I don’t know about you guys, but I think sports games have gone mostly untouched from a retrospective standpoint. Every once in a while, we get a really cool article by a large outlet, such as this GQ article about NBA Street 2 back in 2018, but it’s not enough to satiate me. I think of all the amazing sports documentaries, and all the amazing work done by outlets like NFL Films over the years, and I want that for sports games.
I don’t expect production quality that rivals NFL Films or anything, but the history here is starting to amass. We have generations of consoles to parse through now, and it’s time to start collecting this history in worthwhile videos and retrospectives.
When @EAMaddenNFL came out in 1988, it changed video games forever.
Our first episode of #PlayingTheField talks about the history of @EASPORTS and Madden’s impact on the industry. pic.twitter.com/fF5IyAuaJ8
— Football Matters (@FootballMatters) November 7, 2019
Football Matters posted part three of their three-part series about two weeks ago, but it came over my timeline during Thanksgiving. I finally had a chance to watch it on Sunday, and while overall it has the feel of an advertisement more than I would like (especially parts two and three), part one is the one I share above because it’s more like the stuff I crave. It’s a look at how the Madden series got started, and it talks to some of the people involved in that process. For those who are up on their Madden history, it’s maybe not full of a ton of new info, but it’s well shot and well put together, and even production values like these are hard to find on a consistent basis in the sports game genre.
It’s not just the history of how these games were created that matters either. For example, NoClip does great work doing retrospectives in between focusing on other new games coming out. I can still recall watching things like GameTrailers’ look at Zelda’s timeline years ago — it’s great to see a bunch of those guys now working independently under the Easy Allies umbrella by the way — and it’s because so much of this stuff is now part of a long stretch of our lives. I’ve been playing Zelda games for 20 years at this point, and the same goes for Madden.
That sort of history is rich, looking at the many versions of the game is an interesting topic, and documentaries are something sports fans love anyway. It just feels like a subject that has gone mysteriously overlooked. I would love to watch or read about the impact of music in sports games over the years. I would love to watch someone talk about the history of the Madden Vision Cone, and maybe even get to talk with some developers involved in that gameplay feature. It could be so many things, and it just feels like it’s past time more high-quality video pieces were out in the wild encapsulating the history of sports games.