Sunday, September 30, 2012


How "realistic" should our sports games be? Should a computer simulation replicate referee error? Ever since Madden introduced "challenge play" gamers have been conflicted…isn't the game supposed to be called correctly? You could make the argument that the red flag in the NFL is an integral part of the game and is an important component of coaching strategy - but employing it successfully means that the ref originally called the INCORRECT call in the game…think about that, the referee of a video game intentionally got the call incorrect. If we really wanted to be realistic we would have some challenges that were wrongly overturned and some challenges that are "inconclusive" so the ref would say the call on the field "stands" instead of "confirmed" - how realistic do we want to get? Is this an option that can be turned off/on according to the user? Should this be a feature that is turned off in ranked games online? Some Madden players will say if real players and coaches get robbed by bad calls, shouldn't Madden tournaments? The difference between simulation and the real NFL I would argue is that a referee in a real NFL game is real and it is genuine human error if he gets a call wrong, in Madden its a programmer or coding that is intentionally calling a play wrong, because the default coding should allow for a flawlessly called game. A player who loses a challenge or gets a bad call in a Madden game is literally getting robbed by the game.

Obviously the challenge play in Madden has been a "feature" for a couple of years now, what is really interesting is this brand of simulation altering other sports series, specifically ProEvo and FIFA. It is impossible to bring up futbol without talking about diving - it is a main part of the game now. People have been clamoring for it to be adopted into their favorite video game series, while others have relished that this unsavory part of the beautiful game is absent in their console version of the sport. The dive button and conning a referee is literally a hot button topic - should we see it in FIFA and/or PES? Should we see it in career/franchise/Master League modes but disabled in online multiplayer? Should certain players have a dive rating? Suarez has a rep and will be more inclined to draw a yellow instead of a pen. If you are playing in La Liga it might be given more than in the Prem.

The crux of the argument is inherently how exactly do we want our games to be played? Should we select refs like how we select lineups/rosters; should Madden rate real NFL referees like how they do players? Maybe having the option of selecting a "robot" ref that calls everything correctly and exact - a ref so perfect that if a corner has 51% of the ball and the receiver has 49% he will NOT call simultaneous possession on a completed pass, but any other ref would probably see it as 50/50 (unless he called 5 straight perfect games without being overturned by a coach in real life and his live season rating is 100 from your paid EA Sports referee live season data pack). It is kind of funny when you play ProEvo and you get an offsides because you are by the slightest of margins off - in any real game it would not be given, but its always refreshing that in a game its called perfectly and you know the computer is right…but now in an attempt to simulate realism a linesman might not see the negligible offsides and not raise the flag - a more "realistic" call but the WRONG one…its a very meta discussion, but this is where we have gotten.

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