In last week’s edition of our free weekly newsletter, the ITL Friday Wrap, we had the story of how former NFL offensive tackle Clint Oldenburg transitioned from the pro game to video games. Today, we expand on our conversation with Clint and ask him more questions about the future of Madden Football, of video games in general, and how they intersect with the game on the field.

By the way, Clint talks about how EA Sports and the NFL are engaging to make teams even better, and how that could take shape in the future, in this week’s edition of the Friday Wrap (sign up for it here).

What is the next frontier for video games as they intersect with sports, specifically football? Are we reaching the limits, or scratching the surface?

“We are just scratching the surface. Not only with video games, but with technology in general. As the technology improves every single year, the possibilities are really endless, be it video games, virtual reality, next-gen stats or something cool yet to be discovered. Where we’re at right now is a great base for teaching football fundamentals – many kids today know what cover-2 is because they play Madden.  The next frontier, I think, is virtual reality in both the teaching aspect and player safety aspect, as well as next-gen stats which are beginning to be used to track players’ health and athletic habits beyond the standard football statistics. I personally foresee these technologies being used heavily in the next 3-5 years and beyond as football starts to use more metrics following the path of Billy Beane’s Oakland Moneyball model.

How has your college football playing experience enhanced your work in the video game field? Do you see others deferring to you because of your on-field experience?

“This was the primary driver in my getting the position I was offered. I often tell people my college and NFL experience got my foot in the door, but my humility, communication skills and willingness to work as a team got the me the job. But to answer the question directly, yes, my football experience helps us make our game more authentic. There’s certain things I can see when I watch football that others cannot. For example, when a QB gets sacked on Sunday, commentary teams and fans are quick to blame the offensive line. But because I can see the protection scheme the team is trying to employ, I know almost right away if the sack was actually on the RB or the QB as opposed to the OL. I also tend to be the ‘go-to guy’ on our team about NFL rules & regulations, specific techniques being coached and how players think when breaking the huddle.”

Do you think we’ll ever see an interface that reads the video game player’s thoughts and takes away the need for a controller? 

“It’s on the horizon, but I can’t say when this will be a reality. There are a lot of discoveries happening right now around eye tracking and machine learning, but we’re not yet quite sure how much carry-over they have to video games, especially complex sports games like ours that offer a lot of different choices and strategic decisions. It would be short-sighted to say there’s absolutely no chance of that happening in the future, but there’s still a lot of work that has to be done to make those options viable in the immediate future. Fortunately, there’s a lot of brilliant people much smarter than me working in the software development industry that are going to solve all these problems and unlock an unlimited amount of possibilities for all of us as we move forward into the future.”

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