The OJ Simpson topic surfaces yet again

Posted July 18th, 2007 at 3:13 am
OJ - APF 2K8 trailer

In what seems like ages ago, 2K Sports signing OJ Simpson to be in All-Pro Football 2K8 was the hot topic. Despite that it never really reached the point of anything more than a discussion over whether it was right or wrong. Anthony Chau of 2K has stated that OJ Simpson being in the game generated the most questions from the media. However it never got to the point where the mainstream picked up on it. Small mentions of it were made such as in this preview that called it the “only potentially sour note” regarding the game. In general it seemed to be somewhat overlooked as the game neared release. That may change with recent developments.

In a trailer released yesterday, Gametrailers features OJ Simpson in a video titled “Slashing the Defense Gameplay”. The summary they have written to accompany it is “OJ Simpson tears the defense to pieces showing he still has the skills to escape anything that comes his way”. Of course for the video they placed him on the team named the “Assassins”. As if the name and description of the trailer weren’t already distasteful enough, the end is what will really catch most people off guard. You can watch the video here by continuing on.

Now this is likely Gametrailers’ own doing. If so 2K should be on them to take it down immediately.

What you don’t see in the trailer is OJ performing his “throat slash” celebration which is common following him scoring a TD in the game when on that team. That, very specifically, seems to have been programmed in by 2K Sports. Knowing full well the possible reaction it would cause.

What is unfortunate is with its release earlier this week, APF 2K8 has been getting a lot of positive reaction from gamers. It may be not be getting glowing reviews, but the hardcore fans of sports titles know that reviews generally don’t touch upon the important aspects of the game and even at times can be flat out factually incorrect. Ultimately a review is just one person’s opinion and impressions from a variety of actual gamers generally will tell a better story. Those who have purchased it seem satisfied with the gameplay despite the relatively empty experience having only a basic season mode and online play. Something like this threatens to overshadow a good game.

If OJ had just been like any other player the game, this wouldn’t even be coming up again. Yet it makes you wonder even more if there were ulterior motives behind the decision to pursue OJ. That goes along with another potential controversy in naming a team the Indians and placing teepees on the field along with a giant bear with facepaint. Both of those things, which stand out from the actual game, could’ve easily been avoided if they had wanted to.

I have always fallen in the middle of the general debate on whether he should be in or not. It personally didn’t bother me to know he was in the game yet I felt it was a baffling decision from a PR standpoint. Paying him to be in the game, when he was not a necessity, didn’t make much sense. I can definitely understand why some people would have a problem with it. At the same time it is just a football game.

This though is almost starting to appear as if 2K is rubbing it in the face of those who are offended by it.

So now seeing OJ in action with the circumstances of this trailer and becoming aware of his “throat slash” celebration, don’t be surprised if this topic ends up becoming more than just a message board discussion.

Update: 2K has stated they did not make the video. That isn’t a surprise to hear. However by not demanding GT take it down it will continue to be perceived as representing them.