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Madden Day

by Travis on August 11, 2009

Trav’s Note: Just found out that Madden doesn’t come out until Friday. Eh, jumping the gun a bit, oh well….

Still in the holding pattern for getting my freaking internet turned on. You’d think that the damn cable company could figure out if they provide service in my area or not. I wouldn’t expect it to be rock science, but for some reason it is.

Today though is a special day in the year. What is it? Yup, you guessed it, it’s Madden Day. If you follow this blog at all, you know that I’m a Madden junkie. I’ve spent countless hours playing the damn game. I’ve been known to wake up on a Saturday morning, throw some tunes on, throw a 12 pack (or two) in the fridge and just start playing Madden until the sun goes down, I pass out or someone comes over an interrupts my plan, which ever comes first. This year, I upped the stakes a bit and finally joined the revolution and forked down the cash for an X-Box. Needless to say I’m going to get my ass kicked around a few times while I learn the controllers on that bad boy. I’ve played an X-Box a few times in the past and always seem to fuck up the buttons somehow. But once I get the buttons figured out and the feel for the X-Box in general, watch out, cause it’s on.

In honor of the greatest video game ever invented (and the highest selling of all-time), I’m rerunning the post I did on Madden Day in 2007. It’s cheap, but you get the idea…..

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.”

For the players, like those couch potatoes who love the series, the key to the game is its realism.

“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.

1997 (Madden NFL 98) – Shit really started to pop off with this chapter in the Madden series. I remember this version as the reason I fell in love with Madden and became a life long fan of the game. Steve and I had a playstation by the release of the game and we played at least two games a night against each other. I remember this version had an ambulance that would come out onto the field if a player got seriously fucked up. We’d aim for that shit, taking out the others key players. He would always play with the Broncos, so me and Gregg Lloyd and the Steelers made a habit out of late hitting John “Mr. Ed” Elway anytime we had the chance.

I can’t say either 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 eviles
t, 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.

2001 (Madden NFL 2002) – I was playing on a factory softball team throughout the whole summer so I started meeting more people. I befriended a guy right around my age, Kruger and he was a Madden baller as well. By the time Madden came out that year, him and I would play a game before a softball game (the fields were right by my house) while drinking a six pack apiece. Soon when football season started and we started hanging out on Sunday’s together since we were both Steelers fans, we’d get his friends and my friends together and have a Madden tournament. At first it was only about five or six of us. We’d play each other and just have some beers. By the end of the year, we’d met others around us that were Madden players and these get togethers started to get bigger. Before you know it, we’d have four to five TV’s set up around a house (usually Kruger’s) with Playstation’s (that only lasted one tournament as by the time we played a PS2, no one could go back to the regular playstation, including myself) or PS2′s at each one.

We’d pay $5-$10 into a pot, depending on how many people we had playing. We’d then draw team names for two teams apiece and draw for bracket positions. Usually it was 3 min quarters on All-Madden mode. We’d get it all set up and start at around 7pm or so and sometimes it’d last until 3 or 4 in th morning. Sure, a lot of the times it would turn into a big ass party and drinking would take center place over the tournament, but we always finished the tournaments. I remember one tournament, I was on a hot streak. I used to play real good with running QB’s and I drew the Falcons and Dog Killer Vick and the Eagles and McNabb. I do really good and have both teams in the final four. Not bad at all. Only thing, I had been drinking the whole night. My first semi-finals game with the Falcons I get rolled. I do win my second semi game with the Eagles, by some weird way, although McNabb was the shit on this version. In the finals, I basically pass out while playing, with beer still in my hand. I lost by disqualification.

2002 (Madden NFL 2003) - If I have a beef with Madden, it would be that one year the game will go through all these changes and make major improvements. The next year, you basically get a repackaged version of the year before just with updated rosters. It kind of pisses you off, but what do you do? This year was probably my favorite of all time though. Our Madden tourney’s were things of legends. Once a month, we’d get the crew together and draw our teams and play Madden and get drunk. It was all love, not once can I remember any fights over any of it. I was probably the most aggressive one of the bunch. I would do a ton of shit talking when winning, but I can’t take it when I’m losing. It’d ruffle some feathers, and probably should. I was also famous for throwing my hat (I always have a hat on) across a room after getting burned for a big play, or even spiking a controller into the floor.

This years tourney’s were the biggest and best by f
ar. 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.

2003 (Madden NFL 2004) - I knew this would be my last year in Boise as I was planning to move to Denver in January of ’04. We didn’t have near the turnout as we had in the past for our tournaments as the factory we all worked at had moved its operations down to Mexico and laying off the 1500 people that worked there. We’d still have around 10-12 people for tournaments. We even reserved a pizza joint for a Saturday afternoon tournement. We also had some sort of deal on Michelob Ultra (I’m not sure how we swung that) so there was a lot of drunken people playing Madden. Families would come in and turn around and leave as I would scream “FUUUUUCK!!!!” and throw my hat across the restaurant.

2004 (Madden NFL 2005), 2005 (Madden NFL 2006), 2006 (Madden NFL 2007)

The last three years I have been residing in Denver, so it’s been a little more difficult getting with people who share the same love for Madden as I do. I wasn’t real happy with Madden 2006 in fact I thought it was a giant piece of shit. I didn’t play it a whole lot. On the other hand, Madden 2007 was pretty enjoyable for me. I played probably the deepest Franchise I’ve ever played on it, until I accidentally turned it off while it was saving a game. Bad mistake. The past few years, I’ll buy NCAA and play it along with Madden and import my draft classes into Madden as I go along. It makes for a fun game.

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.

2007 (Madden 08) and 2008 (Madden 09) – The last two years of Madden have been decent ones as far as game play, but being stuck on the PS2, it’s a platform that hasn’t been paid much attention as far as aspects of the game go. I moved from Denver to my current location in November of ’07. Getting time to play was pretty difficult between the blog, looking for the job and other things going on. It was pretty much a strictly weekend event. We did get one Madden tournament in that December. It was played on the PS2 and had about eight of us balling in a two team apiece double elimination. I had the Cowboys (who I hate with a passion) and the Titans. Both pretty good teams, but the Titans had their question marks, since it was with Vince Young and before last years dominance. I had the Cowboys first and kicked some ass that first quarter, strictly by throwing it in the direction of T.O. and he would catch anything remotely close. In the second quarter, he got hurt and knocked out the game and what turned out to be the potential favorite got beat. But I wasn’t done. I worked the Titans all the way to the finals only to meet my buddy Wayne’s National Guard buddy. They had both been to Iraq together and their past time was, you guessed it, playing Madden. When I met this kid in the finals, he had both of his teams left. I beat his first team. His last team left was the Raiders, which doesn’t sound like much, but this was his favorite team and the team he balled with on a regular basis. Me on the other hand was playing with the Titans for the first time really. Yours truly won a thriller (I don’t remember the specifics, I was pretty drunk by this time) to take down the tourney. It’s the last real tournament we’ve done.

Last year’s Madden was kind of lukewarm. By the time the game came out, I had been corrupted by playing both the PS3 and the X-Box versions. My PS2 seemed kinda lame. I bought the game, but didn’t really get into it until around the time the Steelers were preparing for the Super Bowl. I did play it quite a bit up until the start of the summer, mainly on Friday and Saturday nights, but it was fun none the less.

I’m looking forward to getting on the X-Box this year and playing some fools online. If you are online and want to play, hit me up via email (I don’t have a online tag made yet) and we can play some Madden…..

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