How John Madden Became the ‘Larger-Than-Life’ Face of a Gaming Empire

"[John] Madden, who died Tuesday, helped bring to life a series of football video games that have generated $7 billion in revenue since 1988," reports the New York Times. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report, written by Kellen Browning and Kevin Draper: Trip Hawkins first met John Madden in the dining car of an Amtrak train traveling from Denver to Oakland, Calif., in 1984, after Madden had agreed to lend his name and football prowess to a football simulation video game. Madden, the legendary coach and broadcaster, quickly made it clear who would be calling the shots. Because of the limits of computer processing power, Hawkins, who had founded the gaming company Electronic Arts two years earlier, floated the idea of a video game with seven-on-seven football, rather than the 11-on-11 version used in the N.F.L. Madden just stared at him, and said "that isn't really football," Hawkins recalled. He had to agree. "If it was going to be me and going to be pro football, it had to have 22 guys on the screen," Madden once told ESPN. "If we couldn't have that, we couldn't have a game." The extra years spent developing a more realistic game, which was called John Madden Football and debuted in 1988 for the Apple II computer, paid off. Decades later, the Madden NFL series of video games continues to sell millions of copies annually, has helped turn E.A. into one of the world's most prominent gaming companies and has left a lasting mark on football fandom and the N.F.L. Although he coached the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl victory and was lauded for his work as a television analyst, Madden, who died Tuesday at age 85, is better known to legions of younger sports fans as the namesake of the iconic video game franchise that has generated more than $7 billion in revenue. "Every dorm room right now, every basement, every couch, there's people sitting down playing Madden," said Scott Cole, a longtime sports broadcaster who has called games for several years for the Madden Championship Series, the most competitive Madden NFL tournaments. Slashdot reader schwit1 first shared the news of Madden's passing.

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