The Inside story of how “Madden NFL” became a video game dynasty.. | The Original Source for Great Online Media.. Will Barnes Onlinefile:///Users/jimhejl/Documents/MaddenDynasty.html[4/2/11 7:09:34 AM]
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n the beginning, there was the word. And that word was no.
On a cloudymorning in 1984, three men met in an Amtrak dining car winding through the RockyMountains, en route from Denver to Oakland, Calif. The first was Trip Hawkins, acloset “Strat-O-Matic Football” junkie and founder of video game maker ElectronicArts (which has a relationship with ESPN to integrate content into its games). Thesecond was Joe Ybarra, Hawkins’ lieutenant, a high school chess champ turned pigskinfanatic. The third was John Madden, the former Super Bowl-winning coach, hardware storepitchman, televised NFL evangelist and poet laureate of interior line play.Boom! He’ll remember that number!
See how “Madden NFL” has evolved through the years.Then, as now, Madden had no use for airplanes. He was nearly as leery of computers. Thiswas before Google, PlayStation or the Internet. People didn’t carry credit card-thin smartphones in their pockets, and video games were quarter-eating diversions for nerdy boys.Madden was a football guy. Intelligent as hell, sure. Unafraid of the telestrator. Oncetaught an X’s and O’s class at Berkeley. Yet was totally unmoved by “Pac-Man fever.” Honestly didn’t know what the heck a PC did. Booming and boisterous, an alpha male tothe core, Madden brandished a cigar throughout the meeting — one nearly a foot long withthe diameter of a quarter; a veritable kraken of Cohibas to be gazed upon with despair. Achew toy.Spittle-splattered but unbowed, Hawkins made his pitch, the same one he previously haddelivered in a fast-food parking lot outside Madden’s Bay Area office:
Help me build agame. Lend your expertise. I’ll put your name on the box.
Madden was intrigued.
this could become a coaching tool. Pick a play,run it on a machine, see if it works. No need to scrimmage.
If it’s not 11-on-11, it’s not
. That was a deal breaker. If it was going to beme, and going to be pro football, it had to have 22 guys on the screen. If we couldn’t havethat, we couldn’t have a game.– JOHN MADDENHe sketched formations on paper, lines branching in every direction — little masterworks of unintentional abstract art that Hawkins would later frame.The one-time Oakland Raiders coach talked philosophy:
Where’s my playing field? Belowsea level and it rains a lot? Then give me Gene Upshaw. Put the defense on skis and pushthem all day long.
Hawkins listened. Ybarra took notes. The duo promised they would create as sophisticateda simulation as home computers would allow. Real football, with seven players to a side …Right there, Madden balked — even though he was technically under contract with EA toendorse a football game. “If it’s not 11-on-11,” he said, “it’s not
The Inside story of how “Madden NFL” became a video game dynasty..
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