NCAA College Football 14: An Artistic Competition

 

The cover of each NCAA Football games is always voted on amongst the fans, this year it is represented by Denard Robinson of Michigan

 

What is a “Game”?

  • According to the Oxford Dictionary, a game is “a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”
  • And according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a game is defined as “a physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure.
  • “A game is a rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels emotionally attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are negotiable”.  – Jesper Juul

NCAA Football 14 is an American football simulator developed and produced by EA Sports. This game boasts numerous different online or offline, single or multiplayer game modes to not only be an escape for one person but also a competitive experience for friends sharing a room or an online server. There are numerous different means of playing this game as well by either taking on the role of a Head Coach and customizing that avatar with the allowed customizable options and choosing where he will be coaching for the next few years as you pursue top high school athletes and make your way to the top to eventually obtain the infamous National Championship Trophy. There is also a Road to Glory setting where you create a high school athlete and play as him as you traverse your senior season and dependant on how your performance was you will then choose a university who had offered you a scholarship to play for them in the upcoming years. This game mode includes climbing your way to the starting position on the team and competing against others in order to help lead your team all the way. Like the installments, prior to this game, there is still a quick play mode and a mascot game to play as well.

 

RTG is one of the various game modes to experience

 

NCAA College Football 14 As a Game

Through the lens of a “game”, NCAA 14 I feel, falls perfectly in that spectrum being a competitive, rule-based, sport of skill and strength. As Juul describes games as “an activity which is essential: free (voluntary), separate [in time and place], uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe.” (Juul). You are in a competition to either beat the AI or another player. The goal of the game is simply to win. You are free to choose from a host of different college football teams, to play at numerous different fields with different offensive and defensive schemes to try and best your opponent.  I personally have sunk an incredible amount of hours into this game, toggling the difficulty and increasing my player skill in order to beat the best. I found most of the enjoyment from the game has come from the Dynasty feature where you assume the role of an active head coach for a college team. My enjoyment comes from coaching a “cupcake” team such as New Mexico, UMass, or Air Force and seeing if I can take them to the big game and win it all. Like I said, I have sunk a lot of hours into this game and that is because it relies heavily on player skill and recruitment strength. You must devise a mean of recruiting excellent high school athletes and train them so they may compete to their highest level against the other schools.

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As a game, this installment of the series remains fresh and always continues to be an enjoyable experience. Though it is 4 years old now, this game is still one worth keeping for my PlayStation 3 and that is for the easy to hop in games and always fun and competitive feel that it brings to the table, more so than Madden in my opinion.

What is Art?

  • According to the Oxford Dictionary, “art” is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
  • And according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “art” can be defined as “skill acquired by experience, study, or observation; and occupation requiring knowledge or skill.” such as the “art” of making friends, or in this case, the ART of customizing, strategizing, and mastering the game.

NCAA College Football 14 as an Art

 

party 23.png
My attempt at creating a team through the TeamBuilder website

 

This installment of the franchise offers a wide array of customizability to a tune for all the different players and fans of the game. From choosing your favorite teams to the gear worn by your players, the design and look of the coaching staff and the field with completely customizable uniforms and players inside of the newest TeamBuilder feature that EA Sports has provided. Through this feature, you can also search for and download different teams generated from different users keeping the community alive and running as well as witnessing and experiencing the artworks of another player. This goes into Becker’s opinion of works of art when he says,“works of art, from this point of view, are not the products of individual makers, “artists” who possess a rare and special gift. They are, rather, joint products of all the people who cooperate via an art world’s characteristic conventions to bring works like that into existence.” (Becker)  You as a player now have the freedom to create your OWN team on top of the 150 different teams already programmed within the game. Through this feature you can upload photos and create uniforms for the players, you can toggle the skill levels of the individual players as well as spec them to a specific strength they may possess (some more run heavy, hard hitting, coverage, speed, or power). These different features and constant creativity from the player’s end is a strong component as to why I feel this game will stand the test of time as it continues to feel fresh each time I play it time and time again.

 

Illustrates the customizability of the game

 

What really stands out to me through the lens of “art” when looking at NCAA 14 is the occupational requiring knowledge or skill to play. What I mean by that, is this game is extremely tactical, more so than most make it out to be. It takes prior knowledge of the sport to help the player excel. Knowledge such as, when to call timeouts to maximize time, knowing which new recruit would fit best in the program that you are trying to run, to knowing your strengths and weaknesses in your defense and making adjustments towards the identified strengths and weaknesses of the offense and vice versa. It is a tactical game and there is an acquired skill that goes into truly mastering the game. To me, that is the beauty of this game, finding the best way to attack and at the same time strategizing my squad in order to reach the overarching, sole purpose of the game, to win.

 

 

 

Winning is not everything, it is the ONLY thing

 

Sources:

Jesper Juul. (2005). “Video Games and the Classic Game Model” in Half-Real: Video Gamesbetween Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: MIT Press: pp. 23-54. [PDF]

Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley:University of California Press: pp. 1-39.

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7 thoughts on “NCAA College Football 14: An Artistic Competition

  1. I loved the NCAA games! I was bummed out when they stopped making them but i understood, those kids deserve to get paid! I like how you brought up the community aspect of the game. The download aspect of the game is what makes it special. People being able to share their creations with each other is awesome. Also the tactical aspect is so true. People take NCAA as an easy game but man is it hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading your post, great use of typography along with outstanding structure. There’s so much that goes into this game and I think you did a great job explaining the work. I’ve never played this game before but learning about its wide array of customizability makes me want to play it since I like games where the player has a lot of control.

    Like

  3. The way you broke down your article and your points was great, just one question, what university would you have signed up to after playing as a high school teen to get a good scholarship?

    Like

  4. NCAA was one of my favorite games on console because I enjoy college sports. I believe you did a pretty good job at explaining the game and how it related to art, that coming from someone who has played the game. I feel you did a good job as using Juul for argument of what can be considered a game and how NCAA was. I liked reading on the Team Builder feature because I thought that was something cool they brought out to really allow some player to really connect with the game by making their own teams.Your point on the tactical aspect is also very true, you really need to know your prior knowledge to fully utilize your player to the max. Overall awesome post!

    Like

  5. I loved the way you broke down the game and different aspects. Helping the readers understand the game is always awesome. Also the way you create your “fan art” with your own UC Merced Bobcat football team was dope. Good way to create a connect of the game to game art / art game.

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  6. Really enjoyed your analysis, Is there a reason you chose NCAA instead of Madden? I understand and love the concept of college football, wish we had one but is there a major difference between both?

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  7. I freaking love the NCAA games, I’m so sad that they discontinued making them I feel like they still would’ve been successful. I feel like in college sports in general it is more interesting that professionals because you can never know what to expect. For example in March Madness there is an incredible amount of upsets that are always occurring. I really liked the part of the game where you are able to create your team. Great visuals you used to help support your argument. I especially liked the picture of you creating your UC Merced football team because we still are yet to have one for the school, but I’ve heard of this team called the Thundercats that played against some schools last year. Have you heard of the Thundercats team of UCM?

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