April 03, 2011
The video game that brought you the hit stick, vibrating controllers on big tackles and "boom, where'd that truck come from?" is raising awareness of the severity of concussions.
In a bid to create a realistic depiction of concussions, the next edition of the popular Madden football series will sideline concussed players for the entire game without exception. Announcers will later comment on the severity of the injury and explain why the player can't return.
It's part of a new push by EA Sports to treat the video game as a teaching tool to children. Previously, concussed players could return to the game in the same quarter.
"Concussions are such a big thing, it has to be a big thing in the video game," John Madden told the New York Times. "It starts with young kids — they start in video games. I think the osmosis is if you get a concussion, that's a serious thing and you shouldn't play."
You can't argue with common sense. It seems silly that a video game would have to educate children about concussions, but as we've yet to see the NFL do anything about it, I appreciate the effort by Madden and EA. There's something to be said for early education in matters like this. Changing the perception of concussions has to start some way.
To call EA's new push realistic is a bit of a stretch, though. Madden will ban helmet-to-helmet hits, spearing or shots to the head of defenseless players. It's an effort to make the game a "teaching tool."
If EA truly wanted to push the boundaries of realism, they'd feature players lying to doctors about their symptoms and Hines Ward(notes) whispering behind concussed player's backs about how they're wimps for not coming back in the game.
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