‘Madden’ madness: 18 years of gaming

shane.nyman and shane.nyman

There may be only one place that Jon Kitna, quarterback of the perennially awful Detroit Lions, can be seen hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, and it isn’t in the real world. It’s in the world of “Madden NFL,” the best-selling sports video game franchise of all-time.

Not only can a gamer achieve the impossible, like winning a title with the Lions, the player can also take control of their favorite NFL players and annihilate a best friend’s team and brag about it forever.

Hopefully, after the game, the loser will simply sulk in defeat instead of breaking the controller.

“I’ve broken too many (controllers) to count,” said Shane Austin, a sophomore photography major and seven-year “Madden” veteran. “My Playstation 2 controllers? Yes, I’ve broken probably four or five of them. I have anger problems when it comes to ‘Madden.’ I don’t like to lose.”

Austin, whose “Madden” tactics include utilizing running quarterbacks Vince Young and Donovan McNabb, said he is probably the best player in Van Antwerp Hall. Because of this, he said, nobody wants to play him anymore.

The “Madden NFL” franchise, which bears the name of former Super Bowl winning coach and current NFL commentator John Madden, has been an 18-year phenomenon. Since its inception in 1989 as “John Madden Football” for Apple Computers, “Madden” has appeared on nearly every video game system imaginable, from PC and Super Nintendo to modern-day Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. The franchise has sold over 60 million copies, according to the game’s developer Electronic Arts, and generated over $2 billion in retail sales.

Each year, since 1989, a new version has been released and devoured by the gaming masses. The 2008 edition of “Madden NFL” has sold over a million copies in the United States since its August 14 release, according to www.vgchartz.com. The release date is known to many of the fans as the Madden-oliday. Much like other holidays, it comes once a year and brings joy and happiness to those who celebrate it.

Known for its unmatched realism, the Madden games have consistently added new features each year. One of these is the create-a-player mode, where anybody can suddenly become an NFL superstar.

Jimmy Conradson, a junior business management major who typically utilizes the power-run game, took a different approach when he created himself as a receiver. His NFL career ended up spanning several successful seasons.

“I made myself a receiver. I was 6’6″ with lightning speed,” he said. “I burned all the defensive backs.”

Sophomore Greg Raspberry, a wide receiver on the Wildcat football team, said he doesn’t go a day without getting in at least two games of Madden. With each game running roughly 45 minutes, that’s an hour and a half dedicated to gaming each day.

Not only does Raspberry get in games every day, he’s been a Madden fanatic since he was a child.

“I have bought every Madden since ’92,” he said. “Every one.”

With 16 years of solid Madden-playing to his name, Raspberry might have nearly as much practice catching digital passes with NFL receivers as he does catching footballs in real life.

Last year, Raspberry had his biggest moment of gaming glory when he won a 25-player tournament with his friends. He said although he’s sure there are better players out there, he is yet to meet them.

“If you can find me a challenge, send ’em my way,” he said.

After 18 years, the Madden franchise has managed to outlast the competition and sells millions of copies each year. And with the ’08 edition, much like every other year, fans like Raspberry begin instantly counting down the days until the next Madden-oliday.