Guilty Pleasures Of EA Sports

For as long as I’ve been a hockey fan, I’ve been a fan of video games in which I can control a hockey team and its players. I’m not an avid gamer, but when it comes to the EA Sports franchise of NHL games, I’ve always been hooked. I’ve spent money on gaming consoles for those games alone – since the first one I played, NHL94 for the Super Nintendo. Sure, there were games before EA Sports, like cleverly titled Ice Hockey and the glorious Blades of Steel – and there were games after it, such as the 2K Hockey series and the dreadful Wayne Gretzky’s Stanley Cup. But EA Sports is the only franchise that remained consistently enjoyable. They keep it modern and allow for so many variations of game play – from being a player to being a general manager. But, there is still that one thing that bugs me, but I can’t be the only one, right?

The latest edition, NHL12, is a phenomenal game. My problem is nothing aesthetic about the game or about how it controls. My problem is psychological and I found out last night that this problem is still on-going.

I’m addicted Be-a-Pro mode right now – controlling my created player through an entire career. I’m still in my rookie season, but I’ve been tearing it up since winning the Memorial Cup and being drafted first overall to the Edmonton Oilers (I’m the new Ryan Nugent-Hopkins!). It was great to be in the Western Conference and being able to absolutely destroy all the teams that I can’t stand in the NHL.

But then it happened. The next game on my schedule was against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it was in the St. Pete Times Forum. I froze. What options did I have? I could simulate the game, but that affects your players stats and his spot on the roster. I had to play the Bolts.

I’ve had various teams over the years that I’ve considered favourites and this problem has affected me since NHL94 – I feel guilty beating my favourite team. In older games, I would just simulate and take the loss. I can’t do that here. My season is almost done and there are still tasks that need to be accomplished, not to mention setting a league record for best regular season. I can’t add another loss.

So I did what I had to do. I played the game, giving my own player as few shifts as possible, trying to let the artificial intelligence of the Playstation 3 work its own wonder. It was in fates hands most of the time. My teeth were clenched the whole game. My hands were sweating and I could barely manoeuvre the controller. Steve Downie started a fight with me and I couldn’t even bring myself to throw a punch. It was nerve-wracking.

And then it was over and I read the final score. The Edmonton Oilers had won 5-3. I’m sorry, Tampa Bay. I’m so sorry.

Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters


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