Running up the score

Posted October 29th, 2007 at 8:35 am

Madden 08 Patriots

Over the past couple weeks the Patriots have taken heat from some of the media and many fans for what is being perceived as running up the score. It got me to thinking about how it is viewed when playing head-to-head video games. In many online communities running up the score is viewed as being cheap and unsportsmanlike. However there are many people out there who will keep playing and trying to score even with an insurmountable lead.

When it comes to the Patriots, I don’t have a problem with what they’re doing. They shouldn’t be expected to just stop playing because the other team is over-matched and has no answer for them. I don’t believe it is done over concern that the Dolphins or Redskins could actually have mounted a comeback (clearly they couldn’t have) but the idea that they should just give in while the other team continues to play seems odd to me.

In the end it is just one game, the score doesn’t change that it is only one win/loss, and many teams have experienced blowouts and continued on to have successful seasons. The Patriots risk injury to critical players by leaving them out longer than necessary and it could come back to bite them. So it doesn’t bother me what they’ve done in these crushing victories so far this season.

When it comes to gaming it’s interesting to see the divide between those who would follow the Patriots example and those who would stop trying to score and gladly give the ball back to the other team when the right situations presented themselves.

Play against random people online and more likely than not it becomes no holds barred. Play against your buddies and there may be bragging rights involved with how many points the victory was by. But play against someone in an online community such as a forum environment and you’ll be shunned for not kneeling on the ball or scoring unnecessarily. You may even see people kicked out of leagues for doing so as there are many that have rules against it and are very sensitive about the subject.

I have been on the wrong side of some blowout games. A few years ago it would bother me when someone continued to pile on, but now I view it differently. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s insulting, however when the other team shows mercy it implies that they feel you can’t stop them and they don’t want to make you look or feel worse than you already do. I’d rather continue to play on and get some practice in, try some new things and hopefully figure out what went wrong. It is a game after all. I don’t want to sit around for 20 minutes or however long as the clock is run out. How is that fun? That to me is a complete waste of time.

Something to consider is how the losing teams contribute to the cause. The tendency when behind is to throw caution to the wind. So you’ll see people who are out of the game making desperation throws or going for it on 4th downs. That leads to turnovers via INT or on downs and the game being extended because the clock stops on incomplete passes. That then puts the team that is ahead in a situation where they can score even more easily or more often.

When you look at the NFL the talent is relatively well balanced. Any team can beat any other on a given day (although it doesn’t look that way with the Patriots this year). But with video games there is a much bigger discrepancy between the great players and the poor ones.

I feel you’re less likely to see miraculous comebacks in a video game than in the NFL. If someone is up by 30, they usually are there for a reason and the team that is behind isn’t going to flip everything around all of the sudden. The NFL has more of an “anything can happen” element to it than the video games do. So in that regard it is more understandable that someone may feel running up the score is inappropriate in a video game match-up.

So what do you think? Should there be some sort of mercy shown by other players in head-to-head video games? Or do you want the game to be played out to completion score be damned?