Framing My Online Game Experience Using Dynasty Wire
I’ve been playing college football video games for a long time, but from my memorable moments with Bill Walsh College Football (1994) until now, there has never been anything like Dynasty Wire. Why am I so amped about this feature? Simply put, it adds a new layer of depth to an already deep game. It publishes the results of your online dynasty games (complete with stats, pictures, and video) on the web for others to see, but it also allows you to frame the events any way you want. That first part excites the gamer in me. The second intrigues me as a media researcher.
For those who don’t know, Dynasty Wire (DW) is a new feature in EA Sports’ NCAA Football 11. It connects your online dynasty with the EA Sports website thereby empowering you to tweak and fiddle with your dynasty whenever you can get to your computer, iphone, or ipad. Players now have the freedom to manage their online dynasty teams on the console, the website, or both. However not only can you recruit players, check your schedule, and see the results from all your games, but DW also grants you the ability to create stories from scratch or edit the existing stories automatically generated from your games. It’s pretty good stuff, even if the website still has some hiccups and tends to give out too many error messages.
Now the researcher in me finds this fascinating. For example, let’s look at my first game of the season. My team, the Texas El Paso (UTEP) Miners, lost a close game to rival New Mexico. The story feature in DW allowed me to frame the game so that NM didn’t beat me so much as I beat myself. Notice the language I used in the recap: founds ways to stumble, allowed them to win, place themselves in tough situations, and so on. I gave no credit to the other team. With framing, I can downplay certain perspectives while encouraging others. Now I have tools to slant the events in a way that benefits my team.
In addition, everyone else in my dynasty can read and comment on my game. Add to that the ability to link to my Facebook and Twitter accounts and the connectivity between different media sky-rocket. But let me return to my discussion about social media. Gone are the days when you would play in solitude (or with someone else sitting on the couch) and could only reminisce about your glorious victories. We have even moved past the days where you could upload an image or video to a website for a few people to see. Now we participate in simulations where not only do you play, manage, and recruit, but you can now create and edit your own media as you see fit (provided you can get past EA’s nit-picky language filters).
Let’s think about that for a moment. Not only am I changing my game play experience, but I can also alter someone else’s view of the game (possibly) by writing a biased report on the event. The site encourages you to “tell everyone your side of the story.” There is no pretense of balanced journalism here. Pure trash talking. And while the games may not involve real players, the competition is most certainly real and the marriage of console and website only enhances the experience. I get the same feeling looking at my dynasty sports page as I do from reading CNNSI on the web. My heart races as the page loads and I wait to see what’s new since the last time I visited my page. To me, dynasty wire feels just as real as CNN or ESPN and provides the same inspiration to start a conversation or a debate as the mainstream sports outlets.
That’s the beauty of this new feature. In dynasty wire, you have the fanaticism of fantasy football and the connectivity of Facebook now combined to produce a service that is just too darn easy to access and obsess over. For those gamers who love to tell a good yarn, the temptation can be too great to ignore. I have already penned three or four trash-talking stories and the dynasty is only three weeks old (in game time that is). Imagine when I have access to stories, images, video, and statistics from four or five seasons. I may just become something like a sports journalist after all. At least in the world of my online dynasty.
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