In older versions of EA Sports market-owning football video game sold under the auspices of longtime NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden, a player might suffer a concussion and be forced to the sidelines for a short time. A tweak to that feature is earning the latest edition, Madden 12, free and positive publicity from children’s watchdog organizations.
According to one report, Madden himself discussed the issue of concussions in football with the New York Times. He said, “It starts with young kids — they start in video games. I think the osmosis is if you get a concussion, that’s a serious thing and you shouldn’t play. Or leading with the head that you want to eliminate. We want that message to be strong.”
The upshot is that if a concussion occurs during a game, the player is no longer out for just a couple of plays. It is treated as a serious matter, sending the message to children that they should also treat it as a serious matter when they are on a field rather than in front of a television set.
Children’s entertainment watchdog Common Sense gave Madden 12 a very favorable plug. CEO James Steyer said, “Video game technology grows more sophisticated and creative every year, and it’s wonderful to see a game developer use that creative energy to empower kids to make safe, smart, and responsible decisions. Video games provide not only entertainment, but also exciting opportunities for education, both in the classroom and in the living room. We commend John Madden and the team at Electronic Arts for recognizing the responsibility they have to help kids bring important lessons from the virtual field to the real one, such as concussion prevention and safety. This is a great step forward in demonstrating the immense possibilities of video games for learning and behavior change. We hope more game developers follow in their footsteps.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Researchers have been noting for some time that there is revenue to be made by promoting causes popular with people who are also consumers. Corporate responsibility can be more than a good thing, it can also be a profitable thing. There may be no such thing as bad publicity, and if that’s true, you just have to adore free positive publicity.