Next week on August 9th, my biggest addiction gets renewed for the new football season. That's right, Madden 2006 makes it's debut.
Like most other people my age, I've been playing video games since the days I used a butter knife to screw an RF adapter on the back of my 13" black & white TV set so that I could play Pong. I went through all the major cycles...Atari, Intellivision, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and then the Sony Playstation. Sure there was some dabbling on other systems, but I didn't own them. And of course there have been computers, starting with the Timex Sinclair, then onto a fantastic 6 year run on the Commodore 64 until the PC took over. Through it all, I've played hundreds, if not thousands of games. But the last four years of my life, I've narrowed it down to ONE game that I play exclusively, all year round. Madden football.
Aside from great game play, what's turned this into a completely addicting game is the franchise mode. By being able to run a team from year to year, working with a salary cap, dealing with player retirements and drafting new players, this game refuses to let go of my attention.
I want to emphasize the ability to draft and develop players. This reaches back to my old D&D days...it's the ability to take a character with different abilities and, through extensive gameplay, make that character into a near god. I've even modified the length of my games so that I can give these draft picks more playing time so that they develop faster. So now I spend almost two hours at a time just playing one "football week" of Madden. That's the equivalent of spending about an hour and a half playing the actual game and the other half hour poring over league activities.
And the more franchise years I play, the more involved I get. The game becomes almost secondary. Now I'm analyzing each box score to see how my former players (who I couldn't afford to pay any more due to the salary cap) are doing on other teams. With me about to end franchise year #8, I'm actually thinking about leaving the Raiders team I've built up and taking on another franchise and turning a perennial loser around. Even seeing how the computer would run the team I've molded for the last eight franchise years. But that's too much to do with the new Madden coming next week.
I'd like to thank my wife in advance for pre-ordering the game for me and for her understanding. I also want to apologize in advance for the next year in which I'm going to mentally disappear again for two hours at a time.