Saturday, October 06, 2007

HBCU video game features Southern U. (move over, Madden)

Leave it up to a Baton Rouge company to lead the way in creating the black college football experience for video games.
Nerjyzed Entertainment, a privately held, African American-owned digital entertainment company, will debut "Black College Football the Xperience" featuring more than 40 HBCU football teams in November.
The game will feature exclusively HBCUs and will be different from the Madden franchise, EA Sports' cash cow football game.
BCFx will show off the schools' marching bands as well as the dancers and cheering squads, something Madden includes only in cursory detail.
The game will build on the experiences of Nerjyzed Entertainment's staff.
A black-owned company based in Baton Rouge, La., Nerjyzed is staffed by HBCU alumni, including a Howard grad and a Southern University grad.
It's a niche that's a long time coming, according to Nerjyzed.
"Madden forgot about us, so we [are] doing it ourselves," said Jerry Perkins, promoter for BCFx.
Jacqueline Beauchamp, Nerjyzed Entertainment's chief executive officer, is an aluma of Southern University. Brian "B-Jax" Jackson, the creative design director who said he came up with the idea, is a Howard alumnus.

Southern University played a large part in the game's characters.
"We wanted the game to be as realistic as possible, so we held a contest for motion-capture participants," Jackson said. "All of the in-game animations for the band and cheerleaders came from [students] at Southern University. We also went to 30 schools to record different bands playing."
Set to hit stores on Nov. 23 for PCs, the game's creators expect it to be available on Microsoft's XBox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3 in February.
Ashley Patton, Nerjyzed's marketing director, said the company has a five-year contract with three HBCU athletic conferences — SWAC, CIAA and SIAC — as well as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and several schools within the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and independent HBCUs, such as Tennessee State.
It has not received clearance from all the MEAC schools to use their teams, but hopes to have Howard on the game in time for the release, according to BCFx.
Jackson, the creative design director and a former employee of EA Sports, said BCFx has been nearly two years in the making.

Jackson said he came up with game's concept four years ago and is working to ensure that a new version of the game will be released annually, much like NCAA Football and Madden.
When players pick a school, a brief history of the institution appears on the screen. For Fisk University, a short story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers materializes.
Beauchamp said, "We plan on making a huge presence at the Bayou Classic," the annual matchup between Southern and Grambling universities, "but we will also be at the Southern Homecoming and we have big plans that include live music and more."
A planned "jukebox" feature allows gamers to watch the halftime sequences or listen to the bands' music whenever they wish.

It can be argued that no segment of video game consumers play as much as black males age 18 - 36. That represents a huge pie of market share.
"The gaming industry is worth $30 billion," Patton continued. "And black consumers outnumber other groups nearly 2 to 1. Yet there [is] no game out there that truly represents us."
"We're currently looking for interns," Patton said. "Our staff is composed of individuals from various prestigious HBCUs and we're always looking to give back to our communities."

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