Madden developers reveal how they made Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin's one-of-a-kind likeness

Shaquem Griffin.
(Image credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin is just like any other NFL rookie: extremely excited to play as himself in the latest Madden game. But making Griffin come to virtual life was a unique challenge for the iconic football video game's developers, SB Nation reported Monday.

SB Nation spoke with EA Games about the hurdles that came with incorporating Griffin as a playable character in Madden NFL 19. Griffin lost his left hand when he was 4 due to a rare congenital defect, but after a strong college career at the University of Central Florida — followed by a dazzling display at the NFL Combine — it became clear that he might be selected in this spring's NFL draft. For EA, that meant planning for his Madden debut.

EA took scans of Griffin, like it does with other soon-to-be rookies, and painstakingly created a model of his arm that was true-to-life. But their job wasn't done. They also had to completely readjust how the game casts shadows to make Griffin's appearance accurate; as it was, the game wouldn't realize that his hand was different from any other player's, and the shadow it cast would've been of a hand with fingers. Modeler Greg Watson explained to SB Nation that because the game incorporates "a separate mesh that controls the shadow geometry," developers had to not only make a fully custom hand for Griffin, but also a "different unique shadow geometry for that left hand."

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Although the game isn't 100 percent realistic — the developers note they didn't make entirely new animations for Griffin, so he will sometimes behave like he has two hands — what really mattered was to "always remain respectful of how he looks and how the arm is," producer Ben Haumiller explained. Read more about the development process, and check out video of Griffin's digital arm behind constructed, at SB Nation.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.