Panthers game montage


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Last fall, the Portland Trail Blazers announced their basketball schedule with a video inspired by Oregon Trail. Though the NBA season is still ongoing, the NFL isn't waiting to tout their own schedule, starting this September.

Of all the football teams, Carolina Panthers made the splashiest announcement, with each game on their tour represented by a classic video game in this retro video:

At 0:41, we yet again see the Apple II edutainment title Oregon Trail, described as:

A computer game designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life. Doesn't sound all than fun, but man, this game was wildly entertaining.

California Games from Epyx also makes an appearance:

According to Wikipedia, California Games is a "1987 Epyx sports video game originally released for the Apple II and Commodore 64." It sounds old. It looks old. It is old. … The pixelated Hollywood sign and palm trees are perfect touches for a season-opening matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

And, of course, there's John Madden Football, a franchise that originated on the Apple II.

It's fascinating to see professional sports using video games in their marketing materials for a couple of reasons. First, esports are on the rise, and while audience members can certainly enjoy both football and Fortnite, I would expect them to spend more time on the latter. Instead of focusing on their core audience, nhe NFL seems to be trying to expand their audience to include gamers.

The other reason I'm surprised by this advertising approach is the demographic of the participants. The average age of NFL and NBA players is roughly 26.7 years old, meaning they were born in 1990 — five years after Oregon Trail was released for the Apple II. I wasn't using computers in school until I was 12 years old, which for the average athlete would've been 2002, 17 years after the version of Oregon Trail seen in this video. I'm guessing that the athletes themselves aren't the ones coming up with the idea to insert themselves into such archaic media.

I'm the last person to criticize someone for enjoying media that's older than they are, having been on the receiving end when it comes to my passion for the Apple II! Whether these athletes grew up with Pitfall or Portal, I hope they've eventually discovered the joy of classic gaming. It warms my heart to imagine them showing off this video to their friends and family as a melding of their passions, as opposed to shrugging it off and saying, "I dunno what those games are."

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