Tuesday's title update for Madden NFL 11 included the "Breast Cancer Awareness" presentation mode reflecting the league's support - and Electronic Arts' - of the campaign. It's a lot more than a banner across the bottom of the screen.
Simply from the perspective of gameday realism, always a priority of any sports developer, the mode makes a lot of sense. EA Sports puts holiday accents on games played around Thanksgiving and Christmas in its franchise modes, so why not the pink-accented field emblems and uniform pieces seen when the NFL plays its games in October, when the league participates in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Of course, it's also for a good cause, making this a commendable gesture by EA Sports as well as value-add for the gamers. The level of detail is comprehensive, as you can see in the gallery at the bottom. In addition to the scoreboard graphic, pink ribbon field art and player wristbands, shoes and hand towels, the color shows up in the officiating crew's hats, on the goal post padding, logos on the head coaches shirts, Gatorade coolers on the sideline, and fan's apparel. This is all what you'd expect to see on your TV during the October games. EA Sports even recreated the special football with the pink ribbon logo. Go ahead, freeze frame it and zoom in.
The support of the campaign will carry into the real world, too. Electronic Arts is donating $100,000 to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure foundation, the leading philanthropy backing breast cancer early detection awareness and medical research. A pink-edition Madden NFL 11, for all three consoles, will be sold at Best Buys in October as well.
"EA Sports is honored to work with Susan G Komen for the Cure in the fight against breast cancer," senior director of marketing, Chris Erb, said in a statement to Kotaku. "We are committed to raising breast cancer awareness and eager to give our fans an opportunity to participate in finding a cure."
This is a game and a developer that's taken some knocks from the hardcore for its in-game advertising. But what EA Sports has done with Breast Cancer Awareness demonstrates it's possible for a publisher and its creative staff to also send public-spirited messages that don't intrude on the enjoyment of a video game and still fulfill their purpose. It's an awareness campaign, and now gamers are aware.
"Breast Cancer Awareness Mode" shows up when your team, in franchise mode, plays a game on its October schedule (regardless of the real life date). It's also one of the three special presentation modes in the Play Now menu, joining the Super Bowl and AFL throwback packages.
So if you're gonna catch flak from someone for starting up the console to play Madden, pick this presentation and say you're raising awareness of the need for early detection of cancer, and supporting research for a cure. Really, who's going to argue with that?