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July 28, 2010

Obama in Madden 11? A different take

Wow, lots of controversial comments and vitriol in response to Game Informer's post about President Obama making a cameo in Madden 11.

For those of you who don't know, EA Sports has revamped its Super Bowl celebration when your team wins that Super Bowl trophy.  In addition to team-specific commentary and the appearance of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the team takes a trip to Washington D.C. and meets President Obama, giving him a team jersey and everything (you can see videos of this on IGN's site).

(This is a horrible rendition of Obama, by the way)

Of course, this news sparked outcries of "boycott Madden!" and "You're just a bunch of rednecks!!!" in the comments section.

I'm a conservative who has no love for Obama whatsoever, but that's the most political I'm going to get in this post.  I think calls of boycotting the game are ridiculous.

I also hope that this is just an image and that Obama didn't actually record anything for them.  I have no problem with Presidents appearing in our media (I loved Clinton showing up in an X-Men comic, for example), but I don't want any sitting President actually *participating* in something like this.

But I also think this is an incredibly stupid move on EA's part, for a couple of reasons, none of which are really political.

First, because there are a lot of people who fly off the handle really easily, you could be affecting your sales.  Probably not much, but some.  Who needs it?

Secondly, and far more importantly, it's opening up a can of worms no matter how EA does it, all for the sake or "realism."

Yes, teams that win the Super Bowl go to the White House and are congratulated by the President.  But the Franchise mode in Madden spans a huge number of years (I want to say 30, but I'm not sure).  So what happens in 2 years?  Or 6?  If you win the Super Bowl every year for the next 30 years, do you have the same cutscene presenting Obama your team jersey?  Really?  Thirty years?  Talk about an Imperial Presidency!

Ok, so maybe they thought of that.  When do you replace him?  After 2012? After 2016?  Each choice makes a sort of political statement.

I have no problem with them adding this to the Super Bowl festivities.  Complaints have been going on for years that winning the Super Bowl in Madden didn't really seem to mean much, because there really wasn't much celebration.  There were some fireworks, a couple of team members hoisted the trophy, maybe the coach was lifted on the shoulders of a few team members.  That was it.  Then BOOM! Into Off-season mode you go.  So I love the fact that EA has revamped this.

But why couldn't they use a fictional president?  That would have saved a lot of worms from getting out.

Ok, enough about Obama.  How about the rest of the celebration?

First, the same complaints about Obama above apply to having Roger Goodell in the celebration.  Is he going to be NFL Commissioner in 2035?  However, I can see that a little better, as there's no real way to say "THIS IS THE NFL COMMISSIONER" like there is with the President.  For the President, you just show a picture of the White House right before you show the jersey ceremony.

Secondly, IGN celebrates the fact that the commentary is team-specific, talking about the team's situation, even saying "I especially enjoyed his reference to how my favorite team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, were possibly going to move cities in the pre-season, and how the community wouldn't let their championship team get away now that they've won the championship."  I saw elsewhere that the Saints winning causes some commentary about hurricane Katrina.

I hope that the commentary is diverse enough that this doesn't happen all the time.  First, what happens if you win multiple times?  Does it say the same thing?  And secondly, if you win as the Saints in 2030, is Katrina really relevant anymore?

That could be enough to throw me out of the game right there, just when I was getting immersed in it.  I want commentary that's based on what's happened in the game too.  If I'm playing as the Steelers in 2015, and I've been beaten by my arch-rivals the Bengals in the playoffs the last two years in a row, I want that mentioned if I finally beat them in the 2015 playoffs!

That would be awesome.

(image courtesy of Game Informer)


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