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Sunday 16th December, 2018

Bizarre Thought for the Week, w/c 8th January 2007
Tony Dobson

Tony Dobson - virtual Buccaneer.
Tony Dobson - virtual Buccaneer.
Hi all,
On a Boxing Day visit to my in-laws I had an interesting conversation with my brother-in-law. We were talking about computer games and learning the controls for them, and I started to refer to the latest addition to my collection.

"Lorraine got me Madden '07 for Christmas," I said. Before I could detail the eight pages worth of instructions regarding controls in the manual my brother-in-law interrupted me. "Is Lorraine mad?", he asked. "I mean, she'll never see you now." To be honest, it's a fair point.

And so my ongoing affair with my favourite game series of all time continues. Right from the formative days of the series on a friend's megadrive, to recovering from glandular fever with Madden '99, the post-honeymoon purchase of Madden 2002 (having avoided buying it from any stores in Florida while on honeymoon), the sleepless nights enjoyed after Lorraine gave me Madden 2004 when she was working on a nightshift on Boxing Day, and now against the odds, Madden '07.

How was receiving this from Lorraine unexpected? Let's just say it doesn't look promising when you suggest a present to your wife and she says, ""Why would I give you something which encourages you to use the computer?" Fortunately there wasn't really anything else I wanted for Christmas so it was what I received. I was actually really excited about getting it, opening it, installing it and then playing it. And yes, I know I'm 31, married and a father. Sue me.

Of course with Christmas Day being Christmas Day and my being over the age of twelve (least of all a husband and father) I can't just run off and play with my new toys any longer. No, it was about 10pm by the time I got to run Madden 07 for the first time. I loaded it up and was greeted by one of the inspiring clips of NFL Films music. I couldn't help but nod my head in appreciation and anticipation.

And the game? Well in pure game mode it is much the same as other versions I have played. For the first time I was playing a version with the Quarterback vision on. Turns out it isn't the horrendous innovation I had expected it to be. Eight pages of instructions there might be, but for impatient men who've played it before it is easy to pick up if you can remember what's gone before.

One of the reasons people keep coming back to update their versions of Madden is for roster updates. You can go through the chore of trying to keep 32 teams of 40-plus players up to date yourself, or you can just buy a new version. As patches for rosters to use with Madden 2004 stopped being updated years ago this was my first chance to play as the 2006 Miami Dolphins. If only the Madden version of Daunte Culpepper had been in South Florida instead of the still-injured and under-performing version.

I won my first game 54-7, which would have been 56-0 had I not:
i) Been too casual with an extra point attempt and consequently hooking it wide of the left-hand upright.
ii) Tried a two-point conversion to try and make up the lost point.
iii) Been distracted by my daughter into allowing a 76 yard pass reception for a TD (I sense this will become a running theme in the months and years to come).

Still, at least I beat the Jets, more than the real Dolphins would do against the real Jets in the early hours of Boxing Day (UK time). Unfortunately for me it isn't the only way that Madden is better than reality. Yes, it would soon be time to put myself into the game, replicating my height (yes), weight (ok), build (hmmm?), speed (cough) and jumping ability (choking and spluttering) and putting it into pixel form.

And so I entered the Superstar Mode of Madden '07, creating myself as a wide receiver from the University of Georgia (probably an improvement on the actual university I went to if you asked my Mother). After completing the initial drills of the game I enter the draft, fearful of being picked up by a team I hate (yes, Buffalo, that means you).

I needn't have worried. I was heading towards the Gulf Coast of Florida. I'm a virtual Tampa Bay Buccaneer! Fortunately knowing the area a bit I was able to pick out various locations from the satellite map of the city and amuse Lorraine as much as I was amusing myself. "Work in Tampa, live in Clearwater?" I suggested to Lorraine. It sounded pretty good. Pity it is virtual and not actual. (In case you hadn't guessed Superstar Mode is quite detailed and time-consuming, and so I've barely scratched the surface of it so far. Lots of fun though.)

One final note on Madden '07. Thanks to now former-Dolphins coach Nick Saban's defection to the University of Alabama I'll have to change the playbooks I have setup in my profile, just so I don't have my enjoyment of the game ruined by seeing his name appear. Thanks for that, Nick. I'll look forward to seeing if I can name some plays, "Creep north", "Run and hide" and "Lie to the media and fans".

Have a good week!

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