October 27, 2008
There was a time when the biggest obsession for professional athletes was how they were portrayed on their collectable cards. That has since been replaced by Athlete Gripe 2.0: How their particular skill set is portrayed in a sports video game.
For example, St. Louis Blues rookie forward T.J. Oshie isn't thrilled with his numbers in EA Sports' NHL 09. According to a poster on the EA Sports boards, the roster update earlier this month added Oshie to the game with an overall rating of 74.
"When I play NHL '09, I play as the Blues and my guy is just terrible," Oshie said, laughing. "I feel embarrassed when he's out there. He's slow, every time he gets touched he falls down."
For those of you like me who aren't video-game junkies, the games today actually rate the players' skill level in real life and then program those individual players to have a certain skill level in the game.
What can Oshie do about it? Can he play the game as a different team? Or if he plays as the Blues, perhaps he can call EA Sports and get his skill level improved?
"If I play a different team, I'm betraying (the Blues)," Oshie said. "I'm hoping that I just pick up my game, get some hits and they update the game where I'm a little more solid on the puck."
That last bit is interesting: How many NHL players, who are also hardcore gamers, use their own teams in the game?
When I interviewed Rick Nash out at 2K Sports headquarters earlier this year, he talked about what attributes he'd like to see improved in his virtual self, but was unclear about whether or not he actually used the Columbus Blue Jackets in NHL 2K9.*
One of the developers asked if there was one tendency Nash wanted changed in his own personal player ratings for the game.
"What's my speed at right now?" asked Nash.
"12," was the answer, to laughter around the room.
"Maybe puck possession then," said Nash.
I play NHL'08. I think it's better than '09, but I'm never Washington. I'm too superstitious.
I'm a casual gamer (does that make me softcore?), but when I do play I never use my team, the New Jersey Devils; both because it's more fun to play in someone else's sandbox, and because the computer stubbornly refuses to allow me to stack up five guys on the defensive blue line in order to truly play "Devils hockey."
Do you use your favorite team on your hockey video game of choice, or do they provide enough headaches for you in the real world that you refuse to use them in the virtual world?
(Detroit Red Wings fans need not answer this. We get it. Your team is great and Marian Hossa skates through video game defenders like Mario running through turtles after grabbing a star. Mario the Plumber, not the other Super Mario.)
Or, perhaps, are you just superstitious about it like Green?
* I'll actually have a long overdue "NHL 2K9 for the Wii" review publishing later this week.
** Mike Green's drink of choice is a "double vodka and water." He's drinking that, Crosby's drinking Crown Royale ... do any of these kids knock back a tasty brew or 10 any more? Man, it's tough being a "Slap Shot" guy in a Details magazine world.