NOT on the game…boooooo. At the end of January of, I would become roomates with a guy I was bartending with. Him and I would soon become best friends (he is still my best friend to this day) and Madden has always been HUGE in our friendship. This was the start of some MONUMENTAL Madden clashes that would leave us not talking to each other for the rest the night quite often. Both of us are real competitive and hate losing, so it got ugly quite often.
I can’t say either one of us dominated the other. Often one of us would go on a winning streak for a week or so. During that time, shit would get tense because the winner would talk a gang of shit until it just pissed the other off so bad that a shouting match would ensue. The rest of the game would be played out in silence. After the victor was declared, the loser would storm out of the room and slam his bedroom door shut. This happened more often than not. Toward the end of the year, I would find out I was going to be a daddy when I knocked up one of the waitresses I worked with. Madden and alcohol kept me somewhat grounded during a trying time.
1998 (Madden NFL 99) - A trying year for me personally. I had a baby girl, working two jobs bartending, and a baby mama that was possibly one of the evilest women to ever walk the earth (at least thats what I thought at the time, now I realize she wasn’t the evilest, but maybe in the top 1,000). I moved out with three other guys to save money on rent. I was living in a place nicknamed “The Dungeon” since it was below ground and always dark and the ceilings were only 6’5 tall (I’m 6’1 or so). It was just a dismal place. To top it off, we nicknamed one of the roommates “Sloth” because he didn’t move and he was hairy and smelly like a sloth. Instead of Madden and alcohol being my distractions, it was Madden, Alcohol, and weed (the only time in my life I would have considered myself a weed head). I’d roll out of the rack long enough to listen to Jim Rome, wake and bake, play Madden until it was time to go to work, come home, drink and play Madden until I passed out then do it all over again the next day.
None the less, both roommates played Madden as well, and unlike my good buddy Steve, I dominated these two characters. Sloth and “Mase Malone” (named after Anthony Mason and Karl Malone, NBA players, for his love of young women…sometimes too young a 17 y/o might have snuck in there a couple times, sick fuck…hahaha) were no match for the “Travster” as I routinely laid waste to the two roomies. This was also the first year for the “Franchise Mode” to be implemented onto the Madden Series. This was a main hook for me. Despite only being able to only play 10 years out, it was awesome for someone like me who would sit down and knock out
a season in a week or so. This was probably one of my favorite years, just for that reason.
1999 (Madden NFL 2000) - This year was more of a solo experience for me. I had moved back to Boise and spent the winter at my parents place while trying to get my feet back under me. The only real thing that sticks out about this year was buying the game when it dropped on a Tuesday. I was working as a bartender/manager for a neighborhood pub and grill, so I was working some ridiculous hours. That weekend I had to work the Friday night until late, get up the next day and work the lunch shift on Saturday. I was off by 4pm that day. I went home, got in front of my TV, threw Madden into PS and started playing. I played non stop until I started seeing the sun coming up. I went to bed, slept for a couple hours, got up at 10am and played until 6 or so that night, again, non stop. It has to be my longest Madden session I’ve ever had.
2000 (Madden NFL 2001) - This year I started getting together with a few friends for Madden nights. I was working at a factory making circuit boards. This black dude from Washington DC worked with me as well (what up Wayne!!). We talked and we knew the other played Madden and always talked about getting together for some Madden but never did. One night I went over to a buddy of mines house to play some Madden (he is black as well…what up Dino!!!) and Wayne was sitting there on the couch already playing. Come to find out they already knew each other. That was the start of us getting together quite often and getting the sticks and on playing some Madden. It might be at my house, or Dino’s or Wayne’s. Sometimes we’d invite friends, but often it was just the three of us. That factory would be key to our future Madden endevours.
This years tourney’s were the biggest and best by far. We never had less than 10 people at a tournament and I think our all time high was 22 or so playing. We were finally getting enough people, we would “rent out” a dive bar down the street from Kruger. This bar on Saturday afternoons after college football season was over was dead. They just wanted business. We’d come in there with our 14-18 people playing, most of those people bringing their friends and the such with them as well and this bar would do way more business than it normally would. My best friend Steve, my old roommate, would drive up from Salt Lake and play in these big tourney’s as well, including a 10 hour drive from Salt Lake to Boise (it usually takes 4 1/2) in a driving snow storm. Fucking nuts.
Kruger and Wayne were usually the ones to beat on any given weekend. A few times Wayne would get too drunk or would want to leave to get a booty call, and sometimes Kruger would draw shitty teams and flame out, only to pout the rest of the night. My one tournament win would be this year. I had to work on a Saturday morning, so I stayed sober. I won with the Chargers and LT at about 3:30 in the morning. I had to be at work at 6 am. It was still pretty fucking cool though.
2004 (Madden NFL 2005), 2005 (Madden NFL 2006), 2006 (Madden NFL 2007)
I have one friend here I spent most of the summer of ’05 kicking his ass on the regular. He beat me once, but it was turned on Pro or some sort of wuss level like that. We had one tournemanet in Boise when I went home for Thanksgiving a couple years back. I couldn’t even tell you had I did, because I ended up getting drunk. It was more of a reunion with old friends than a tournament anyway. Last year at Christmas, Wayne, Kruger, Me and another longtime Madden player, Niel (Where the fuck where you Dino?) got together to play a round robin style tournament. I beat everyone except Niel, who lost to everyone else.
I think I’ll put in Madden ’07 just so I don’t crazy tonight……..