|« UT interviews Richmond coach Clawson||Division I-AA Shows Argument For Playoffs Isn't All Academic »|
That Old-Time Football, Black College-Style
By Eric Gwinn, Chicago Tribune
“Black College Football: The Xperience” is a new computer game with a potentially provocative name. Here’s the story behind it.
What Is It? A $40 video game for Windows-powered computers. It features teams from historically black colleges and universities, known as HBCUs. These schools have produced such NFL greats as Walter Payton (Jackson State), Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and Michael Strahan (Texas Southern).
Why a Game Featuring Only Black Colleges? Isn’t That Divisive? HBCUs do not exclude applicants based on race. They came into being more than 100 years ago, when blacks were barred from most U.S. higher-education institutions.
As far as video games go, HBCUs began appearing in Electronic Arts’ popular “NCAA Football” titles only recently. Nerjyzed Entertainment, a New Orleans video game company started by HBCU grads, saw an opportunity to make a game for a mostly overlooked population of gamers.
“We target the demographic from an HBCU standpoint, but it’s to be enjoyed by everyone,” says Jacqueline Beauchamp, CEO of Nerjyzed and an avid football gamer.
How Does the “Xperience” at a Black College Football Game Differ From, Say, a Northwestern-Notre Dame Game? On the field, not much, though the players are smaller and the play a little scrappier. It’s no exaggeration to say that at some games, halftime performances are more important than the game itself. “Black College Football: The Xperience” acknowledges this by including an interactive halftime show. Press your computer’s keys in the specified sequence, and the crowd roars, giving your team a performance boost in the third quarter.
Is the Game Any Good? It’s average. While gameplay is enjoyable enough, the minuses are hard to ignore. All the players move and act alike, and the game’s artificial intelligence can get out of whack. (I had to quit one game in the second quarter when all 22 players huddled at the 25-yard line to spend five agonizing minutes trying to recover a fumble.) The interactive halftime feature falls flat. The game doesn’t approach the polish of the “NCAA Football” titles, but Nerjyzed doesn’t have the billions of dollars that Electronic Arts has, either. The game will have to improve if it is to go to PlayStation and Xbox consoles.