I love violent video games and I love mixed martial arts. You would think the prospect of an uber-violent, over the-top-video game would be intriguing to someone like me. It should be intriguing to all MMA fans who are gamers, right?
Enter "Supremacy MMA," a new video game by 505 Games set to be released later this spring. Middle Easy posted a trailer for the new title which has been making the rounds on MMA and gaming blogs the past week.
Jens Pulver, one of my favorite fighters, is connected with this project. As most MMA fans know, Jens has fallen on hard times more than once in his career. He is infinitely likable and I'm happy he is getting a few sheckles to be part of a video game. With that said, I don't think this game is doing him or his sport any favors.
I'm of the mind that mixed martial arts as a whole is harmed by over the-top-interpretations like Supremacy MMA. That feels strange to say as a gamer, as I've long enjoyed games like Arch Rivals, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz and others of that ilk. Clearly these games are exaggerated interpretations of the sports they represent.
The difference is that the NBA is not battlling for mainstream relevance. They NFL is not fighting for pro football to become LEGAL in all 50 fifty states. Those sports are on entirely different planes of assimilation in our great country. MMA Convert sums it up nicely:
The trailer to Supremacy MMA, that new MMA video game, takes all the past stereotypes the sport has tried run away from in the past decade and embraces it with open arms.
That's what's at stake here: progress being negated. I do a lot of appearances for my radio job. I talk to LOTS of sports fans and when I do, I try to feel out their opinion of MMA. You should hear the questions I get asked. People wondering if eye gouging is legal. If groin kicks are legal. Asking how many people die in the cage. These are SPORTS FANS -- people you would assume are more inclined to be interested in fighting than your average soccer mom shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Mixed Martial Arts has a long way to go to educate their potential fan base. This game looks to be NOTHING like real MMA. The problem is, the majority of gamers probably will have no idea that it's nothing like MMA.
Check out this absolutely BRILLIANT ad campaign that EA is putting together for their upcoming video game Dead Space 2:
These moms all HATE Dead Space 2. But it ends there. hey can't hold a grudge against aliens vomiting on their children. When moms all start hating Supremacy MMA, it doesn't end there. My fear is that if people see this game, people will judge my favorite sport because of it. That is ignorant, mind you, but I don't think it matters.
THQ and to a lesser extent EA did a very good job of making the experience of playing an MMA video game as realistic as possible. That's where it should end at this point. As the sport continues to grow and be assimilated into the general populace, games like Supremacy MMA will become more appropriate. Until that happens though, MMA fighters and the MMA fanbase need to be very cautious about games like this. In most cases, they can do more harm than good.