The New York Times reports that the lifelike simulation of American football in the next iteration of Electronic Arts' Madden NFL franchise won't stop at realistic player animations and team performance models. Now any virtual athletes who suffer one of the game's concussion-causing tackles will be subject to the same health and safety protocols enforced by the NFL.
According to the article, any player who sustains a serious head injury in Madden NFL 12 will be automatically removed from play with no possibility of returning to the field for the rest of the game. Commentators, meanwhile, will explain that the player has suffered a concussion and that the serious nature of such injuries demands that he be sidelined.
While this new feature is at least partially intended to enhance the game's famed realism, it is also a clear attempt to educate gamers about head injuries.
With research piling up concerning the increased likelihood of professional football players suffering long-term effects from years of repeated concussions and stories in the media about former NFL players such as Brent Boyd and Ralph Wenzel experiencing health problems ranging from early-onset dementia to post-concussion syndrome, the march is on to disseminate information about the potentially grave nature of head injuries.
In an interview with Phil Frazier, the game's executive producer, the Times learned that the game's new concussion feature was indeed included to help edify kids who play the game. "I wouldn't say this is a full public-service announcement," said Mr. Frazier, "but it's a means to educate."
Indeed, considering the 22-year-old franchise's enormous reach-it's on track to reach lifetime sales of 100 million units before the end of 2012-Madden NFL's capacity to convey messages should not be underestimated.
Who says playing games can't teach kids anything?