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Rubin: Electronic Arts’ ‘NCAA Football’ franchise needs to reassess priorities



Beginning this fall, Kain Colter will be the starting quarterback for Northwestern University, taking over for multiyear star Dan Persa. It’s fair to say that both college football and Northwestern fans alike look forward to using him in the latest iteration of Electronic Arts’ NCAA Football video game series, which was released on July 10.

Colter is a six-foot-tall player with light-brown skin, but in “NCAA Football 13,” he’s white, stocky and has red hair — something that does not sit well with the signal caller.

“Wow … so they made me white with red hair on NCAA #disrespectful,” he tweeted upon learning of his unwanted makeover.

This is a problem that has plagued NCAA video games for years: EA trying to put out realistic rosters and representations of our favorite collegiate stars without compensating the players for their likenesses. EA also releases the Madden NFL franchise each year, but NFL players receive a cut of the profits — unlike the “amateurs” of the collegiate ranks.

With EA in the midst of fighting a class-action lawsuit led by former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller, they went out of their way to show the public – and the legal experts – that the speedster in University of Oregon’s backfield isn’t De’Anthony Thomas,@@well, who is it?@@ though everyone under the sun knows otherwise — including former UO great LaMichael James.

James tweeted: “They got (Thomas) on the NCAA (sic) to real! I had 250 (yards), 9 carries yesterday lets just say I won the day but I lost the game lol.” Sorry LaMike, but that’s “RB #6” who — although he’s the same height and weight as Thomas and has the same skill set — is of course not meant to represent the star sophomore at all.

When one takes a closer look at the UO’s roster, it’s hard not to throw the controller down and walk away. For example: Redshirt sophomore Dustin Haines (Don’t give me any of that “QB #14” crap) is not only listed as the backup to Bryan Bennett — he’s rated at 80 overall out of 100.@@what does this mean?@@ In comparison, redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota is rated 75. Yes, you read that right; the guy who holds up the famed play cards is noticeably better than the possible starter.

Want another example? This one’s short and to the point: Junior placekicker Alejandro Maldonado – the one who was shaky from outside 30 yards last year – is rated 90 overall. UO’s All-Pac-12 punter Jackson Rice, on the other hand, is 89. If one UO football fan writes me to defend this travesty, so help me I’ll destroy your tickets for the upcoming season.

EA’s been doing the same song and dance for a number of years now, and it needs to stop. Nobody expects perfect rosters. Additionally it’s possible for individual users to edit the players on the game — all the way down to the length of their socks.@@so this is how ea escapes having to pay for the likeness@@However, when I saw this year’s game, it felt like a slap in the face. This is a game that’s marketed as a college football experience, yet EA seems to have gone away from the core of the game — playing as your favorite team and its stars — in order to cover its own ass.

If EA wants to prove that they’re serious about putting out a world-class product like they have in the past, why not insert themselves into the ongoing pay-for-play debate going on around NCAA athletics? I’m no financial advisor, but I’d imagine that EA could contribute either directly or indirectly to the student-athletes in an equal manner without going bankrupt.@@im sure ncaa would love that@@They would gain unparalleled publicity with the move, and if collegiate athletes win the right to compensation, EA would have the ability to create and market accurate player models across the board.@@but college football players are students first, right? /sarcasm@@

It’s likely that both Microsoft and Sony will be releasing new gaming consoles for the 2013 holiday season, so why not make this change in tandem with the release of new hardware? EA, you’re welcome to take this idea and run with it, but don’t bother giving me credit@@”but don’t bother giving me credit” — what?@@ — I don’t trust you to do it right.

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