John Madden, pioneer of sports simulation

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Last Tuesday we had to mourn the death of John Madden at age 85. Madden was not only a precocious coach – he started on the benches at 26 and at 32 he was already head coach in the NFL – and successful, since he never registered a season with more losses than victories in his career, and won the first championship. for the Oakland Raiders, with a great 13-1 overall record in 1976. An icon of football, he was also – and hopefully will continue to be – the image of the longest-running sports simulation franchise today, and surely responsible for that sports games would become just that: something closer to a simulator, always keeping in mind the limitations of the time, since we are talking about nothing less than 1988.

Retired from the benches at the young age of 42, Madden also carved out a long career as a sportscaster, where he managed to match, or even exceed, the charisma he built as a coach. Such was the case, that the founder of Electronic Arts, Trip Hawkins, wanted to trust him to be the face of the first Madden installment – known as John Madden Football-, launched as we said in 1988, in MS-DOS.

But as we can read in Play History: The 50 video games that changed the world -Marc Rollán-, the development of that title was anything but pleasant. As reported, Madden’s demands went beyond simply naming the game, as he actually wanted to be part of its development in the role of advisor. Of all the fans of this sport, one can imagine the enormous complexity of transferring the multiple strategies of football to a game in the 80s, with which, how could it be otherwise, it was riddled with bugs.

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It was in 1990 when the leap that was made with John Madden Football – yes, he repeated the title – in Mega Drive It was so great that it is really from then on when you consider that this franchise began to gain the name it has today. We are talking about a saga that repeats year in and year out as the best-selling game in August in the United States, in an absolute monopoly in the eighth month of the year.

Many stories around Madden

In addition, it is worth remembering the famous “Madden curse”, of which we already spoke on one occasion, and which has been in the limelight for decades thanks to – or because of the fault of very curious cases. Tremendously popular is the case of Garrison Hearst, the first player to make the cover of the game – before it was always Madden himself – who after a spectacular season in 1998 with the 49ers suffered a horrific injury. Other players who suffered injuries after appearing on the game’s cover were Shaun Alexander, Daunte Culpepper or Adrian Peterson, but it must also be made clear that on many occasions, more than bad luck, it must be said that in some cases there was no one at steering wheel, such as those of Michael Vick -who even went through jail- or the most recent of Antonio Brown.


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