Jeff Blair, sports columnist for The Globe and Mail, commented in this Monday's paper about the upcoming unveiling of the cover athlete for EA Sports's NHL 12. Blair makes the obvious suggestion of Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas fresh off of his totally not riot-inducing Stanley Cup win, but takes more time noting one of the EA stalwart's new features: goalie fights.
"Goalies Drop the Gloves," notes EA's promotional site for NHL 12. "When the action boils over, send a message by leaving the net, dropping the gloves, and trading punches with a heated rival during fights."
Blair doesn't hide his venom for the idea. "Well, colour us thrilled! There really is a special place in hell for these people, no? No report on whether you can pick a city of your choice to burn after your team craps the bed in the playoffs."
Incendiary words to be sure. But that brings up what I think is a more legitimate question: are goalie fights really a good feature for hockey video games? I've always thought that sports games were an arena for gamers and fans to enact their own fantasy scenarios – a friend of mine regularly plays with the Toronto Maple Leafs and wins, for heaven's sake. And hockey fights have been a part of the games for years.
So here's my question, readers. Do hockey video games, and other sports games by extension, have a social responsibility not to promote the rougher, and sometimes dangerous, elements of a game? Or is it a good arena to play out all the fantastic and ridiculous scenarios possible?
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