Saturday, December 30, 2006

Video games and the passion of sports

I must confess with some degree of hesitancy that as a 30 year old adult I enjoy a rather juvenile passion-I like video games. More specifically, I enjoy sports video games, and especially (though not exclusively) those produced in the EA Sports line, such as Madden's NFL series, NCAA Football series, MLB, and NCAA Basketball.

One of the reasons I enjoy these sorts of games (and have since PlayStation first became popular-I was still in college back in those days) is largely due to the fact that I was never able to play these sports growing up, and I had an insatiable love of sports, as many boys do. My wife can verify that she does not like to sit in the same room with me while I watch a football game. I usually coach the television, hollering at it what play to call, who to throw to, when to hand off to the fullback instead of the tailback, and what defense to run on the next series. For some reason, my wife sees fit to remind me that utterly no one can actually hear me make these overtures, and so they are a senseless exercise in futility. While she is quite correct, my mind and my emotions often separate when viewing a sporting activity.

Baseball is even worse, because in high school I was an actual first base coach for the Junior Varsity, or reserve team. When a player does something stupid on the basepaths during a game, I tend to react. I once fumed excessively during the 1998 Division Series when Mickey Morandini made a baserunning miscalculation that ultimately cost my beloved Cubs the game and eliminated them from the playoffs that year. One of my old baseball-watching buddies later told me that I mumbled under my breath "that's the dumbest thing I have ever seen..." and broke down the bad logistics of the play in question in whispers for over three hours.

I'd rather get mad about sports than over-react to something far more important, and sports often provide a needed escape from the more harsh realities of life. Many of the modern video games are built on a concept of realism that is so advanced that the coaching is left entirely to the gamer, so if there is a mistake in a playcall or a coaching error, the only person the player has to blame is themself.

Of course, I don't have a whole lot of time to pour into sports video games these days, but the fact that I enjoy them for the sake of their realism (at my age) is a testimony to just how good some of them really are.



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