|Want more fun? It's in the game!|
By Patrick Hruby
Special to Page 2
After a recent string of high-profile helmet-hit infractions, the NFL reportedly is talking with video game makers to ensure that football games endorsed by the league and the players association don't feature excessive violence.
One game, "NFL Blitz 2003," even permits gamers to end every play with a virtual bodyslam -- or kick to the digital groin -- of their already-tackled opponent.
"What is happening on the field and what is happening in the video games is different right now," Mark Holtzman, the NFL's senior vice president of consumer products, told ESPN.com. "We're taking a very close look at this, since we have to walk the fine line. We know what sells, but we also want to do our best to maintain the integrity of the game."
With the integrity of the game in mind, Page 2 presents some other common video football game features the NFL would be wise to look into:
The fix: Disable the button for fat linemen; take Moss out of the gamer's control entirely.
Integrity problem: Even with recent advances in bioengineering, creating a pitch-perfect football Frankenstein remains beyond the reach of science. Unless, of course, you're Marv Marinovich.
The fix: Replace with "Enhance-a-Player" mode, in which gamers can boost their digital player's stats by feeding them virtual steroids, stimulants and, er, "nutritional supplements."
Integrity problem: Mini-Camp Mode is fun. Unlike actual training camp.
Integrity problem: Unless they have DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket, real-world viewers aren't given too many choices when it comes to watching football. You'll sit through Bengals-Cardinals, and you'll like it!
The fix: Force gamers to watch digital duds like Vikings-Panthers. Just for fun, run virtual ticker featuring scores from games like 49ers-Packers at the bottom of the screen.
Integrity problem: Gamers are not allowed to tamper with coaches from other teams. Nor are they permitted to circumvent the salary cap, fire their club's longtime secretary, demand a new, publicly-funded stadium or undergo conspicuous plastic surgery.
The fix: Either remove this mode completely, or release a stand-alone game that includes the above options for Dan Snyder and his pals.
The fix: Expand injury options so that gamers can choose to send injured players back on the field after a shot of digital cortisone, a la "Any Given Sunday."
Integrity problem: Gamers can place their virtual franchise in any city they want, including Los Angeles.
The fix: Replace Create-a-Team with "Move-a-Team," in which the gamer is allowed to threaten a move to another city in order to obtain a better virtual stadium lease.
"Powered by ESPN"
Integrity problem: Real NFL players feel major collisions in more than just their fingers and wrists.
The fix: Introduce a control pad that administers a jarring electric shock upon on-screen player contact, the better to simulate helmet-to-helmet collisions.
Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.