Madden's Next Victim?

Vince Young isn't scared of the `curse' of the NFL game cover

May 03, 2007

Tennessee Titans fans are biting their nails now that their quarterback, Vince Young, has been chosen to grace the cover of EA Sports' Madden NFL 08. It's a big honor in a world where more kids are likely to play Madden than watch Young on TV, but there's a catch: the notorious Madden curse.

Since 2001, every athlete who has appeared on the Madden box has been injured the next season. Last year's model, Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, broke his left foot and missed six games. But Young, last season's NFL Rookie of the Year, told ESPN.com, "I am on the cover, and I am not worried about the curse."

Another star from 2006, San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, was thought to be a candidate for this year's Madden. But CNBC reported that Tomlinson turned down EA's offer -- and not because of the curse. According to CNBC, Tomlinson thought the gig didn't pay enough. EA denied the story, saying Young was the first choice all along.

Video truce

Miami attorney Jack Thompson and Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive have been "The Lockhorns" of video games, seemingly locked in a bitter battle that wasn't likely to end until one of them died. Last time we heard from the fun couple, they had filed suits in Florida dealing with Thompson's anticipated attempts to stop the sale of the forthcoming Grand Theft Auto IV and Manhunt 2.

Much to everyone's surprise, though, the old foes have actually agreed to drop all their lawsuits against each other. As part of the settlement, Thompson agreed that he wouldn't try to legally block the sale or distribution of any Take-Two games -- although he's still free to criticize them.

Thompson had a busy couple of weeks. Along with "Dr. Phil" McGraw, he was all over the airwaves trying to make the connection between violent video games and the killings at Virginia Tech -- despite the lack of any evidence that shooter Seung-Hui Cho played such games.

Game violence

The latest politician to take aim at video-game violence is New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. "It is now pretty well established that certain types of videos and images have an effect on behavior," Spitzer said, promising legislation that will restrict children's access to "violent and degrading" DVDs and games.

Retailers that sell such product to underage buyers would be sanctioned, the governor said, although it's not clear how stiff the punishment would be.

The governor might want to take note of other states' efforts to punish retailers for selling violent games. Last year, a Louisiana law along those lines was rejected as unconstitutional; the state was eventually ordered to pay $91,000 in lawyers' fees to the game industry. According to the Electronic Software Association, it was the ninth time in seven years that a law seeking to restrict game sales had been struck down or enjoined.

Digital Samaritan

Props to Sony and the crew at Insomniac Games, who sprang into action to help out a 9-year-old gamer. James Westbrook of Lawton, Okla., was paralyzed in a car accident last year; his father is an Iraq war veteran who was paralyzed in Iraq two years earlier. When ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition went to rebuild the Westbrooks' home, they learned that James was a budding game designer.

That's where the Insomniac crew came in. The studio created a digital version of James and made him a flying saucer pilot in the forthcoming PlayStation 3 game Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.

"This opportunity to help such an amazing family with our game-making experience was a real honor," said Insomniac CEO Ted Price. . [ASSOCIATED PRESS]

Nintendo headset

Nintendo has stepped up the online functionality of everyone's favorite handheld gaming system with the Nintendo DS Headset, allowing you to speak with friends around the globe whenever you want -- for free. All you need is a DS (obviously), a game (again, obviously) and each other's "friend code" -- and then you can chat up a storm from any Nintendo Wi-Fi network in the world. Beats long-distance phone rates, that's for sure. About the size and weight of a Bluetooth unit, with a cord running from the headset to the DS, the headset fits pretty comfortably. The sound is pretty smooth, as well, so miscommunication is kept to a minimum -- assuming you speak the same language, of course. Best of all: It's a mere 10 bucks. . [TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES]

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