An NFL-approved video game isn't shying away from the hot-button issue of concussions. In "Madden NFL 12," the newest iteration of Electronic Arts' wildly popular series, virtual players subjected to violent onfield hits can suffer concussions, just as in real life. And, in an echo of recently adopted NFL policy, players who sustain those injuries are benched for the rest of the game; a voice-over explains why returning to the field would be ill-advised. An Electronic Arts producer calls the game's new feature a "teaching tool" to instruct children and adults about football injuries. But some gamers are less interested in realism than the traditional "Madden" experience. Are video games really the proper forum for a health lesson?
Kids need this: "Concussions are such a big [issue], it has to be a big thing in the video game," says football legend and game namesake John Madden, as quoted by The New York Times. Young children often learn about football through video games, and the new policy will send the message that "if you get a concussion, that's a serious thing and you shouldn't play." No longer are such injuries a test of a player's courage — the days are gone "when someone would get a concussion and you’d say he just got dinged, take some smelling salts and get back in the game."
"New version of 'Madden 12' called a 'teaching tool' on concussion"
EA is doing what the NFL itself should: "It seems silly that a video game would have to educate children about concussions," says Chris Chase at Yahoo! Sports, "but as we've yet to see the NFL do anything about it, I appreciate the effort by Madden and EA." It won't be easy to truly alter children's perception of concussions, but this is a good start. "You can't argue with common sense."
"New Madden video game will emphasize concussion safety"
But the game might be less fun: "Although the message behind the new concussion rule is an important one, there are still those who feel that imposing such strict rules on a [video] game is going overboard," says Evalynn J. Saeyang at Gather. "Seriously, take a step back and imagine a little kid who just wants to play a game" — won't it be a buzzkill when they're not allowed to compete as their favorite player because he has a concussion?
"Madden NFL concussion rule changed; art imitates life"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Surviving a plane crash
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The man who would be caliph
- Ted Cruz and the most cynical, despicable political stunt of the year
- Everything you need to master Chinese cooking
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- When men who abstain from pre-marital sex get married
- The greatest sniper duel in history is a myth
Subscribe to the Week