Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi, a widely published columnist about the video game industry, writes the Gaming Guru blog for WRAL.com. He also writes about the interactive game industry for Local Tech Wire.
LAS VEGAS — Jerry Rice has done it all, both on the football field, in business and even on television with “Dancing with the Stars.” Now the former NFL Super Bowl champion has jumped into the videogame space with 2K Sports’ reboot of its best-selling NFL 2K franchise, All Pro Football 2K8.
The illustrious receiver and ballroom dancer took some time to talk about his involvement in the new game.
How’d you get involved in 2K Sports All-Pro Football 2K8?
It came about because I’m one of the legends. It’s all about legends and guys who pretty much paved the way for the NFL, and I think it’s a great concept because you get a chance to mix and match the guys you want together to play the game. I think it’s fantastic. And also, the animation is just unbelievable; it’s like being there at the game. My last football game…I cant’ even think about my last football game. I think it was like around 2004, and I think it’s just great being back on the football field again, and it’s just a great game to play.
Have you been a gamer at all growing up? Did you play videogames?
Not much. My son was really into it. But I have played this game, and it’s amazing. They have details like jet fighters flying over the stadium. The players are all talking during the game. I’m normally the quiet guy. I don’t say much, but they have me talking some noise in this game. It feels like being there on the football field, and I think 2K Sports did a fantastic job of bringing all of this to life.
You’re a competitive guy, obviously, and for a long time, gamers had a choice when it came to buying football videogames. That all changed a couple years when the NFL and EA Sports signed a deal to make Madden exclusive. This is the first time that people have a choice again. What are you thoughts about just giving people a choice of products out there?
I think it’s great. When NFL 2K5 came our back in the day, they sold like 3 million copies. I think with 2K Sports today, you might have EA Sports sell more copies, but 2K Sports is going to get better reviews because of the quality.
When you got your chance to play this game, who was on the team that you put together, since you get to pick from all these different legends out there?
You have Johnny Unitas. … You have so many great players you can go with in this game – Mike Singletary, Derek Thomas, the list goes on. It’s up to the player to create his team, and I think that makes everything special.
But for you personally, when you sit down, who’s your dream team that you put together?
Probably playing with Johnny Unitas. He was one of the exceptional quarterbacks out there, and I would love to be able to hook up with this guy.
And when you played this game, did you try at all the online ability of it? I want to get your thoughts on what you think about people being able to log online and play against people all over the country.
I think it’s great that you can play online, because you get a chance to pick the players that you wanted and you get a chance to compete, and there’s so many great legends that played this game and I’m sure that a lot of people, a lot of the younger generation, if they have heard of these players, now they can go back and they can choose those players to be a part of the game.
What’s it like to see yourself virtually in next generation graphics these days?
It’s exciting. It’s fun because I look at myself and I say, “Wow, it’s me.” It’s pretty cool. I think the thing is with the legends, what 2K Sports wanted to do was have anybody that’s played this game go back and pull guys from the past who really played the game with a lot of character and were very professional.
Now a lot of people also have watched you with "Dancing With the Stars." I know my wife was a big fan of yours because of that show, and it seems that these days they’re making videogames out of everything. I just want to get your thoughts on if you think dancing would make a good video game?
I think dancing with all of the coaches, without a doubt, would make a good game. You know dancing to me was an unbelievable workout. You really had to dedicate yourself to it, and I think it’ll be great for 2K8.
The other thing that is a possibility for 2K8 is the Nintendo Wii, which is getting kids off the sofa and actually physically involved in video games. I wanted to get your thoughts, because there is that potential down the road for them to bring this game out for the Wii.
Really, I don’t have much input on it. I’m not that familiar with the Wii, but anything that can get them off the couch and get them going, I think is exceptional.
What do you do for fun in your free time? I know you said you played this game a little bit, but what else do you like to do for fun?
Right now, I’m mentoring for Eddie Debartolo’s agency. I’m doing some work in LA on different shows like Deal or No Deal. I’m just staying active and staying busy. I’m having a great time.
Well that’s cool. Do you miss being on the field, the real field?
Yeah, I miss being on the field, but being part of this game is really special because I can always go back and relive my football days.