Madden NFL scores in Roseville

Teens put video game talent to test in tournament
By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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It’s truly an unstoppable force, a marvel in the world of electronics, advertising, business and software.

Its familiar brand has become a national icon and dominated its market. It has evolved over the years into a fascinating work of art, from its bare start-up to its current technical delivery.

“It” is the Madden NFL video game. Since its original release date in 1988, then known as John Madden Football, Madden NFL is the single-most popular sports video game ever with sales into the millions every year.

The sweeping popularity of Madden NFL found its way into Roseville last Saturday, when Blacktop Comedy owner Paul Burke held a prize tournament called MaddenTopiaOcolypse. Winners received free tickets and other benefits.

“I play a lot of video games,” Burke said. “When I’m not doing comedy or improv, I like to play a lot of games. We knew that this would be a fun thing to do, so we put this together.”

Madden NFL is a realistic re-creation of NFL football, with all 32 teams and players installed into the game. A new version is released every season with updated rosters and new features. The competitors at Burke’s tournament were all teenagers, and all were skilled in the game.

“I play Madden some, but not nearly as much as these guys,” Burke joked. “That’s why I’m not in the tournament.”

In addition to the tournament, Burke also held a charity bake sale. Proceeds went to Big Brothers Big Sisters, a charity that helps mentor troubled children and young adults.

The Madden craze has risen to a media superpower. Tournaments are held across the country and include large cash prizes and benefits. Reality television series have been done to follow Madden tournament players. Even NFL players hold an annual “Madden Bowl” to determine the best in the NFL.

“I think people just like to prove that they’re better than other people,” Burke said, explaining why Madden is such a huge success. “Football is an amazingly popular sport.”

The game is named after Pro Football Hall of Famer and former NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden. He won a Super Bowl ring in 1977 as coach of the Oakland Raiders and went on to become one of the most successful TV analysts in the NFL. He retired from broadcasting in 2009 but remains the namesake and a consultant for the game.