Video games more than just fun

Clovis seniors Matt Ulibarri, center, and Brian Hudson, right, face each other during a game of NCAA Football 2006 by EA Sports Friday as Clovis junior Cade Wheeler, left, watches. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

Football video games have come a long way since the days of hand-held electronic football with red bleeps running from other red bleeps.

The latest video games like Electronic Arts’ Madden 2006 and NCAA 2006 not only look real, but players can run screens, draws, sweeps, post patterns, zone coverages and blitzes. You name it and, like EA’s slogan says, it’s in the game.

Because football games have gotten so advanced, they can be used for more than just killing time after school. They can be a training tool for the real thing.

“I think it helps me a lot,” Clovis senior Matt Ulibarri said. “As a quarterback, it helps me decipher coverages. I can recognize cover one, cover two, and cover three a lot easier now that I’ve been playing Madden.”

Ulibarri said Madden 2006’s new feature, quarterback vision, makes the game even more realistic.

“On the new Madden you have the QB’s eye,” he said. “You have to look exactly at your receiver. You have to find the open guy. It’s just like reading the field in a real game.”

Junior Cade Wheeler said Madden has helped him in the backfield.

“Seeing the different kinds of counter traps and sweeps and reverses they have,” he said, “it really does help on stuff like that.”

Clovis line coach Joaquin Garcia plays video games with his sons Joaquin, 11, and Julio, 10. Garcia’s approach to the game is something less than educational.

“When I play I throw all the time,” he said. “I throw it every down, and I run a bunch of trick plays.”

Garcia said video games have helped kids learn about the game, but they can fill players heads with unrealistic ideas, especially for Clovis’ meat-and-potatoes offense.

“They’ll run some kind of fancy play and say ‘Coach, we should run this,’” he said. “And I say, ‘No, Coach (Eric) Roanhaus would never go for that.’”

Ulibarri and Wheeler said they create themselves and their friends on the games. In one game, however, they do not need to create a player to play with someone they know.

Although EA is not allowed to use their names, former Clovis standouts Joe Garcia of Texas Tech and Hank Baskett of the University of New Mexico are represented in NCAA 2006 by their numbers and likeness.

Senior Brian Hudson takes player creation to the next level. He said he created the entire Clovis team on his game.

Hudson has not caught a pass all season, but he says on his game, he’s the best player and the rest of the team is average.

“I always wanted to do the reverse where the receiver throws the ball,” Hudson said. “But we’ll never do that here.”

Hudson remembered that junior Rishard Matthews had a pass attempt on a reverse against Goddard.

“Well, actually we do kinda do that, but not with me,” Hudson laughed.

Joaquin Garcia said he sees players knowing more about football before they get to the practice field.

“I think with my sons and younger kids it kinda introduces them to the game a little bit,” he said. “A lot of kids gain the knowledge of football and plays. They’ll know how to run the option, throw an out or a square in, stuff like that.

“For the most part I think kids are learning more about football,” Garcia said, “but I think it’s better for them to get out there and play.