Electronic Arts, ESPN to push live data to video games

The Associated Press is reporting that a partnership with ESPN is allowing video game maker Electronic Arts Inc. to dramatically increase real-time content in sports-themed video games. Starting with this summer’s release of the Madden NFL game, players with a modem high-speed Internet connection can have real-life action directly affect what happens in their video games.

Some hard-core gamers are cheering the innovations, which they say bring video games and real-life sports closer than ever. But critics caution about the idea of merging real life with the fantasy world of video games.

“For many people, that’s going to be very exciting,” said David Walsh, a psychologist and president of the National Institute on Media and the Family. “For some other people it could become addictive and can have the same harmful effects that other addictions have.”

EA Sports said it doesn’t know if the changes will mean price increases for games now costing about $60 for Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 owners.

“The idea is that someone playing the game won’t have to turn it off or switch to the television to get sports news,” said Raphael Poplock, EPSN’s interactive gaming manager.