by Ryan Rogers — Marist College
March 22, 2017 – 17:18
Madden NFL is video game franchise that has released a new football simulation game each year since 1988. The most recent iteration sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. The games have been noted for their realism – real teams, real players, real plays, simulation of a live NFL broadcast, photorealistic graphics, detailed character movements, and even injuries are purported to be just like the real NFL. Despite this emphasis on realism, in 2014, a "Tiny Titan" glitch was discovered in Madden NFL 15. The glitch made rookie linebacker, Christian Kirksey, appear 1-foot-2 instead of his actual height 6-foot-2. This small player was mixed in among the regular sized players and could make plays like the others. The glitch was eventually fixed by EA, the content producers. In a series that stresses realism, Tiny Titan was a glaring error. However, Tiny Titan was largely celebrated by the Madden fan base and became a social media darling. Before long, the character was then reinstalled and advertised by EA. Specifically, EA created a unique player challenge and trailer focusing on Tiny Titan. While the Madden series attempted to create a highly realistic adaptation of football, Tiny Titan pulled back the curtain and reminded players that the game was just a simulation. What was less clear was why fans of a realistic franchise responded so positively. While one can only speculate, novelty may have been a factor in Tiny Titan’s success. Likewise, the absurdity of the representation could have been an appeal. Playing as a 14 inch athlete among giants might have represented the ultimate underdog story. As for EA, a company frequently maligned by the video game community, Tiny Titan represented a positive outcome born out of a programming error. EA and Kirksey both played along with the joke, received some press attention, and performed a bit of service for the fans.