Video by Ryosuke Tanzawa
This weekend I was given the amazing opportunity to attend one of the biggest competitive gaming events in the world, hosted by none other than Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The company known as Virgin Gaming (See “Play at Your Own Risk: Virgin Gaming”) even boasted Jadakiss and Just Blaze on the bill, two devoted gamers. Backstage, Jada and JB named their favs: Jadakiss digs NBA 2K and NFL Madden; Just Blaze is all about Street Fighter IV.
Virgin Gaming knows how to throw a party. Amidst the scantily clad referees, cheerleaders, and NOS girls, participants were enticed by the big money, but more importantly, the respect that goes along with publicly shutting down the world’s best players. The journey lasted ’til about 3:30am and along the way victories were claimed, defeat was painfully endured, and ridiculous sums of cash were dolled out to those with the deftest thumbs.
NHL ’12 FROM THE SIDELINES
When I first entered the arena my eyes were immediately drawn to the massive screen displayed above the stage (that’s a lie… it was actually the low cut shirts of the refs), where I was seeing a game of NHL ’12 in progress. After a few seconds I suddenly realized that I was actually watching real hockey, they were projecting the 2012 NHL Playoffs. Wow, that felt stupid. Then again, maybe games are just getting way too realistic.
NFL MADDEN ’12 FROM THE SIDELINES
In fact, in the 2012 installment of NFL Madden, featured at this competition, the development studio went forward with a new feature that will sideline your players if you receive a concussion. Basically, take a big hit to the head and you sit one out, seems pretty legit. The change was primarily to emphasize the gravity of head injuries to the impressionable little leaguers going harder than a game of flag football. However, it’s also been a huge step in the direction of bringing realism to what is ultimately simulation.
Sports games are ushering in a whole new level of realism. A giant step towards a more relatable experience. Speaking with some of the pro players at the EA Challenge Series, I realized that these guys know football, soccer, and hockey. You pretty much have to at their level. When the games you’re playing are so ridiculously realistic down to the point that a poorly executed tackle can compromise a key player, you better understand the ins and outs.
At the end of the day, the battles taking place are just pixels against pixels. But there’s no denying a very real experience behind the façade of simulated entertainment. The way the game is played is real, the competition is real, the money is definitely real, and while the NHL Playoffs were taking place, a group of real serious professionals gathered for their own shot at real victory.