Madden NFL 06 Fans Take Video Game Into Real World  JUN 15 2006

Following the examples set by PacManhattan and Nintendo Amusement Park, another popular video game is moving beyond the screen and into the real world. Enthusiasts of EA Sports' Madden NFL 06 have been spotted in various locations around the United States playing a physical game based on the bestselling title.

DeWayne Coleman of Grand Rapids, Michigan said, "it looked so fun on the screen and we thought, 'why can't we go find a flat grassy area to run around, throw the ball, and punt on fourth down?'" Other "football" groups (as they like to be called) have uploaded candid photos of their activity to the Flickr photo-sharing site.

These early amateur efforts bare a crude resemblance to the gameplay in Madden, but a professional league set to begin play this fall in several major US cities will follow Madden NFL 06 much more closely. The National Football League (NFL) will employ athletes that resemble their in-game counterparts that will play for teams named after those in Madden. The teams will go through a full 16-game season, followed by a playoff and a "Super" bowl game to determine the champion. League officials plan to bring in revenue by charging for admission, selling foodstuffs during the games, and memorabilia inspired by the virtual uniforms worn by players in the game. The video game's namesake, TV personality John Madden, will even colorfully describe the action of the games for simultaneous broadcast on network television.

Madden NFL 06 purists have criticized the NFL's ambitious efforts, saying that ticket prices are too high and the games aren't interactive enough. One Madden fan from Phoenix, Arizona summed up the frustrations: "I'm supposed to pay twice as much as I paid for the video game for one lousy live game, not including beer and hot dog costs, and I can't even control what's going on in the game? What the hell is so fun about that?"

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