Misc

Misc
12 Games That Defined Their Genres

The Escapist Staff | 8 Dec 2010 21:00
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John Madden Football

Genre: Sports
First Released: 1988
Platform: Apple II, Commodore 64
Developer: EA, John Madden

Many games tried to emulate the action of common sports like soccer, tennis and baseball. In 1988, Trip Hawkins from Electronic Arts wanted to create a game based on American football that accurately simulated what a real football game is like. Following in the footsteps of Earl Weaver Baseball, EA contacted John Madden, former coach of the Los Angeles Raiders and a popular commentator for the sport, to contribute his expertise to the development of the game. The early PC versions were limited by the technical capabilities of the time, and Madden's insistence on each team having 11 players, but when the game was ported to the Sega Genesis in 1991, the series took off. An update was released the following year with more features and teams, which began the now common practice of annual sports game updates. After knocking off a few competitors like Joe Montana Football and acquiring the NFL license in 1994, Madden was soon the most recognizable name in sports gaming and led to the creation of a separate EA Sports brand.

What Madden did that no other sports videogame did well was to meld accurate simulation with the action of the game itself. To excel at Madden, you not only have to be able to juke and shake tacklers, but you have to know the right play to call in a given situation. Nowadays, it's a common feature for each team or player to feel as close to their real-world counterpart as possible, but that wasn't standard until Madden. Without Madden, we'd have no FIFA, no Mario Strikers and maybe even no NBA Jam. And that would be a sad world.


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Originator: Pong

Genre: Sports
First Released: 1972
Platform: Arcade
Developer: Atari

We wouldn't have any videogames without Pong, let alone any sports games. Assigned as an exercise to Allan Alcorn, Atari was so impressed with Pong's recreation of table tennis physics that they started producing and selling cabinets across the country. For many, Pong was a proof of concept for what was possible for videogames. It was also a simple game that all ages of consumers could understand, which is a tenet of sports games even today with titles like Wii Sports. The widespread success of the game planted the seeds for the nascent videogame industry as a whole, while also inspiring the development of sports videogames for years to come.

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