Watching six real football players compete in a video game of the sport had its moments. It’s fun to know Tim Tebow springs to his feet when he plays Madden NFL, and that he feels comfortable playing in a purple tie and UGG shoes.
On the other hand, for the 1,000 or so people gathered at the Electronic Arts Sports Madden Bowl XVIII last night, it may have been more fun just to hang out, drink Bud Light.
The tournament and party took place in a tent in downtown Indianapolis set up as the event space for the Bud Light Hotel next door. Guests entered through the hotel (a temporarily rebranded Hampton Inn), walking past a mural composed of blue-and-white bottle caps
The red carpet offered sightings of Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears and Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns.
In the tent, waitresses passed fried shrimp and Mexican fare. Sandy Sandoval, head of athlete relations for Electronic Arts Sports, tended to mezzanine guests sitting on shiny black couches.
Tournament players sat in cushy black armchairs in the front of the room, their backs turned to guests and below the stage where the Roots and Nas played later.
Tebow of the Denver Broncos and Jimmy Graham and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints played as the Green Bay Packers against Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Barry Sanders and Warren Sapp, who played as the New Orleans Saints.
The Packers won.
On a Loveseat
While the awarding of a trophy got everyone’s attention, for the most part the actual playing of the video game was like really good background music at a party.
Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins and his wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall, sat on a loveseat in the mezzanine.
Do they play Madden together?
“No,” Marshall said laughing.
“We play almost every game together,” Nogami-Marshall offered. “Cards, miniature golf, but as far as Madden goes, I don’t play with him.”
Steve Johnson of the Buffalo Bills and his wife, Britney, said they play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
“I used to give him a hard time about playing video games, and then I started playing,” Britney Johnson said. “I feel guilty.”
“She’s better than me,” her husband boasted as he put his arm around her. “She knows how to hide out.”
“I like it because it feels like we’re on a mission together,” she said.
“Yeah, we play with the lights off,” he added.
On the main floor, Sarah Blanchard, a dental student at Indiana University, explained why she likes watching her boyfriend, Mark Anderko, a fellow dental student and a comedian, play Madden.
“He played in the Colts stadium and it looked just like it,” Blanchard said. “I’m not much of a gamer, but this was so realistic it made me want to try.”
“I’m not good at it,” said New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle, dressed in a leather coat by Elevee. “I don’t spend a lot of time playing video games. I’m more of a movie watcher -- comedy, drama.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)